Post Whipple, post chemo follow up

I haven’t written anything in awhile, but it’s hard to sort out in my mind what I want to actually say when I tap on the keyboard forming word after word until it unfolds like a sentence that makes everything so definitive.

When you have anxiety and panic attacks, well, your mind churns out scenarios by the millisecond and none of it is pleasant. For a moment, after my mother’s eighth chemo treatment (4 post Whipple), I was riding high, I was untouchable, everything seemed to fall right back into place as if a clock started ticking counterclockwise. My subconscious, on the other hand, is determined to not let me forget, it would only conjure all my worries and fears. It was good at that. I don’t sleep. I mean, I have always had a problem with insomnia, but I find myself sinking into my pillow, as though I’m on a cloud, but on a cloud in the middle of a thunderstorm. My mind usually drifts towards my mother, sensing that she’s awake too; worrying just like me, alone with our thoughts, five minutes between us, laying among the darkness that lingers in the room. Her voice echoes in my mind, she’s always saying, “I get tired of talking about this, it’s all I do” I tell her that it’d be difficult to think about anything else, and that it’s okay that she does. But I feel like she still thinks she’s a burden. I remind her that cancer is a burden, she is not the burden.

We usually talk on the phone at the same time every day, for an hour 2pm-3pm. It makes everything seem normal, like nothing has shifted, it makes me forget our “new normal”.

We like to go to the casino and gamble a bit, not too much-$20.00 or sometimes we slip an extra $1 or 2 hopeful that we’ll leave there with a little more than what we started with; hopeful that we will have beat the machine.

My mom had her first follow up appointment since her last chemo treatment yesterday, the doctor told her that her cancer marker (CA-19-9) looked good-it was 11. My mom didn’t think so, and my anxious mind didn’t hesitate to want to fire questions until the fuel had run out.

“Oh no, it went up” I could hear the strain in her voice. My ears were burning. My entire body was getting hot and my face was turning red. Six weeks post Whipple, her cancer marker was 5, then 7 and now 11. The doctor assured us that it was fine. She said, “You could come in here tomorrow and get blood work and it may be lower” and “A man had cancer that metastasized, and post chemo his numbers went up but nothing was found on the CT scan.”  But of course I had to google it. And of course, I must have found a dark path that led me to what seemed to me to be the dark web. What I was finding online was like walking along the edge of a skyscraper in complete and utter darkness.

I did get in my car after that, and cried what felt like water drowning me. The new normal has yet again emerged. Follow up appointments, CT scans, bloodwork, wondering, worrying, praying and praying, feeling at times, God, my dad, my grandma, grandpa, and best friend were with me trying to ease my anxious thoughts and asking for me to have faith. It is so scary though.

I want to go away on a little trip with my mother, just me and her. I’ve never taken a trip where it was just me and her before. She loves beaches, so we’re trying to decide Florida or Cape Cod. I’ve never been to Cape Cod, so that may be the place. Today, during our phone call, we talked about all the places we’ve ever dreamed we could go. Greece, Australia, Italy, Hawaii, Ireland were the top choices, but she said that now, and the older she gets, the places that she once dreamt about going seem so distant and left in the past. Now, she said, “I just want to go to a beach”.

Whipple Procedure

My mother had her surgery -the Whipple procedure- 5 days ago. The surgery started on time, at 7:30 am and ended around 3:30 pm. She was in the recovery for 2 hours before they moved her to a room closer to 6 pm. The surgery was 8 hours long due to the tumor being near a major artery. The doctor explained that he took a vein from her groin to somehow connect it to well…medical jargon. But the important part is that he said he got the entire tumor out. He said, “it went super good”, and that he, “got it all”. She has to follow up with him in 1-2 weeks to go over the pathology results and will decide the next step from there.

The next morning, around 9 am she had already gone on two walks around the hospital, drank some water, broth, and cranberry juice. Around lunch time, she ate fish, carrots, and mashed potatoes. Shortly thereafter, she started feeling nauseated and throwing up. Not really sure, if it was the food or the pain medicine that someone gave her without her consent-(but not going to get into that here). She threw up three times -bile-the nurses took it to test it since they said that it wasn’t normal…totally not what my good ol’ google education taught me.

