Acceptance it seems, is not a solid, permanent, all-inclusive state. In fact it comes and goes, and it comes in varying degrees. I accept that I am ill. I accept that my life must be moulded accordingly. But there are parts that I have not yet mastered, despite convincing myself that I had reached this incredibly important but incredibly rare state that we with chronic illnesses must reach. We must accept our illness. And I had. To a degree. But I am learning that it is not accurate to use this term ‘Acceptance’ as a blanket term.
I don’t mean this in terms of accepting help or support. I mean it more on a personal level. I mean it in terms of not being in denial about the reality I am faced with.
I think 2019 is turning out to be the year of bravery.
This is a perhaps a strange one but recently, two years into having my Support Worker’s help, I asked for her to take me to the supermarket. We’ve done that before; she’s driven me to the smallest and nearest supermarket and I’ve shuffled in for milk or something similar. I’ve also sent her to the supermarket for me, with a shopping list and the means to pay for what I need. But in two years, we have never done a shop together. So this was a big deal; asking her not to wait in the car as she has done before, but to come in with me. To properly help me, in the ways I truly need.
I don’t know why it’s taken so long to admit I need more help than I’m asking her for in some areas. She does the laundry for me, the washing up, the hoovering, makes phone calls for me, prepares meals… But this has always felt different.
I was ashamed. I think I was ashamed to admit that I struggle with the cognitive side of things far more than I was letting on. Slightly odd really, as the very reason she is employed is to help me with such tasks.
On some level it felt pathetic actually. To be a 30 year old woman unable to do such a menial every day task as buy things from the supermarket. But then I reminded myself that all of the things my support worker helps with are basic menial tasks that the average 30 year old can do without even thinking about them haha! So why was this so different.
I struggle cognitively with quantities, budgeting, whether I have the correct money in my hand, and I get easily overwhelmed, particularly at the check out. My husband always packs the bags for us and acts as a kind of wellbeing coach when he can tell I’m suddenly feeling very panicked and overwhelmed.
The day I asked my Support Worker for this help, I had been feeling a bit stressed because I had a coupon and I was worried I hadn’t read it properly. Was worried I wouldn’t meet the criteria needed to use it. This has happened quite often before. My husband and I have got to the checkout only to find I hadn’t interpreted an offer or a voucher correctly. I just needed a hand. An extra pair of legs to go back down an aisle if I’d missed something off my list. Someone to pack. Someone to work out which things came under a certain offer. Someone to double check for me when I can’t quite trust myself. And something clicked inside me that made me feel brave enough to ask for this help.
As always, my Support Worker didn’t bag an eyelid at having to help a grown woman with something that the majority of people do without even thinking about it. And off we went together to slowly get what was needed from the supermarket.
I am immensely proud of myself and very, very brave. And I hope this new level of Acceptance sticks around. I need this help. I am unwell. And that’s all perfectly okay.