How can I help?

15 Sep 2022
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I wonder how many times people have said to you or you have mentioned to others the following questions or statements?

How can I help?

Tell me what you want, and I will get it for you.

I will do anything, just ask.

I am here for you night or day, just tell me what I can do.

Has anyone ever offered to help you, you may have been sick, had sick parents, your partner may have been ill, you may not drive, or for other reasons?

I find it hard when people make  an open-ended offer, they say just name anything you need, and I will do it. It is such a wide offer that it is hard to answer.

 

I find that offers that really help are when they meet a particular need. People know I don’t drive, so offering me a lift home from where I volunteer, as I am usually carrying bags of items, is helpful.

When someone asks how they can help do you find it easy to answer? Would you rather that someone sees a need you have and offers to help? When you help others how do you make a general offer, or do you try to meet a need?

Leah

A Moodscope member. 

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Ginny

Sept. 16, 2022, 4:56 a.m.

An interesting one, thank you Leah. I may have had offers of help in the past, but I don't really remember. Nobody realised I had a mental illness so didn't know how to help. However, would I have accepted it if it was offered, I don't know. I know now that people don't always know how to help someone with a mental illness. That is up to the doctors. Mine at the time thought I was neurotic. We are going back a long time now. I am 65. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar 10 years ago. I didn't know what it was but after extensive research I do now, and I also knew I had a bad case of PND that I now know (which was post partum psychosis). I have digressed. Anyway, I do find it much easier to help others, perhaps because of what I have been through myself, but I have also realised that I can't help some people. For instance I have a friend who is an alcoholic and I have realised that I cannot help him any more because it is detrimental to my mental health. They (whoever they are) say you can't help people who won't help themselves, but I think that is hard, because surely we all need help to start getting up when we have fallen down a black hole. I think I could help someone with a mental illness, but not an addiction. That needs professional help as in detoxing. My friend went into rehab for 3 months, but the day he came out he started drinking again. I think he just can't cope with life. Writing this down has made me see the whole picture. I know I am addicted to food, it has made me put on a lot of weight but it doesn't stop me coping wirh life.

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 5:56 a.m.

Ginny Thanks for your well thought comment. You have learnt a lot over the years. By the way I am a similar age to you but was diagnosed at 16 but it didn’t help being diagnosed early as there was lot of stigma and misinformation back then. Knowing when it is ok to offer help and when you can’t help someone is a lesson I am still learning.

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 16, 2022, 10:13 a.m.

Hi Ginny - most of us are addicted to sugar! I know I am, so I can’t have it in any form: glucose, fructose…any ‘ode’ - it just sets me off wanting more. Two ounces of fruit = two ounces of chocolate as far as the sugar goes - and it just feeds my addiction. I’ve cut it out of most of my life at the moment, with the exception of an occasional alcoholic drink - but usually I suffer the next day so have cut right back. Losing inches and weight and have more energy in the last three weeks - feel betterer in myself too. First of all, cut out the processed foods and stick to ‘real’ foods. Then you can narrow things down to see what else is making you ill. Go well, Ginny, with love and Bear hugs x x x

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 10:32 a.m.

Bear my moods indicate how much I eat. When I feel ok I don’t need sugary fatty foods but when down I feed the emptiness. So for me itbis not about diet but moods.

Ginny

Sept. 17, 2022, 4:33 a.m.

Thank you for that.

Ginny

Sept. 16, 2022, 4:56 a.m.

An interesting one, thank you Leah. I may have had offers of help in the past, but I don't really remember. Nobody realised I had a mental illness so didn't know how to help. However, would I have accepted it if it was offered, I don't know. I know now that people don't always know how to help someone with a mental illness. That is up to the doctors. Mine at the time thought I was neurotic. We are going back a long time now. I am 65. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar 10 years ago. I didn't know what it was but after extensive research I do now, and I also knew I had a bad case of PND that I now know (which was post partum psychosis). I have digressed. Anyway, I do find it much easier to help others, perhaps because of what I have been through myself, but I have also realised that I can't help some people. For instance I have a friend who is an alcoholic and I have realised that I cannot help him any more because it is detrimental to my mental health. They (whoever they are) say you can't help people who won't help themselves, but I think that is hard, because surely we all need help to start getting up when we have fallen down a black hole. I think I could help someone with a mental illness, but not an addiction. That needs professional help as in detoxing. My friend went into rehab for 3 months, but the day he came out he started drinking again. I think he just can't cope with life. Writing this down has made me see the whole picture. I know I am addicted to food, it has made me put on a lot of weight but it doesn't stop me coping wirh life.