Me and my stepfather stayed with her the throughout the night. It took awhile to get her some Zofran-almost 4 hours or so, and until they finally came with that, she could not sleep. I kept bugging the nurse because I felt so awful-it’s difficult to watch someone suffer without being able to do something about it. We stayed up the entire night making sure my mom was comfortable; adjusting her pillows and blankets as needed, helping her get to the bathroom since she was a fall hazard, cooling her down with a cold washcloth. I must admit, I’ve never seen my mother so vulnerable before this, but even when she’s vulnerable she’s a fighter. My mother amazes me.

After that last meal, they decided to put her back on an “IV diet” for the rest of the night and throughout Thursday. My stepfather stayed with her again Thursday night. I got to her room around 12 pm and she had already gone on 3 walks, was back on solid foods, and as she puts it, “she’s just a little sore”. The doctor and his physician’s assistant removed the drains and IV and any medicine she had to take was administered orally. She was also given a shot, (which my stepfather had/has to give to her), and will have to get for the next two weeks to prevent blood clots. She is also taking Imodium for diarrhea and Pepcid to prevent ulcers.

I stayed the night Friday night, and by 8 am on Saturday, her birthday, the doctor gave her the good news that she was ready to go home.

Everything I have read on the Internet about this cancer thus far, has not applied to my mother. While anxiety still lurks, I do realize and appreciate that everyone is different, and now know that the Internet’s sad stories overshadow the individual victories; small or big.

The Biggest Demon

For years now, with anxiety and depression by my side, I have been fighting for my life, laying in bed or sitting on the couch; hiding from the world.

From August 3, to today, with cancer by my mother’s side, she is fighting for her life while being infused with the most aggressive chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer. A fight that left her exhausted, weak, and vulnerable; yet, I could always sense the strength that would emanate from her whole being.

This was the biggest demon that one could ever experience; it is something that will stare you right in the face and mock us all. Her strength gave me strength. But only when I was with her.

Once we saw the surgeon, the chemo was scheduled. This was it. It was going to be what will be remembered as the start of peeling away the mask to reveal its true face; the truth of what was trying to hide and hurt us all.

And the truth shall set you free.

She was scheduled for four rounds of chemo. Each treatment would last five hours and were on Wednesdays. Each time I went with her, and each time, I felt like everything was going to be okay. Sitting with her; just “being” with her I felt like I in control somehow. Once home, a nurse would come over and hook a “chemo ball” to her port, and she would have chemo until Friday around 2pm.

Those days, while she was home, were the days where anxiety would come to comfort me. It would keep me awake all night, mind racing, fear, pain, and then finally, running out of my home to drive around until the early morning.  I’d wake up in sheer panic and I would need to flee. Fight or flight. My automatic response was always: flight.

When she was resting at home with my stepfather, and I couldn’t be next to her, my control diminished. I knew she had to rest as much as possible, and I would wait, but I lived and breathed her cancer each and every single day I had to wait. I have, however, made a vow to myself to never show any signs of weakness around her.

The amount of time that it took to recover from the chemo treatment extended with each one.

I was losing my mind.

“God has a reason for this, you have to have faith”

Anxiety and Panic laugh…faith cannot be controlled. Somehow chaos seems to feel more controllable. Somehow.

Somehow, going from waking up in the middle of the night in a state of panic to driving around from 2 am -7 am relieved me from my reality.

Somehow, staying awake and not going to sleep, relieved me from my reality.

Somehow, I am comfortable only when I’m uncomfortable.

And when I could talk to her and she is feeling good,  I am comfortable in my reality.

The fourth and last chemo treatment was October 4-my mom and stepfather 26th wedding anniversary. It was also at that time, that my mom had blood work to determine if she had a cancer gene.

Her father (my grandfather) had 3 brothers, and 4 sisters. Upon discovering that two of his brother’s had intestinal cancer, one brother had pancreatic cancer, and one sister had breast cancer, and my mother’s first cousin also had pancreatic cancer, all who passed away around the same age as my mother, it was determined it would be a good idea to go ahead with the test. The doctor explained that if she had it, that meant that it gave my sister and I a 50% chance in getting it, but we could have access to preventative care. The insurance company just approved it last week, and we were told that it could take 2-3 weeks to get the results. My sister doesn’t want to know. In fact, part of me doesn’t either.

