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Senior Contributor

How to accept help after a life of helping others

I'm in my mid 50's and have had careers in the helping professions most of my adult life. Listening to friends and family, and even strangers on the street has been an habitual trait I can't seem to shake.

I feel a little broken at the moment trying to avoid situations where I'm used as a sounding board for 'their' problems. My own issues are on top of me and when I try to voice my concerns, a common answer is; "You think that's bad, what about me?" I then listen and engage as usual and leave the conversation feeling ignored and alone.

I wouldn't say I'm homebound, but close enough to it to feel scary and stuck. I call Lifeline sometimes for another voice in the room (I live alone) and it's mostly productive, but it doesn't replace close connections I crave; especially to discuss happy or up-lifting topics.

I was hospitalised this year and found it exasserbating being the one who needed support. I ended up listening to other patients and ignoring my own needs.

Even now I'm tempted to read posts and reach out to help.

How do I resist this temptation and focus on my own life?


252 REPLIES 252

Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

Hello- Welcome to the forum Smiley Very Happy

i hope you find The community here a place where you can be heard. Its a good quality to have to help others and be a good ear- but yes, we all do need to take care of ourselves first dont we Smiley Happy

Have you ever tried to engage in any community activities or hobbies where there might be a couple of other people to chat to and make some friends if you wanted to?



Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

@Hope4me Firstly I'd like to join @Baboo in welcoming you to the forum Smiley Happy

I believe that it is often very difficult to show the same compassion and understanding to ourselves as we do to others and it takes alot of practice to be able to say'actually I am not OK and I need some support myself'. You have taken the first step in doing this by reaching out here @Hope4me Smiley Happy

Often when we are the ones that 'others' come to for support we also become reliant on 'helping with their issues' for our own sense of self-worth. Therefore when we are not in a position to be able to help in this way it has a trickle down effect on us helping ourselves.

I certainly don't have the answers here except to say it takes time and practice to be able to put oneself first (I definitely have not achieved this myself yet). 

The wonderful thing about this community is that we can give and/or receive support when we are able to - there are no expectations and no judgements.

Now is the time for you to receive support and I have found this forum to be filled with the most caring, compassionate and supportive people who understand, empathise and can relate to a wide range of issues and experiences. I hope you find it to be the same for you @Hope4me.

If you have any questions - just ask. If you wish to continue to read along but not respond to posts - that is ok too. Sometimes we learn more by listening than we do by speaking!

Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

Hi @Hope4me
I am glad to see you here and hope that you find the forums helpful for you! Its difficult to find a way to be heard, especially when we are 'pegged' into a particular role in relationships.
I'm glad that you have been able to use lifeline when you need to and hopefully here will be another avenue for you to be less alone. I often feel quite alone in a way, but know that i isolate myself to a large extent. I find it hard to try to open up or reach out for help from anyone other than my psychologist.
I'm not sure how to resist the temptation but i wondered whether seeking out a new situation would help to generate new friendships? Taking up a new hobby or joining a walking group or a book club at a library or anything else might open up new opportuntities perhaps?
Take care of yourself Smiley Happy

Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

Thankyou @Baboo, @Zoe7 and @Former-Member for your responses;

Such wonderful and kind words...I'm smiling as I didn't know if I'd get a reply and now I have 3. Woman Happy

I've tried a women's group and see family now and then, but my MH isn't what it could be which tends to confuse and overwhelm me, especially in groups. I have an abundence of empathy as I've said, and this is maybe a guise for avoidance or fitting in to be liked.

I mostly stay within my four walls in case there's conflict or unexpected events. I have a history of traumatic experiences since childhood, and up to a few yrs ago dealt with things ok. (Ignorance is bliss) However, the glass eventually had to overfill and I broke down; one too many trauma's.

I've since retired and found myself in an habitual cycle of bad sleeping patterns that means I sleep during the day, and stay up all night. My diet's less than healthy and my TV, phone and laptop have become my surrogate friends.

I have plenty of psych support, med's, coping strategies and emergency resources, though I must say I'm a bit tired of 'learning' about myself and recovery. Ptsd flashbacks and anxiety keep me on my toes, which is another reason I don't venture out so much.

Anyway, I'm still here and that's the main thing. It's lovely to meet you all and will endeavour to stay in touch. I may look around for a social space on here; I'm not familiar with navigating the site yet, but practice makes perfect.

Thankyou all again...Hope


Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

I've just been cruising the site, and found a discussion about Neuroplasticity by @OstaraAust on Aug 8. It was amazing! I sat through the 1 hr documentary in awe as each scientist went over their findings.

I'd love to be a part of the next installment on 12 Sept at 7pm. I'm assuming it's then; 2nd Tues of the month? I'm not sure if reminders are given or if I need to put it on my own calendar, but I'd really like to be here. I have questions.


Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

Hi @Hope4me - usually if you
like' the first page they will remind you when it starts ( @NikNik - will this happen?) I also love the different events and info sessions that are run, though i am often trying to get kids to bed at the same time Smiley Very Happy

Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

That's right @Hope4me The sessions are the 2nd Tuesday of the month, kicking off at 7pm AEST.

As @Former-Member said, if you 'Like' the first post in that thread, we will @mention you at the start of the session and you will an email, assuming you have your notifications on.

If you got an email notification about this post, then you have your notifications on Smiley Happy

Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

Thanks for the info @NikNik and @Former-Member. I'm learning as I go. I just posted on the sport page, but it came back with 'cannot be authenticated'. I'm unsure if my post will be allowed. Pitty, I enjoyed writing it.

Can I ask how long it takes for my posts to be moderated and posted? It'd help with timing responses etc.

I'm loving the discussions on lighter topics. I'm not confident yet with heavier issues though as I want to take my time and not rush my compultion to help others before myself.

Anyway, dinner cookin' time. Cheers to all...

Hope Heart



Re: How to accept help after a life of helping others

Ah! It posted straight away!

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