Finding a Way to Let Dad Know He Isn’t a Burden

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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I don’t think feeling like a burden is that uncommon when we’re struggling. I’ve felt this way before. Even though I needed help, I didn’t want anyone to have to adjust their lives to help me.

Asking for help makes me feel like I’m taxing to those I love. And how many times can we ask for help before our perceived allotment of generosity from others runs out?

Having experienced these feelings in my own life, I can understand my dad’s resistance to asking for help. He has Parkinson’s disease, and he knows he will continue to face increasingly complex issues as time passes. Maybe he doesn’t want to cash in on any favors just yet.

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I know he struggles as Parkinson’s throws a wrench into his life nearly every day. He does a great job of navigating most obstacles on his own, inventing new ways to eat, and finding his way around his house. I also know he can’t fight this disease on his own. And I’m not sure how to tell him that he isn’t a burden, or to encourage him to nudge me or one of his other kids when he needs a steady shoulder or hand.

Of course, if he were to ask for help, we’d have to adjust to the pace of our new lives. We might change certain things around our home or at the dinner table. But at the end of the day, it’s an adjustment instead of a weight that needs to be carried around. He’s a piece of my puzzle, and I want to do what’s in my power to support him on his own journey.

In the same way that mental health and other illnesses are commonly stigmatized, I wonder if my dad stigmatizes himself. Does he believe that he’s more of a burden than he is? Does he imagine that talking about his feelings creates an unbearable burden? Does he come from a generation of people who think that owning up to your feelings makes you weak? Or does he struggle with some combination of these feelings?

I can only speculate about what it’s like to ask those you love to support you as you struggle with a disease like Parkinson’s. But I hope we can find a way to shoulder the burden together, so that my dad doesn’t have to confront this disease by himself. We’re lucky to have a family of eight, and I’d be willing to bet that if we all created a metaphorical support beam for Dad, he’d be better equipped to handle the future.

Note: Parkinson’s 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 another 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 Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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