Also, at her fourth chemo treatment, we were told that her cancer marker (CA-19) went from 53 to 19, which was a good sign, but just one factor.

October 27, was her CT scan. The doctor said the CT scan showed that the cancer did not spread and the tumor went from 2.9 cm to 2.4 cm. He would go ahead with the Whipple procedure.

It is scheduled for Nov. 28. He informed us that if, at the beginning of the surgery, if he found that the cancer did actually spread, he would forego the surgery, but that’s only a 9% chance of that being the case.

That means she’ll have more time to recover from chemo until the surgery date.

These past couple weeks, since she has a break from chemo, I️ don’t feel so out of control because it’s just like it was before the diagnosis.

The surgeon did say that she might have to have chemo, however, a less aggressive form, about 4-6 weeks post surgery. That is not what my mom or any of us wanted to hear, but her response as it always has been throughout this was, “Well, I got to do what I got to do” followed with “I guess”. Revealing, again, her strength, but with a small fragmented piece of the mental and emotional pain that this has brought upon her.

She made me feel better when she said those words. It was like a filtered bedtime story to help me drift off to sleep with a pleasant dream.

She will beat this.

She will.

She will prevail. We all will.

How One Word Can Change Everything In Your World

Cancer. I’ve read the word. I’ve heard the stories. In fact, my father died of liver cancer August 14, 2005, heck, I’ve even diagnosed myself a few times during my late night Google searches. But I never thought I’d have to actually ever experience the pain that, that word has caused me and so many other people. I never thought I’d have to feel the intense heartbreak for a long, long, time. Still, mourning my best friend, who died 2 years ago, I was not prepared to be face to face with something so painful so soon.

All I could do is crumble to the floor after I locked the bathroom door of the hospital. My insides ached all over. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk. I’d commit suicide. That would be my plan, I decided, hoping to cease the debilitating pain. Or at least so I could get out to the car.

Anger surged through me, yet I felt lifeless. If the tears didn’t slide down my cheeks, I wouldn’t have known they were actually mine. I felt foreign to this body that knew not how to move from the current state of paralysis I was in.

My mother still recovering from the anesthesia, was half listening as the doctor who did her endoscopic biopsy, pulled up a chair to discuss what he found. I knew it was bad news. I knew because he had just been talking to another patient two beds over, divided by curtains, while standing.

I didn’t want to cry in front of my mother when he announced that, she did in fact, have a 4cm malignant tumor on her pancreas. He had just pierced my heart with his words.

“She has pancreatic cancer” I had been researching it all over the internet, consumed by it, since the week before she went to the emergency room with jaundice.

She had an ultrasound on Friday, a CT scan on Monday, and the biopsy exactly one week after the ER visit.

Throughout all my research, I found nothing but horrible news. Poor survival rates, “#2 silent killer” is what one website referred to it as. And even though the doctor told me not to go based on everything I’ve read online because it’s all outdated information anyway, I couldn’t believe him, and how could I? I thought it only made logical sense, and how could it not? I just couldn’t believe that every single thing I read online was inaccurate.

I have spent every single day since, googling different keywords, hoping, desperately seeking some glimmer of hope. I just couldn’t live without my mom. I just couldn’t.

When I wasn’t googling information about pancreatic cancer, I was googling painless ways to commit suicide. I was not going to live without my mother. I felt like everyone kept leaving me. Sure, it sounds selfish, but I never am anything but positive around my mother. I didn’t want to be a beacon of pain when she was still in positive spirits. And whether she cried when I wasn’t around, I do not know. But I did know that I wanted to be the one to control when I die.

She’s been referred to an oncologist, and the doctor who did her biopsy, told her that she is a good candidate for the Whipple procedure. He would make the recommendation and then we’ll go from there;  it’s all a waiting game at this point.

My heart is broken. My heart is irreparable. I feel guilty that she’s the one going through this. I want to give her my pancreas, my everything; I don’t want her to suffer. She retired three years ago, and she is so full of energy and life, and I’ve done nothing but NOT live my life. I’ve done nothing, but allow depression to consume me, anxiety to fill me with fear and panic, that I stopped living. And yet, here she is, diagnosed with cancer. I cannot live without my mom. I just can’t.

How can this be true? How can something like this just change your life forever-in an instant?

