It’s Not a Crime to Ask for Help When You Need It

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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“Do you need help?”

The question came from a 30-something woman after I’d finished loading some cartons into the back of my SUV. I automatically replied, “No thanks, all done.”

But lifting and loading isn’t an easy job for me. My upper body strength is good, but my legs are weak and offer no help to my topside. In addition, I’ve slacked on my exercising, so I’m not as strong as I try to be. I wish that young woman had come by five minutes earlier and made that offer. I would have taken her up on it.

I can’t count the times I’ve turned down offers of help over the years. Dozens? Fifty, maybe? Usually the offer would come as I was lifting my lightweight scooter into the SUV. Sometimes it came after a minor fall or when our car wasn’t parked nearby, making for an uncomfortably long walk. “Thanks, I’ve got it,” “I’m OK,” and “I’m slow, but I’ll get there” were my knee-jerk responses.

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Writing at HuffPost, Erin Joy Henry sounds just like me: “If someone offered me assistance, before even pausing to think, my answer would always be a firm ‘No thanks, I’m okay.’ … I wasn’t comfortable with others going out of their way for me, or offering their care. I’m okay, always, really!”

I can hear myself saying those same words.

What’s the problem?

An article at Exploring Your Mind suggests that “this may be because of some unconscious mental block. Or it could simply be because they have difficulty recognizing that they need to change.” Part of the problem may be denial.

Both articles probably apply to me. If I look at myself honestly, I see someone who for many years has denied the impact of my MS. I’ll bet the same is true for many others with MS. For example, how difficult is it for us to finally decide to use a scooter, or even just a cane? Yet, once we do it, we’re happy we did, and we wonder how we ever got along without it.

It takes acceptance

It was important to me to show how self-reliant I could be. It still is, but some of that self-reliance is slowly slipping away. My friend and fellow Multiple Sclerosis News Today columnist John Connor discovered this happening to him a couple of years ago.

“So, yes, I’ve become more receptive of asking for help and not feeling guilty. It’s not any fault of ours, we’re just dealing with the cards that life has dealt,” he wrote.

Henry says she was able to begin accepting assistance when she realized that helping makes the helpers happy.

“If a person is unable to be vulnerable or ask and receive, you are actually depriving people around you the opportunity to do something that will make them feel good about themselves too,” she wrote.

That’s a good way for me to think about it. It’s time for me to graciously accept some help from family, friends, and even a stranger in a garage.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Lynda Viet avatar

Lynda Viet

Dear Mr Tobias,
I was diagnosed with MS early 2006 & I've tried getting help but to no avail. I live in the Montreal area in the province of Québec & since I have absolutely no one I can count on, Family is all dead & friends were lost since then, therefore being alone with no ressources except for the gouvernement who suggested that at the end of August, âge of 65, I stop living independly & go in a Care Facility with 1 room a desk & shared à corridor toilet. So I find myself SPMS and being offered to forget having a life, no dignity & being surrounded by elderly people in their 80/90s. I am not weelchair bound & can still have a normal life. That is to me like the end of the road, my highway to hell ! If you could share your ideas on the subject it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Lynda

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hello Lynda,

I'm very glad that you took the time to write and I'm very sorry for all of the trouble you have been having. Have you discussed what's happening with your doctor or with another healthcare professional? Talking with a patient navigator at Canada's MS Society might also help. Here's contact information for them:

Phone: 1-844-859-6789

Email: [email protected]

There's also a live web chat in the MS Information or Support & Services sections of their website:

I hope this helps.


Lynda Viet avatar

Lynda Viet

Thank you for your suggestion. I will try the MS navigator web site perhaps they have a solution, if they are not related
with both the Regional MS Society of our Province and MS Society of Canada because they have no solution for me!
Otherwise, with a 1300$CAD monthly, which represent +- 900/950$USD, which does not help. I have being looking at the moon and I'll be probably seeing a total Eclypst !

Thanks for being so generous of your time to answer our questions. It has been a pleasure to read your chronicals.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias


Thanks for your kind words about what I write. It made my day.

I wish you the best.


Penny-Marie Wright avatar

Penny-Marie Wright

Lynda, I am 66 now and have lived on my own for most of my adult life & no one has said I have to go into a care facility & have had MS for 19 years. With things as they are with Covid 19 a care facility or anything like that is the last place I would go. You should follow up on what Ed told you. Because of Covid 19,again, the MS group I've been with are meeting virtually on Zoom & there are a lot of sites for that. Thursdays seem to be the popular day as I have 3 meetings a day then. The MS Society can give you their web sites so you can attend them also. There is people from all across the world on it. There's exercise programs, guest speakers & usually we can stay online afterwards & just visit with each other. I hope things go better for you & maybe we'll meet online someday.

Kay Taylor avatar

Kay Taylor

Hi, I’ve never joined in before, but want to say that I’m pushing 80 and have never asked for help until the last year or so. I’m going to encourage you, especially because you have MS, to get out and visit shutins. Not just the elderly, but anyone, because they’re not able to get out. You will feel so much better. And they won’t care how you act or if your leg is weak. Just do it.


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