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:22 a.m.

Ginny zI once posted my reply 5 times!!!

Ginny

Sept. 17, 2022, 4:35 a.m.

Haha. I didn't think it had gone through so I posted it again!

Ginny

Sept. 16, 2022, 4:57 a.m.

Sorry I posted twice by mistake

Reply

greenjean

Sept. 16, 2022, 6:42 a.m.

Hello Ginny - I think many of us have posted twice - the comments seem to have a bit of a delay! Re your food addiction - I also have an issue with being constantly hungry and struggle to keep the weight off. I have been going to a Slimming World group for a year & my weight is now normal & I can eat plenty! Leah, I think suffering from a mental health problem makes it easier to help others going through a bad patch as we really can empathise with them. I have been there for a few folk going through a tough time & they have later said it was good to talk to someone who could understand & reassure them. However I have had to be careful with one person who wants me to meet her every week and is quite demanding. She doesn’t take medication as advised and has not seemed to make much progress in her illness. I don’t think I am very helpful to her & as I have been struggling myself with being very flat for several months and have had to be quite assertive about when it’s convenient to meet her. I feel I need help from a GP to know whether I need medication review but have been unsuccessful getting an appointment for past few weeks as it’s not urgent. I am delivering a letter to him today as I really do feel I need help at the moment. Easier to offer help than ask for it!

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 7:21 a.m.

Greenjean A friend offered me a casserole when I was depressed and my children were young. This helped me. I have listened to friends whose children were struggling with mental health issues.

Teg

Sept. 16, 2022, 7:03 a.m.

Hi Leah In an ideal world we should all look for ways of helping each other. I find that peoples attitudes about helping vary considerably. Some will never help and wish to remain as independent as possible. Some will do anything to assist and will also suggest ways in which they can help. I also think there are a group that say the words but have no real intention of giving you their time. I try to remember those who have helped me in my worst times so that I can repay their kindness. Interesting Post, thank you. Txx

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 7:39 a.m.

Teg I have people who offered to help but when I asked it was never suitable. Someone offered me lifts a few time then one day told me that they would never put themself in a position that they would rely on others for lifts. Needless to say I never acceoted their offer of another lift.

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 7:41 a.m.

A wise person once said to me if people don’t accept the kind offers of others then others won’t be able to give. People need to give and others need to receive.

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:47 a.m.

Wise words - people helping others, often helps that person too. bear x

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 10:26 a.m.

Thanks Bear

Oli

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:49 a.m.

Thanks Leah. I like the point Ginny made about being aware that our ability to help can depend on our awareness of our skills. Judging our own ability is notoriously tricky. For example, a friend offered to fix one of my guitars but I declined because he is unaware of his actual skill. This blind spot for self-assessment is common for all of us and for me it’s important to get some outside, objective view. Do we check if our help is any good? Helping people for a living is interesting. It’s yet another one of those areas where the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:58 a.m.

That’s wise Oli - in the immortal words of Manuel in Fawlty Towers - "I know nothing!" …and thank you for the ‘heads up’ about the young drummer in the Foo Fighters video - wow he played like his life depended on it. Bear xx

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 10:28 a.m.

Oli I found after the fires when people helped ina specific way rather than a generic I will do anything for you it was easier and more practical.

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:56 a.m.

Morning Leah - well it is just still here in the U.K. I’ve had a busy doggit-walking, cleaning morning as e have visitors tonight and they’re staying over so still plenty to do! The friends who are coming freed to bring foodstuffs for breakfast - but I’ve already got it covered, but a lovely gesture. I might make them wash up!! Giving time and energy is sometimes the best we can give in the moment. Sometimes it’s just kind words - but when I offer. I only do so, when I know I can fulfil the offer - as I have been caught out in the past, trying to be all things to all people and I’ve dive-bombed into a low. Have to look after number one first… I find that practical things help the most; when a dear, dear friend lost her young daughter, I was in shock, but cooked a chicken and took it round to them. Brought up to bake cakes or biscuits to the bereaved’s home so they have food for the many visitors paying their respects - but the main meal needs to be simple - something they can pick at (like the chicken!) or a lasagne or casserole that can be heated up when they feel like it. Other things have included collecting children from school when someone is poorly, walking their dog, buying things that are needed and getting them sent asap. Not always easy to know what someone might need - but if all else fails, a quiet word and some gentle Bear hugs often do the trick. What a lovely blog, thank you Leah - now I have to work out how to accept offers of help - because I know I’m not very good at that! Funnily enough, the offers don’t always come when I really need them - so I need to learn to ask for help too….when I need it. It isn’t fair to the person offering, if we don’t accept their kindness in return. Love and Bear hugs x x x

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 10:31 a.m.