Four months ago, in late March, she started complaining of abdominal pain. Her doctor suggested probiotics. They didn’t work. She begged them for a CT scan, but the insurance wouldn’t cover it. Instead, they referred her to a digestive disease specialist, but they couldn’t get her in until August 3-one day after her biopsy. It took her to develop jaundice and her bloodwork to show elevated bilirubin levels for them to take action. I am angry. Each day, after that ER visit, symptoms developed rapidly-every new day brought on a new symptom. It was so scary to see the whites of her eyes and her skin so yellow.  There was no way I could be in denial. I tried to be positive and tell myself it was a benign tumor or maybe even a cyst, but that quickly waned when the information from the many google searches vividly flashed over and over in my mind.

Along with the biopsy, they also inserted a bile stent to decrease/eliminate her symptoms. Her skin, no longer yellow, she’s no longer itchy, and her stomach pain has ceased. But none of that changes what the reality is and I just want to be near her all day, all the time.

I’m scared. I’m broken. This can’t be happening. I keep taking deep breaths because the pain is that deep in my lungs. I’ve been coping with Xanax, sleep, anxiety, Xanax, more sleep.

The other day, I picked up some low fat, low fiber foods at the grocery store for her, and I just wish I could cook all of her meals for her. It scares me that her and my stepfather’s daily routine will not change. Since my stepfather was declared permanently disabled for spinal stenosis (he’s also had multiple surgeries and is still not completely free of pain), they are used to going out to lunch daily-she usually used to just eat a small meal-but even now, my stepfather wants to carry on with their daily routine of going out to eat. She asks for no butter, no oil, but is that really enough?

I have so much fear and worry, and absolutely no control…I can’t think of anything other than this.

My thoughts waver back and forth, like a radio station playing a sad song and then another station playing an upbeat song-never in sync no matter how hard I try to just keep the positive, hopeful thoughts on replay, but they just quickly transform into radioactive sparks and shocks that leave me googling things I shouldn’t be.

My thoughts are cancerous cells that spread throughout my mind and body, and the more I try to divert my negative thoughts, the more vivid and abrupt the negativity becomes.

Remembering What I Tried So Hard to Forget

I don’t even know where to begin. What do you do when you don’t know where to begin? Do you just keep going, walking a straight line, or walking in circles? I have visited this blog over and over again. Like a circle. I have somehow lost my way to find that straight line, or maybe I just realized life is not a straight line and I just got tired of following it.

Perhaps I just grew weary of climbing.

I have logged in. Logged out. Pretended it no longer existed…

I didn’t want to remember, what I used to be; how far the current of the river had taken me away from where I left off. My footprints had succumbed to the thousand other footprints that still had the eagerness to go forward; to not stand still; to explore.

I forgot which way I was going. Or perhaps, I made myself forget.

It was too hard to come back to. Too hard to just exist. I know none of this makes any sense. It didn’t, and still doesn’t to me. I wrote so many times, but I didn’t want to share. I didn’t want this to be a diary. What started out as a fitness journey, collapsed at the death of my best friend.

It’s been two years. I’ve been through every emotion, and found myself at the bottom too many times. I was pretty certain that I was ready to die. I was done with life. I had done all I had to; experienced everything I wanted, and saw no point in living any longer.

There was no point in going to the gym. No point in getting dressed or putting makeup on.No point in leaving the house. I was done. Officially done.

I was ready for the tide to take me in its icy arms and cradle me forever.

People left me alone, as I wanted them to, I didn’t care. I didn’t want anyone. And when I did talk to someone, it was usually a family member, and they didn’t understand, nor did I care to ever make them understand.

What was going on with me, “Was ‘just nonsense’… Was, as they say, ‘all in my head”.

Why can’t you just get out and do things.”Why can’t you just…

Why can’t you just...

Why can’t you just…

The screams echoes inside of me, and just confirmed that I…

I was done. I did not care. Why do I need to go anywhere? I did not care. I lived my life. I was done. But I knew that they, or no one who hasn’t ever experienced it, would only ridicule me and judge me. So I decided it was best to just limit my contact with them, and when I did talk to them, I made sure to never discuss what was going on with me.

I didn’t want to commit suicide. I didn’t want to leave my kids without a mother. I did not want to take my own life; I was just ready to die.

