Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Loss of Pride

Steve has been talking about how much of a hit his pride has taken lately. Asking for help is one of the hardest things for him to do. He would rather suffer than ask someone other than me to help him.

I don't really understand this. In my way of thinking, he didn't ask to be disabled. He just is. If he needs extra help, he should ask. I'm beginning to think that its a gender difference.

Steve is the old fashioned sort. The kind of man that thinks the man should be the primary wage earner and prides himself on being able to fix just about anything. The fact that he can no longer work weighs on him like a ton of bricks.

I know that most disabled individuals deal with loss of pride. It is incredibly difficult to ask someone to help with basic personal care tasks. If your self worth is based on being able to do something you can no longer do -- change the car's oil, fix a computer, go to work every day -- the loss can be devastating.

I have learned over the last few years to be discrete, even sneaky, about how I help him. I also do a lot of his asking for him. For example, I ask his brother to "help" change the oil in the car. I also ask Steve to show me how to fix something then say I better do it so I can learn better.

I also give him gentle reminders that he has a lot to be proud of, even if he can no longer perform some functions. He's a great Dad and I remind him that if he was still working he would not get to spend as much time with his kids.

I know I'm not fooling him. That's not the point. I just want him to remember that his self worth is not based on his job or the ability to put on his shoes. No one's is.

It will take some time for him to get over how he feels. He was just learning to manage his bipolar disorder before this all happened. As he put it "he finally felt like he could look in the mirror and like what he saw." Now, he is having problems with that mirror again.

It's hard to stand by and let him figure it out. I want to shake him and say "it's all in your head!" But, I have to let him process it on his own. He will figure it out. I think it is part of the grieving process. He's grieving for his old life.

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