Asking For Help

We worked on asking for help in Sheppard Pratt in 2018. Lately, however, our husband has been making statements or reminding us that we may need assistance. We can ask for help, he says.

This is a behavior I struggle with. It plays out in everything I do. I am absolutely convinced it is rooted in my trauma. Even so, it can show itself in any non-trauma activity. For example, let’s say I’m having a back pain day, and I’m not capable of going up and down the steps one more time to do laundry. I could easily ask my husband for help, but I don’t. The thought doesn’t even cross my mind that help is an option.

What does cross my mind is:

  • I’m in pain.
  • I can’t take care of myself.
  • There is no way out.
  • I can’t do this.

And I freeze.

So that’s a trauma response.

Some of these thoughts are also statements on my Crisis Continuum (Level 4/5) — which means we are headed for a severe crisis if we get stuck there too long.

It’s wild how after all this time, I still freeze and dissociate in the moment. I still don’t understand what is happening in the moment. I don’t recall what I’m thinking. It’s only now that I’m writing openly without judgment that the info gets shared.

What made me think about this now? I’ve been trying to take some time in our morning meeting to slip in some positive affirmations. Here was today’s:

Asking for help is a sign of self-respect and self-awareness.

The self-awareness part really hit me. As part of symptom management of dissociation, we are always trying to improve awareness of parts or shared awareness of information. It is 100% true for me, that recognizing I need to ask for help means I stop and practice awareness of what is going on internally. It may mean taking impulsive thoughts and difficult feelings and containing them to retrieve later for therapy. In that way, I can continue to function (instead of freeze/dissociate), and actually ask for help.

Who knew asking for help could mean I needed to use containment?



  1. Oh, boy, can I ever relate. There was nobody to help when I was a kid – so of course I had to rely on myself and of course when I got in a situation where I could ask without dire consequences and actually get help without a big blaming fuss, it never occurred to me. Here I am in my ’80’s and it still is an issue for me.

    One thinnI have found helpful is to, when I am feeling able to think, make a decision that will apply to all sorts of situations. Like, every time I notice that my back is hurting, I will stop what I am doing and rest. If somebody is nearby, I will ask them for help. Thus pain becomes a signal to ask for help. This usually happens well before I freeze! My life has become a lot simpler, with many fewer decisions to make.

    On hospitals, I understand that Shappard Pratt’s treatment of trauma has changed. Dr .Lowenstein is no longer there – don’t know who is in charge of the trauma program.

    There is a new resource –
     Dr. Joan Turkus’s trauma unit at Dominion Hospital in Virginia
    Trauma Unit at Dominion Hospital
    2960 Sleepy Hollow Rd, Falls Church, VA 22044

    Hope you won;t need hospitalization!
    Phone: (703) 536-2000

  2. Hi,
    Great connections you are making. Trauma effects/affects everything.

    My issue has always been no one cares about it. I voice it, but no one cares. I had to start saying aloud or even just in my head, I care. We all needed to hear that.

    You have a lot to be proud of in all your efforts. Sooner interventions are great for stopping issues earlier. Awareness, like you are doing, and earlier stopping are great and will have a positive impact.

    Good and healing thoughts to yous.


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