It doesn’t make any sense. I know that. But, nothing made sense to me, and I can’t say I ever cared.

My mind didn’t go beyond the footprints that were buried on that path, in the same spot.  No longer were the etches of the life that I once had lived recognizable. Everything I once knew or dreamed of, traveled on without me, clinging to others’ footprints, seeping into the crevices of another sole, and then dragged until the remnants; what was left, had fallen into the once well paved path.

A lot can happens in a year, ‘they’ say.

It’s been 2 years, I believe, since I even had the urge to write something, anything…

So much has changed. Rightfully so. Life, in general, changes you.

Moments change you, and some of those moments, change A LOT, as they rob you of your identity, your soul, spirit, energy and your footprints.

I often imagine, selfishly, that the ocean is cradling me and I’m at peace, relaxed and full of life.

And then, I unravel from its arms as it crashes to shore…

I wipe my tears. My eyes widen, my heart thumps harder…spread out before me is an entire canvas to sink my feet into; to carve new footprints. And as I hear the water’s sweet sound washing away behind me, I place one foot in the sand, and then the other, carefully allowing the cold, damp sand between my toes, wrapping them like a gift.

And I can’t help but notice that each footprint is deeper then the last.

Coping With Pain and Worry

I wrote this staring at this white blank space on wordpress, and I didn’t really worry about editing it….In fact, I couldn’t even come up with a title and I’m going to bed to try to at least fall asleep….

“You look like you lift…” (I heard this in the gym a few times)
Really? Well, I do…
Can you see the pain; the bruises, the deep nest that anxiety and most recently, depression, has burrowed itself into?
You look like you lift
Thank you, because underneath I feel like I have to lift this burden off my body every single day
It feels so heavy, and I’m so tired so battered tethered and worn
Oh you were talking about weights
Weren’t you?
Every day I struggle to lift; to carry the pain that recklessly pulls at my core
As I desperately try to cover up and hide
(I’m) Not willing to unveil the demons that fuse the flames between the angst and desperation that wrestles inside of me
I lift in my sleep
I lift the pain, I lift the emptiness;
The chaos that corrupts my entire being
I lift when I awaken and when I am dreaming
There is no calm there is no storm
It’s all in mind, but then again it’s really not
It’s physical and I keep lifting
I keep fighting
I keep lifting
Internally; externally my body won’t even let me shut down
I fear the worst, I fear the least
I fear FEAR
But the fear is deeper than me
Damn It
It’s a curse
But every day
I lift
Every moment of every second
I lift
And therefore
I become stronger
I become able
I become willing
I can lift more, I can see more, do more, live more
So yes, you say, “you look like you lift”
And physically, emotionally, mentally
Yes I do. I do lift
My body reflects my fight

I give it all I got, I leave all of me behind…

I grasp the iron, contract the muscle, divert the mind

reaching for something that weighs heavier than what’s inside of me; heavier than what’s trying to suffocate me; something that reminds me that I’m still alive; vulnerable, yet in control…

Tonight, I was sitting on the floor with a barbell weighing 275 pounds preparing to do hip thrusts, when I awkwardly made eye contact with a girl who was obviously talking about me to her friend. At that point, I was exhausted, but still wanted to push that amount of weight, but I just couldn’t; my mind unraveled the worst….

She was probably seeing the weakness in my eyes, or that the fight in me was fading…

I did feel broken and detached, and with that barbell hovering over my hips, I just couldn’t seem to make my mental and physical self connect.

I sat there feeling like I was no longer in control.

I decided to at least unload the bar down to 205 and completed a set. 8 reps and I was done. I couldn’t stop sweating, I was burning up, and my heart was pounding hard. After putting the weight back (of course), I was leaving the gym, and the girl who had been watching me, made eye contact with me and quietly said, “Every time you’re in here, you’re always killing it in the gym”…..

That made me smile. That made me feel vulnerable, but only for a little while.

Tomorrow is my doctor’s appointment with the endocrinologist….

Depression: I Can’t “Just Get Over It”…Yet

I remember when I started this blog. I wanted to fill it with everything fitness…and I still do, but I’m really struggling. I haven’t wanted to burden anyone’s eyes with words of sadness or dismay, but everyday for the past couple months has been a struggle, so hoping this will be therapeutic….

