Each day I wonder is it going to be today, am I going to sit here and stare at the page in front of me and have nothing to say? I never stop amazing myself how I write and write and still find more inside that I want to record and pass on. I have been so lost at so many times in my life and searched for someone who I could relate to and gain some hope that there was a point to this existence other than to put me through hell, I have no doubt at all now that everyone feels that way at some point. As a species, we seem to be extremely bad at helping each other, or even at recognising that others may need our help. Why? Because as a species, we are extremely bad at asking for help. I am sure that there has been more than once, that you, just like me have sat there wondering why no one is saying anything, why they aren’t helping you, because you are sure they have to be able to see that you are distressed. If there are no tears running down your face or you aren’t vocalising your pain, how are they meant to know. We know ourselves that we can’t read others minds yet we expect them to read ours, we expect them to feel the pain we are in and that we need them.
I have been there many times and all it would have taken was just one word and those around me would have listened and helped in any way they could. I had no reason to just sit feeling shredded inside by events I needed to talk through with another. I don’t ask, I don’t want to appear weak. I had an image of being the person who dealt with everything and life washed off me as though I was silicon coated against trauma, I didn’t just have the image in my head, others also had told me I had successfully acted out the role for years. So when I couldn’t hide the trauma and it was visible to the world through my walking stick or later wheelchair, I found it incredibly hard to deal with when others stopped treating me as Teflon coated and I felt pity in their eyes and voices. Looking back on events like these always changes the light in which I see them, I was lucky to have that many humans actually trying to relate to my position. Their help and their attempts to support my should have been as heart warming then as they are now, but I was so used to my persona, that admitting MS had chipped a huge gash in it was impossible then.
Just over 20 yrs ago when I came to Glasgow I was living in a bed-sit, I know they don’t have the best name as far a accommodation went but I had found one in a large flat which allowed me to have a bedroom and a separate living-room, the kitchen was shared with the occupants of two other, the bathroom by the whole flat which included the 4 rooms below, as I was in the attic space. I knew no one in the city at all, I moved there for what turned out to be a short lived job in a telesales office, unable to find another I became self-employed. Like most shared accommodation I really only saw the other occupants in passing, but the whole house was brought together by my having an accident and it showed me for the first time that any humans living in the same place become family when the need is there. I had an accident, I feel down a flight of stone stairs, leaving me with concussion and my leg in plaster to just below my knee. The hospital sent me home with a nurse to ensure that I could actually get up and down the stairs, as my room and the bathroom where on different floors, convinced that I was happy to bump up and down the tight stairs on my backside, I was left alone. Somewhat stranded in my room, these people who I didn’t really know other than to say hello to, swung into action to help me in the following two weeks. I was a DJ at the time and no work meant no money, so they set a rota to help me each night getting me record cases up and down the stairs and into the taxi. They did my shopping for my, helped me with the washing and on a couple of occasions cooked a meal for me, when the plaster was off I thanked them with a small party. A group of strangers all helping me for no other reason than they saw I needed help. The house never went back to isolated nobodies existing around each other, we went out as friends to the pub, had house dinners, spent evening together watching TV, we became a rag tag family.
It shouldn’t take a leg to be in plaster for us to be human to those around us, yet it appears to be a growing human issue that we don’t help each other because we see asking for help as humiliating, accepting help as a weakness, and giving help as a way to show pity. I at one point when I first got my wheelchair called a meeting in of my staff and I made it clear that all that had changed was my mode of transport, the same person was sat in the chair as I was before it arrived and I wanted to be treated the same. I also made a deal with them, that if I needed help I would ask for it. It satisfied both sides, their pity disappears and became cheerful assistance, and myself image was restored. There are times when straight talking is needed, not to stranger as they don’t know any different, but those round me had to be comfortable with the new me, for me to also accept what had happened.