I’m in a place I hate right now. That’s not like me, not to enjoy life where I’m dumped, placed or fallen. This is difficult. For those of you who may be new to my writing, I usually write about living with chronic pain because I have lived with it for over 27 years. Currently I am going through a different experience for me; I am recovering from a mastectomy on the left side of my chest. After many medical consults, and a tumor board’s opinion at a major hospital in Portland, Oregon, about two hours from my home, I am going through radiation therapy.
It’s so different than the usual pain in my sitter and my other joints. It’s different than the Sjogren’s Syndrome which I have which leaves my mouth and eyes dangerously dry all the time. Unfortunately, they’re all still there and the new problems just piled on top. I’m living in a hotel to keep from making that long trip each day and I’m homesick. The inconveniences of being away from home are multiple and this week my husband is the family member who is traveling with me. Last week it was my son and next I’ll be accompanied by my daughter and my youngest two grandkids. The sheer volume of items I travel with is astounding, such as food, a humidifier, two shirts every day to cover my loss of breast, etc. My husband tells people it’s like traveling with the First Lady…Ha Ha. I’m married to a humorous man; most of the time. He’s just been cleared of lymph node involvement due to having melanoma so he’s had a few bad days lately, actually, we both have.
I don’t want this to be too depressing, so please, hang in there with me and we’ll end this on a hopeful note: I promise.
Is it any wonder to anyone I have been having depression. Let’s see: My chest is getting radiated and therefore fried five days a week, I have a burn that is beginning to blister, and therefore I am either gooey with Vitamin D, E crème or sticky with aloe vera. I am receiving physical therapy to keep the lymph system, muscles and movement mobile as well in my left arm and shoulder. I love having my surgical wound and scar massaged…not. Other than all of that life is just hunky doo.
I don’t like being depressed. It feels terrible. I cry, I question my decisions, I’m miserable to be with and to me, from the view in here, or should I say down there, the light has gone out. That’s the reason I can’t stand or stay in this state for long.
Being depressed, for those of you who haven’t been there, all 5 of you, is like falling into a deep, very dark hole. I don’t like it down there and like a highly motivated acrobat, I immediately begin to jump out, crawl out or put up a crying search for help. If I was a decent acrobat or even a real one I’d have a trampoline. Maybe I should look into that.
I think everyone has their own way of pulling out of depression and some folks actually enjoy that state. For some it feels good to wallow. I understand pigs get accustomed to it and it’s a happy habit. I save wallowing for pigs and don’t even want to go there. It’s not only a porker habit but it leads nowhere. I know, there are those who believe it’s healthy but as healthy as wallowing may supposed to be, does it change anything? One way to get out of wallowing that comes to mind? Acceptance is all I can think of and for most of us it does take time to adjust to change. We humans somehow believe life is a big rose garden and we are the butterflies. Even rose gardens have to deal with fungus, manure and insects. You see, life isn’t perfect. Why do we always expect it? If you must wallow, pull out as quickly as you can manage, before it becomes a way of coping by obtaining short term sympathy from others. Sympathy is a hollow emotion and leads you to dangerous depths of behavior. Don’t make that your major form of obtaining love, okay?
How do I pull out of depression and how can you? There are many cures and only a few come in medicine bottles. I prefer the ones that don’t but that isn’t true for everyone who may need medical help. It’s okay. You must do what works for you. Just don’t mix your bottles, okay? Let’s just look at a few of the natural methods that also work.
Be grateful. An attitude of gratitude can lead you to look around at a world you haven’t really seen when you and I have been down in that hole. Try making a mental or written list of at least 5-10 beautiful or meaningful items in your view. Look out the window, sit on the porch and look for beauty. A neighbor’s roses or other glorious plants or trees can be wonderful. Look at the fruits in your kitchen. Have you ever wondered at the glory that created an artichoke, an apple or observed the delicious odors arising from a pot of beef stew filled with all of nature’s bounty? Read something beautiful like a Psalm, a poem or a funny sign on a wall. My home is filled with them. One of them says, “UNLESS YOU’RE GEORGE STRAIT OR GOD; TAKE OFF YOUR BOOTS.” There is beauty in humor because it makes you smile and find the sunny side of your personality. There is always beauty in our pets by their very design and personality. I love the way tiny George lopes across the floor chasing after his miniature Kong or a ball. Beauty is there and deserves our gratitude.
Gratitude should also extend to ourselves. Like yourself. You are not your disease. You are not your pain. You have been installed and instilled with multiple possibilities and you need to “feed” them. Remember loving all of those you love must begin with loving yourself.
Give your depression away. Give away a smile, a polite action, a passing kind remark or something more tangible. Make cookies for a neighbor for no reason. Praying for someone in need can bless you as well as the one who is prayed for. Go for a slow walk in the mall and talk to anyone who looks despondent or just give them a smile.
Watch the company you keep. Depression pulls us to a dark place. Don’t make it worse by concentrating on how the world is going to hell, some murderer gone mad or the country going to “the dogs.” Too much of this can shut out the light and make your world darker. Unless you’re God Himself, you can’t do that much about all of those issues anyway. Be careful about going to the worst outcome of life’s big challenges all over this globe and here at home; do what you can do. Write letters, vote and keep up your attitude. Enough of this doom’s day attitude because it is bringing you down and ruining this 24 hours of your life.
Look for and embrace symbols of joy. I have a tiny gold filigree egg that hangs on a chain around my neck that belonged to my much loved sister-in-law. Eggs are a symbol or ongoing life. Our home is full of symbols and gifts from family and friends which bring us pleasure.
How will I do this? I’ll follow my own rules to make it through another 14 treatments of radiation therapy. I know I will be relieved and my full, hearty spirit will return, but when any one of us face so many assaults to our lives, our bodies and our very physicality, it is a huge challenge. We are not our bodies. We are spiritual creatures and the spirit must lead the way. Don’t be afraid to fly.