This week was a pretty bad week for me. I just felt like giving up. I felt like I just couldn’t keep dealing with all of Luke’s different problems day after day. I was feeling particularly hopeless about the future.
I knew that I needed to ask for help.
But I didn’t want to. I hate asking for help. I want to be the type of person that helps other people, not the pathetic person that needs help. But I knew that this attitude needed to change. I thought of one person that I could text. She was in the leadership of my church and also a good friend of mine. She could tell the Relief Society (the church female organization designed to help in times of need) about my struggles.
But as I wrote out a text, I just sobbed. Why is it so hard to ask for help? Maybe it’s because when I ask for help, I have to confront the reality that I actually need help. That I have problems. That I am suffering. As I read over the text and tried to send it, I sobbed even harder. I just couldn’t send it. I couldn’t admit to my neighborhood family that I still struggled with depression and hopelessness about my autistic son Luke. I didn’t want anyone to know how much I wanted to give up. How much I hated Luke at times. I didn’t want them to see this weakness.
But finally after the sobbing stopped, I mustered the courage to press the “send” button. Done. I couldn’t undo that. Now I would just have to wait and see what happened.
Coming to my Rescue
What happened next was miraculous.
Sometimes in the past, I have asked for help, and those pleads have been ignored or overlooked. Often it is because I ask for help in a very passive way – almost like a hint instead of a direct plea. This time, I was as honest as I could be. And the answer was immediate!
My friend texted me back. She wanted to know exactly what she (and the Relief Society) could do. It took me a long time to text back. I just couldn’t quite put all of my thoughts into words. I kept erasing and rewriting my text and sobbing again. Finally, my friend showed up at my door with her two little kids. She let me cry as I told her about my struggles.
More women showed up a few hours later. They were in the Relief Society presidency. These women brought kindness and compassion. The first thing one of them said was “I just want to say that meltdowns are welcome anytime.” (I realized at later that I hadn’t been allowing my own meltdowns. I hadn’t really accepted them as normal. I thought something was wrong with me).
One of the women had an autistic granddaughter just like Luke! I was so incredibly thankful for how well she understood my situation. Here are a few of the gems of wisdom that they told me (I can’t remember the exact words but I will try to express their sentiments):
“You need to remember that you are serving every day. Right here. You are serving the people that God has called you to serve: your little son and family. You don’t need to feel bad that you aren’t able to serve more people in the community right now.”
“You need to be really kind to yourself. Be really easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can. You have an extremely hard situation. God knew that you could do it.”
“Journal every day. Write down the little tiny things that happen so that you can realize things are getting better. Luke is making progress.”
As they left, they reassured me that they would be checking in on me regularly. As I closed the door behind them, I felt peace. I felt God’s love and concern for me through these kind, wonderful sisters.
And best of all, I felt hope.
Replacing my negative thoughts
Before this experience, one of the most prevalent thoughts I have had was “No one cares about you” and “Everyone is too busy to help you.” I knew these thoughts weren’t helpful and were probably hindering me from asking for help, but it was so hard to let them go. It’s almost as if thinking these negative thoughts and hating everyone around me was easier than trying to reach out and get help. I was so afraid of reaching out and getting rejected or judged because I couldn’t take care of my family the way I felt like I should.
I had already tried to replace these negative thoughts with “People do care about you” and “I can get the help that I need”. I have had success in changing my mindset and experience by changing these thoughts. But sometimes the old thoughts creep back in when you are weakest and try to take over. That is definitely what happened last week. I was down already and those familiar negative thoughts came back in full force. I am so thankful that I was able to reach out for help and that help actually came!