Bear When a friends child died she said her fridge and freezer were filled with casseroles. At first she didn’t eat but later all those meals showed people were thinking of her and her family.

Jane

Sept. 16, 2022, 1:38 p.m.

Hi Leah -- thanks for the post. This is a real dilemma, I find. I often want to help friends when they're in need, but I don't always *know* exactly what it is they need . . . and so I make the general offer. Like many of us, I've also been in the position of needing help, and it's wonderful when people offer a specific thing, like meals, or help finding needed medical equipment. Both sides of this seem tricky: it can be hard to know what to offer, outside of bringing food, but it can also be difficult to ask for something specific. For me, at least, I don't ask for specific help unless it's someone I really trust and feel I can count on. That's rather a small group. Thanks for the post -- it's a good prompt to work more on trying to understand particular needs and offer help for them.

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:05 p.m.

Jane You have explained the dilemma so well of what to offer and what we need. Thanks for your post.m

Lexi

Sept. 16, 2022, 1:46 p.m.

Hi Leah, like others my first inclination when friends are unwell is to drop off food without being asked. I had pneumonia once - literally the worst I have ever felt in my entire life, thought I might die - and I remember how friends came round and left food at my door. Those simple acts of kindness meant so much to me. If they had asked "what can I do?" I would have replied "nothing!" because I was in such a bad place. I do offer rides and drop-offs as well as food, and I check in every morning to see what I can do that day. I would rather my food and offers be rejected than feel I didn't offer anything at all I guess. xo

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:13 p.m.

Lexi, I call it the kindness casserole.Yes it easy to say nothing.

Orangeblossom

Sept. 16, 2022, 3:37 p.m.

Thanks for the blog Leah! I remember a dear friend who took some of my ironing soon after our son was born. That is deeply embedded in my memory. We met up with the friend today after about 3 years. Since knowing her in the past 40+ years she has frequently put herself out for us.

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:22 p.m.

O B What a thoughtful friend.

Orangeblossom

Sept. 16, 2022, 3:37 p.m.

Thanks for the blog Leah! I remember a dear friend who took some of my ironing soon after our son was born. That is deeply embedded in my memory. We met up with the friend today after about 3 years. Since knowing her in the past 40+ years she has frequently put herself out for us.

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:24 p.m.

OB I think we never forget thoughtful deeds.

CMM

Sept. 16, 2022, 3:53 p.m.

An interesting blog, Leah. Bitter sweet. I have offered to help others in very specific ways - shopping, vacuuming, dog walking - dog sitting. I looked after a child while her mother was having child 2. I washed up on Christmas Day - and found no-one had saved me any food. I have cut grass. I have weeded. I have laid pavers. I have helped in as many practical ways as possible. I have helped in other ways; I listen. I really listen. I have stopped doing that now. I have asked for help and received in response shopping done so badly it was not worth the effort; a lift to the doctor - I am now disabled, unable to drive and my partner needed new meds - only to be told I had to pay for the petrol despite the driver needing to do her own food shopping; oh, and that driver took my crutches to hold herself up at the petrol pump - without my permission.....and then she spent MY money on a gift of chocolate for me. I gave her back the gift - I could not eat it as I cannot eat sugar anymore - and told her to enjoy it. I neither ask for help, nor offer it anymore. I pay for taxis. I have food delivered by professionals. I manage.

Reply

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:31 p.m.

CMM That is so sad you have helped so many people but now you need help it is not offered. I hope you meet some kind people like you. Sorry my blog brought up bitter sweet memories.

Leah

Sept. 16, 2022, 9:31 p.m.

CMM That is so sad you have helped so many people but now you need help it is not offered. I hope you meet some kind people like you. Sorry my blog brought up bitter sweet memories.

CMM

Sept. 17, 2022, 7:35 a.m.

Leah....no need - ever - to apologise to me. Ever. Your blog made me respond....and I have not for several months :)

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