I am not where I want to be, nor am I who I want to be…

I haven’t done any cardio for weeks (almost a month), In fact, I haven’t really done much of anything, except fighting some darkness, and trying to find the light that once ignited the fire deep within me. These days, it’s all it takes for me to get out of bed. I’ve had more off days from the gym than I’ve had since I started this journey about 5 years ago. However, when I do get there, I go heavy. .

I go heavy to push all that darkness out of me…

But when a new day begins, I’m plagued by the same demons.

It’s no secret that I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for the same amount of time I started going to the gym. The gym, the weights; the control it gave me, molded my purpose, and made me fight harder than I ever knew was possible. It showed me what I was capable of and chipped away at a lot of fears and buried a lot of doubts I had about myself; about life, my purpose etc…

Fast forward, when my best friend of 16 years, passed away at the end of July, and I suddenly felt alone. I went to Las Vegas a week later for an already paid vacation and I couldn’t shake the invasive thoughts of how, I, too was ready to die.

Honestly, I don’t know how I made it through that week. 

But, Vegas, I guess was a distraction. It felt different. But I felt different. I felt that it wasn’t me who was experiencing the things that surrounded me; I felt like I was just existing, and all these things; the lights, the photo taking, the eating, the laying out in the sun, just happened to be occurring, with each breath I took, every step,and with all of that, I was stuck with an extremely deep and penetrating pain and void…

And it only got worse when we came back from our trip. I was forced to deal with the reality every time I felt pain and went to pick up the phone to call her, and suddenly realized that she wasn’t ever going to be there to answer, and all I had was a voice mail from her, but I wanted so much more. I started eating like shit, my obsession with the gym was waning, and social media just became too painful to log on to.

All of it seemed like a waste of time; a vacant place to unload a false perception of my reality.

And I certainly didn’t want to socialize or interact with anyone else in person. I was being buried and I didn’t want to fix it. For once, I didn’t care to fight, to fix anything, I just wanted to shut down and sleep. I’ve suffered from acne since I was 16 and at this point, the medication that had gave me clear skin and helped my confidence was suddenly ineffective. My face was breaking out like I was 16 all over again. I was embarrassed, I felt ugly, and I was sinking into a further depression, especially when my reflection in the mirror would point out 5 or 6 more pimples to look at. And I couldn’t stop crying over the loss of my friend. I was grieving and feeling desperate…

Finally, I went to my primary doctor for help.

She ordered blood work to test my hormone levels as well as my thyroid and vitamin d levels which all came back normal, but after feeling around my thyroid, she requested that I also have a thyroid ultrasound done. She found a nodule and all I could think was the worst. Of course, I researched what it meant to have a nodule, and grew even more scared and anxious. And where I once was following a more flexible diet, I cut out all dairy, sugar, and processed food, hoping that it would make me healthier. That maybe I did something to my body; I caused this. I did this to myself…

I’ve always struggled with insomnia, but now I would lay awake until 6 or 7 am. Every night is plagued with worrying, crying, panicking, feeling my heart race, my whole body shake and perspire, I want so desperately to just be able to close my eyes and fall asleep that when I finally do, I don’t want to open my eyes to feel the pain.

In the past couple days, I’ve received two phone calls: one confirming that I have a nodule and one to to schedule the appointment with the endocrinologist, and now I just want to sleep even more to forget.

Funny how I sit here and as, I write this, I wonder what happened to me? What happened to that woman who fought so hard for strength and the freedom from the terror of anxiety and panic attacks that make me feel confined, institutionalized within my own mind. Where I once started to stand strong, I have now crashed. I am at my weakest. I am vulnerable; I feel shattered, broken, and stumbling over my own thoughts. Yes, I feel I’m at my weakest point. I’ve allowed the intensity of my emotions and circumstances to grow and wrap snug around my neck much like a venomous snake.

