Guest Post: Accepting Help by James Dwyer

Guest Post: Accepting Help by James Dwyer

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(Help!), I need somebody
(Help!) not just anybody
(Help!) you know I need someone

The 1965 Beatles classic song always goes through my head whenever I leave the house. This isn’t because i have a love for the band of old – although they are great. The reason I always have this particular song going through my head is because it feels like I’m always being asked if I need any help whenever I leave the house. All the time.

The desire to help someone is one of the best human traits in my opinion and one that we don’t see often enough of in many parts of society. Gladly it seems during this time of social isolation there are countless stories of people helping one another and acting more as a community then usual which is fantastic.

Offering help is kind. However, it is important to check that help is needed before giving it.

For myself, whether it is leaning out of the car to put the wheelchair together, or opening the door to a shop, people jump out of their seats, nudge the person next to them or run across the road to “help”. Those that are offering help the most often tend to be those a lot older and less mobile then myself which feels particularly strange.

Having only been injured since late 2018 I am new to this, but it continues to be a source of frustration. I have become very adept at opening doors and putting the wheelchair together on my own but the constant swooping of people to my aid does chip away at my independence and self-esteem. Although the sentiment is appreciated, help often makes doing the task harder. Holding that door open slows me down as it stops me using the door to pull myself through the entrance. Helping by picking up the wheelchair means it’s not at the right angle to put the wheels on.

I know it’s me that needs to change. Educating the world on the correct way to offer help to someone in a wheelchair is a task I’m never going to manage, but it takes time to get the thickened skin needed to repel what feels like the constant offers of “help”

It’s been a tough one to get my head around but by growing my understanding that people’s desire to  help comes from a good place I am learning to manage the situation better and use a kind “no thanks” rather than the eye roll and head shake I’ve probably used in past.

Being upset by people’s kindness is a strange problem to have but I’ll stick it on the pile with the other strange problems that come from having an SCI.

– Follow James on IG @jamesdwyeruk

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