A Hard Truth and Facing It
Last updated: September 2021
My name is Ashley and I am deeply depressed. There! I said it. Saying this for the first time out loud to my husband was pretty surreal. It felt so strange because I couldn’t really put a finger on the root of it. What is happening to me?
My already struggling energy levels were now nonexistent. Let me just be real and raw for a second. I didn’t brush my teeth, I didn’t shower, I didn’t make the bed, I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I scrolled up and down social media platforms and then the comparison game started and that made things worse. I just wanted to sit and stare.
The experience of my depression
I felt almost like I was outside of my own body looking back at myself. What was causing this? There’s no reason I should be feeling this way. I have so much to be grateful for yet I am sitting here staring at the wall instead of going about my day enjoying the gift that another day brings. My whole body ached. My entire being was cocooned at bit. I literally wanted to sleep all the time, but couldn’t. Add insomnia to the mix and boy do you have quite a cocktail.
I would remind myself that I was stable. I had the freedom to live my life how I saw fit within reason. I didn’t have anyone to answer to other than myself. My support system is absolutely incredible. My home was safe. Yet my demeanor and mood were sad and downcast and often angry for no reason at all.
It was time to seek help
I realized that it was time to get a grasp on this thing. I didn’t know what was happening in this noggin of mine, but it was real and I needed help. I go to the doctor for physical pain and when something isn’t right - I need to go to the doctor to deal with whatever is happening in my brain. After all, the brain is always changing and sometimes things just aren’t always aligned.
The brain is such a powerful organ. Our thoughts often create a physical reaction and can spark the downward spiral somehow. It’s so very complex and complicated that I won’t even attempt to understand it all. I just knew this wasn’t how I had been feeling on an almost 4 year journey with lung cancer. I didn’t cope too well at first, but I learned how to cope with my diagnosis over time. I didn’t really recognize myself and knew that I needed some assistance.
How I started to address my depression
I made myself a therapy appointment and attempted to get that realignment that I so desperately needed. Beyond that therapy appointment, I researched and studied other ways to cope with how I was feeling in an attempt to dig myself out.
Here’s what I learned that worked for me.
- Get Dressed. This seems like a simple thing and something that wouldn’t really matter. Most of us have been trapped at home for well over a year and why get dressed when there isn’t anywhere to go or anything to do? Well, because for some reason for me, it just helped me to get my day going and ultimately feel better. Being intentional about getting out of my PJs at the very least made the difference.
- Distract. This sounds like a trick, but it works. Find something to distract you from the battle going on in your mind. I make pure soy hand-poured candles. So, I ordered my candle supplies and went to work. I found a show on Netflix and while I don't watch much television, I needed something to distract me.
- Self Development. Find a book to read that empowers you. Find a podcast to listen to that you can relate to. Podcasts are amazing for when you are driving or folding laundry or just needing something to uplift you a bit.
- Get Moving. Don’t sit in the recliner all day or lay in the bed all day if you can physically get up. Get up and move the body. Releasing endorphins is the best thing when you are in the battle of the mind. Get outside and go for a walk, ride a bike or a stationary one or even do some relaxation yoga. Any of it helps.
It can be hard to know when something isn't right
When you are in a state of depression or anxiety, it’s very difficult to realize that you are there. When you finally come to the conclusion that something is wrong, just know that you don’t have to be ashamed.
As I previously mentioned, we go to the doctor for assistance with physical ailments in our body; why wouldn’t we go to the doctor for our emotional and mental health as well. Both are equally important. There are so many resources and practitioners out there to help us and to answer our cry for help. If you are walking this journey, know that you aren’t alone. You’re going to want to give up and toss in the towel, but that isn’t an option. We need our strength to fight cancer and need a strong mind in order to do so. Keep going, friends, and know that tomorrow is a new day and we get to try again tomorrow for better days. Here's to more good days ahead.
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?