Depression is real. You may not be able to see it, there may not be blood tests to determine that you have depression, there will be people who don’t understand it, who think it’s made up or you’re just doing all of this on purpose, or for attention. There will be people that will tell you to ask for a higher dose of medication, more xanax, more ativan, more of anything that will numb you. But what is forgotten is that not all depression is “fixed” with medication. Going out more, socializing more, or getting out of bed is not something that will “fix” a depressed, anxious person. It’s bigger than that. In fact, it is quite similar to a venomous snake wrapping itself around your entire body and mind. It’s not a phase and it doesn’t matter if you are attractive, rich, drive a nice car, or live in a huge mansion, depression affects everyone. It’s just unfortunate that there are some people who don’t understand it and make ignorant comments that only causes the sufferer more pain.

Trying to rationalize a person’s thoughts or behaviors is not helpful. Making a statement such as, “If you’re going to live this way for the next 30 years, you might as well kill yourself” is not helpful. (Yes, I had someone say this to me) That’s just toxic. (Maybe if people weren’t so callous with their words, people suffering with depression and anxiety wouldn’t hide away and shut down.) Your anger at someone’s depression or anxiety isn’t going to make the person “snap out of it”.

Things that are helpful are:

1.) Letting the person know that although you may not understand, you are there for them when they’re ready.

2.) If the person tells you that they’re not suicidal, don’t keep bringing it up.

3.) It’s okay to worry about the person and only natural to want to help, but don’t take it personal and share your anger. It does not help at all. It only makes the person feel even more hopeless and depressed.

4.) You are not a therapist, or a doctor, leave the treatment plan between the patient and their doctors. What worked for you, may not be what will work for everyone else. Everyone experiences depression for different reasons and sometimes there’s actually a reason.

Any thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Saying Goodbye

I’ve taken some time off. Not deliberately, but somehow I had found myself drifting again. Drifting in a direction that left me numb; an, “I don’t give a shit” attitude, everything is stupid”, and that’s how it was for awhile. In fact, there has been many times I’ve started to write, and nothing seem to be worthy of posting, or I just wanted to block everything out for awhile.

I guess I just didn’t want to feel anymore.

It’s funny because the last post I wrote was about giving up…I don’t even know who that was. Perhaps, I forgot.

Perhaps,  I let myself become numb for too long…

All I could picture in my mind over and over again, was my friend of 16 years in a hospital bed, waiting for a heart transplant, and I kind of just shut down. I started sleeping more; truthfully, I was in a fog. I was so used to being able to call her and talk to her for hours through the night whenever I was anxious or just bored. We always had the best conversations at 2 am, often staying on the phone until we just barely fell asleep. I cherished those phone conversations, and I missed them. But I also recognized that she was going through something far more detrimental than me missing a phone call or a conversation.

When I did speak to her, she was always upbeat and tell me about all the things she was going to do with her new heart. We made plans to hang out and go to her favorite restaurants. She told me how excited she was to be able to truly live life pain free; she couldn’t wait to visit different places, see different things. In particular, she talked often about moving to Virginia because that is where her “psychic” told her she would meet the man she was going to marry. (She was a spiritual person)

The thing was is that she believed and I did not. Perhaps that was a part of the anxiety? I did find comfort when she would talk about her new heart, but it just wasn’t enough to put my subconscious mind at ease.

In a way, I feel like I abandoned her as well as myself.

She was in the hospital in New York City for about 5 1/2 months, undergoing tests, and the doctors trying everything to get the water weight off of her as well as clean her blood. Listening to her, while often comforting because she stayed optimistic, but I could often hear the question in her voice. And I guess I learned to become numb to it, I didn’t want to walk the same path that death was leaving its footsteps. I struggled with her being there, it was selfish, I know, but like I said, I just became numb.

In July, she was transferred back to a hospital near her home. It was at that time that the truth was revealed; she was never going to get a heart because she had too many antibodies in her system and her kidneys were failing. I don’t know the specifics, it was all so confusing to me, and it didn’t even really hit me until the day of my daughter’s high school graduation party when she texted me to tell me she needed to see me.

Her mother was the first to send me a message via Facebook, informing me that her daughter didn’t have much time left, and she knew that now, but she was really worried about how she was going to tell me.

But I already knew. I had known for 2 weeks before she did. Her mother let me know and asked me not to say anything and just stay positive around her. That was the easiest thing to do; it was like I was cast this role and I could be in denial without feeling like a piece of shit. After all, I was just doing what I was told.

