"Remember... No burden is worthy of becoming you. You'll always have enough independence to make sure of that." -- Chris Kairos
I always saw myself as an independent kind of person. The kind of person who strived to achieve everything I wanted and needed on my own first before ever reaching out for help from anyone else. I was raised to believe to have the tools to know how to take care of yourself because you never know what will happen and you want to be ready for the unexpected. To, of course, be kind and accept the kindness of others but not to solely rely on the help and assistance of others. To stand strong. Be a strong woman. An independent go-getter if you will. Perhaps, I get this too from my grandmother. She was the exact same way. She was a leader. She paved her own path. Kind courteous and generous and yet independent and strong. I admired that and still admire that greatly to this day. I always believed that a hard work ethic and working hard for what it is you want out of life was better than just simply being handed things. Can this be considered bullheadedness? HaHa. Well, sometimes yes it can be. I believe that was one characteristic I've heard mentioned too of my grandmother and I. Bullheaded.
When I became diagnosed with epilepsy in December of 2008, I heard a lot of mention from doctors and medical professionals that they did not advise me to do a lot of things on my own. By myself. Independently. Without the assistance of someone else. Without involving another person. I heard the words loud and clear; however, my world seemed to swirl so slow. I thought to myself, "Am I hearing this right? I feel perfectly able but you're telling me I'm going to need assistance doing things I've done a million times in my lifetime thus far?" How can this be?, I thought... This was the introduction of adjusting to my epilepsy diagnosis. My license had not been stripped away from me, but I was advised not to drive any longer so long as my seizures were alongside me. After seeing how badly I had damaged my car suffering a seizure behind the wheel anyhow, I knew with certainty, I wouldn't be driving anyway. My means of transportation was now gone and I had been advised to steer clear of driving.
In the early stages of my epilepsy diagnosis, I had become quite depressed. I cried often. I stayed in bed and had no motivation to want to do very much. I felt scared and confused. At that time, I knew no one else with Epilepsy. I was informed by medical professionals that it be best that I should no longer take baths unless accompanied by another person to watch over me, or opt to take a shower instead to prevent any danger should I suffer a seizure in the bathtub. In wanting to cling onto my independence, I abandoned the idea of bubble baths and opted for showers. In the beginning, I was still adjusting to my epilepsy medication and during one occasion, I found myself off balance and light headed causing me to stumble and nearly fall and my husband came to my rescue. Over the course of time, I learned of additional seizure triggers, ways to live with them and regain a sense of normality.
Learning to rely on others for help was new territory for me most certainly. I absolutely was and still am so grateful for their love, their care and support but found it at times to be difficult and frustrating needing help for what I felt could be the littlest of things. I found myself at times in need of something from the store and recalling that I could just hop in my car, go get what I needed and be back in a flash. My new reality, was I no longer had a car and asking for a ride to the store was now what I would need to do. Asking if my family member or friend had the time to take me where I needed to go. In my heart, I felt a heaviness of never wanting to be a bother. Never wanting to be a burden on anyone. Interfering with what anyone may be in the middle of doing. There would be times I found myself just unable to bring myself to ask simply because I felt an overwhelming sense of not wanting to take up anyone's time.
This overwhelming sense eventually turned itself into sadness and a rebelliousness to try to do things on my own without asking for help. Sometimes I was able to accomplish what I needed. Sometimes, I found myself unsuccessful and I simply gave up. I would walk to where I needed to go rain or shine. Day or night just to avoid feeling like a bother. Was this a must? No. Did I make it this way upon myself? I most certainly did. Yes it was absolutely difficult to adjust to a new way of living with Epilepsy at my side. I was learning how to acknowledge my independence and accept help at the same time. Learning how to have a harmonic balance of both within my life.
There were periods over the course of time where I opened up about how I felt to my husband and family. I profusely cried and apologized for things that really, I didn't need to apologize for at all! Apologizing for rides to places I needed to go. Apologizing for being distant when I needed time to clear my head and have a good long prayer and cry. Apologizing for all sorts of reasons. I was emotionally embraced with love and understanding. I was reassured that I would always be able to be as independent as I wanted to be but to never ever be afraid to ask for help and to never ever think of myself as a burden. That true family and true friends don't for a single moment look upon one another in need, as a burden but are always, there to help you.
This prompted me to sit down and create a list of the things that I'd been told that I would need help doing, things that I'd been told I'd never do again, things I'd most certainly do again in time and things that I could still do at that very moment. The list motivated me so very very much. I looked upon that list as a list of opportunity. It built a pillar of strength within me. Shined a light that pointed a way toward a goal.
Do you ever find yourself thinking of yourself as a burden? You wouldn't be the only one to have that feeling. If you have epilepsy and if you're thinking about your independence, if it hurts that there are some things that you need a little help doing since becoming diagnosed, don't allow it to consume you not a second longer. It's okay to ask for help. Surrounding you are family and friends that love you and want nothing but the best for you. They want to see you succeed. They want to see you well. They want to see you rise above and achieve many dreams. Don't think of yourself as a burden because you are not.
Sit down with your family and friends and discuss openly how it is that you feel. Discuss and map out ways that you can have independence and accept their help at the same time. Discover how to have a harmonic balance of both. Have an open dialog to reach out for their help when you need it. Discuss methods that are comfortable for you and and also safe to get around and achieve the goals you want to achieve.
It can be done!
Can I completely say I have overcome this feeling? Not entirely. Every now and then the feeling does sneak up on me and hang heavy on my heart and I shrug it off like heavy chains that clang to the ground. But when the feelings arise, I put up a fight to rise above because I know that I am indeed not a burden and that I am in fact loved by God, my family and friends. That they understand to the fullest of their extent what I go through. They stand by my side through thick and thin and they are extremely respectful of my thoughts and feelings.
If you ever find yourself feeling like a burden, cut the chains that are weighing you down and breathe, in knowing that it's just not true. You are not a burden. You are NOT a burden.