I’ve posted before about the importance of finding support; attended support groups; recommended mailing lists. I’m one of those people who naturally seeks mentorship and support wherever I am as a way of coping with whatever I’m going through. But recently I’ve also realized just how lucky I am to find support in everyday places — the colleague/friend at work who listens and thinks through my illness with me, the husband who takes on extra duties, the parents who, though at a distance provide unending ideas, are willing to pitch in with labor and looking, believe in my experiences. Sure, I’ve had days where it seems that no one cares enough to call, friendships lost and regained only when I had the energy to pursue them again, days when I was on my own with too much expected of me and too little energy. But overall, even without support groups and other formal mechanisms, I am supported.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. Having recently had my name in the paper in an attempt to raise local awareness about Lyme disease, I have been contacted by a number of people who are also struggling with it. While these individuals are uniformly motivated and active in fighting for their health (they all made the effort to find me, after all), the varied experiences they have been through reminded me again of what has been shown for other illnesses: a complex ecology of support and connections exists among those who need support and those who give it , and dependence on individuals ranging from the helpful clerk who loads a car to a close friend can make independence possible. So if you find yourself refusing help (or needing it), please remember: asking and receiving are another way you can be strong, and a natural part of the human experience.
 Forlizzi, J., DiSalvo, C., and Gemperle, F. (2004). Assistive Robotics and an Ecology of Elders Living Independently in Their Homes. Journal of HCI Special Issue on Human-Robot Interaction, V19 N1/2, January, 2004.