Offering Help III

There is a difference in between being supportive and being an enabler. There is also a difference in being helpful and judging. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes; it can be a terribly fine line. Chronic condition can affect the personality. Drugs can become addictive. Depression and other mood disorders may abound.

There is no simple fix. Every so often, it might become necessary to take that vital step back from helping a friend to question if this is really helping, or if this may be the moment to stop enabling someone to persist in a destructive pattern and start pushing towards healthier habits. Professionals exist to help people cope with the countless problems of chronic pain, and yes, professionals also exist to help you, the assistant, confidant, friend, support crew, battle buddy, survive this battle as well. Burnout, whether it’s in a car or from cancer, is real.

There’s a point when you have to call professionals instead of going over to help someone yourself. There’s a point when offering to help someone by getting them meds or loaning money or giving rides is actually enabling them to live a non-healthy life. At the same time, it’s very important not to mistake your wishes, your needs, your fears and desires, with what is right for your friend. This is a tricky situation. For an example… what if you are resistant to pain and prefer natural, homeopathic remedies? Your friend/significant other/whatever is not you; s/he might need those medications. As long as this is medically advisable and the path your friend wishes to take, it may be best to let it ride. Remember: it’s not your body. But what about when pills are disappearing too quickly, you think? When you’re fairly certain that now it’s fear, not fatigue, that’s keeping someone from going on a walk?

There is no easy way to handle this, no clear way to draw the distinction between what works for you and what works for your friend/relative/significant other/whatever. Between your wishes and theirs. Every situation is different, and every situation can change in an instant. In the end, all I can write right now, from the depths of my, well, inexperience, is to trust your instincts. When there’s a risk of bodily harm to you or them, that would be one line that should instinctively raise warning bells. Chose to err on the side of caution. And remember… put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

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