They say life is fleeting; every moment should be cherished, but for the last few months, I dedicated every moment to improving my strength in the gym, and with every lift, I could only feel the grip that death had on me, I wasn’t in that hospital bed, dying, but I was out here, walking the same grave path. I wanted to hurt, I wanted to feel pain, but I could do nothing to stimulate those feelings.

Nothing felt the same, when I wrote, I wasn’t sure it was really my voice that was speaking, when I took a picture and looked at myself, I wasn’t sure if that was me in the image that was captured.

It was probably the same unrecognizable image; the same voice that came out of me, as she looked at me in the hospital room that evening, her eyes not directly looking at me, maybe she saw it too?

I just started crying, I knew; I already knew, and I wanted to stop her from saying it, I wanted to tell her I knew.

I wanted to comfort her, but through it all, I initially was angry at myself. .

I was so angry that I allowed myself to grow away from her; to become numb; that I didn’t spend more time talking to her, laughing with her, crying with her, all because I chose to empty out my emotions right on the gym floor instead.

And now there I sat, pleading for her not to go. It felt so selfish, I didn’t want her to leave. She cried and said that she wasn’t ready to let go either, but she had no choice. She was my anchor. She always was. And in that moment, when I should’ve felt like drowning, I embraced her and felt her lean into me, her frail body, weak from fighting for so long, that’s when I truly understood God’s plan. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing all along. I was physically and mentally preparing for our last moment together. All this time, God was simply granting me the tools to be strong, mentally and physically for our last moment together, and for every moment thereafter; He had been preparing me for this moment for a long, long time. And in that moment, it was Him who allowed me to hold her up; to be strong for her in that moment when she was at her weakest.

She died 4 days later. The following day, my mind kind of in a fog, I escaped to the park for a cardio circuit, Small golden butterflies floated around me, and I just knew it was a sign of the beginning of a transformation.

I knew it was a sign from her.

Are You Just Going To Give Up?

We all have the opportunity to just give up. Quit. Just walk away.

Insecurity pools in the pit of our stomach, regret breeds off of our every breath, panic spooks our hearts and fire burns in through our eyes deep within our souls.

We quit. We feel bad. We can’t stop thinking about it. It was at one point a moment; an experience that you gave life to even if you didn’t see it through. You gave it purpose and then just let it go.

Once you give up, you dismiss a piece of yourself and most likely will belittle yourself every single day after that.

Simply put: It will forever change you.

Giving up is easy, especially when you have nothing to lose.

Or so you think…

Because you always forget the most important piece that risks becoming lost: You.

Remember when the vision first sparked in your mind? There had to have been a reason why you started. You felt the passion and drive; the fire burning deep within your heart, each beat racing to create the vision you had woven in your mind some time ago.

If you’re anything like me, you probably pull that steel armor over you and protect yourself from the world when the reality speaks for itself; the pain and threat is buried inside of you.

But you wear that steel well. Your body clings to it naturally. You think that if you don’t take a risk; if you don’t pursue anything, you’ll just stand still for a little while and the feeling will go away, the pain might disappear and you can go back to “normal”.

Because that’s what you believe, isn’t it?

What happens if you are never given the option to quit?

Two facts that I know are true:

  1. When we have the option to quit, failing becomes that much scarier and unspeakable.
  1. When we give up our chance to fail, we give up our chance to grow and move onto something bigger, better and quite possibly happier. (corny but hey, we can either blossom into a flower or transform into a weed)

Which one are you going to choose for today?

Is Fear Suffocating You?

Be okay with who you are and what you see in the mirror. Your imperfections are only seen by you and no one else…

You’re pushed up against the wall. The grip around your neck is getting tighter and tighter. You want to move your arms, your legs, something, anything to remind you that you’re alive; that you got this. You got this.

You’re trying to make yourself fit a mold that doesn’t belong to you; doesn’t exist into your realm of desire; a vision you have falsely envisioned. Created. It’s a fallacy; you feel drugged, poisoned, toxic. How do you stop the suffering? Simple. Stop thinking of it as suffering. It’s a chance for you to start over; to share your experience and witness determination and your will to succeed. You will make it because you ache; something is missing and you won’t be able to let go so easily this time. You’re alive. You got this.

Why are you allowing FEAR to establish control? What has it done to you to become so powerful? What happened to you? What happened that has made you so willing to praise FEAR and hand over your entire being so that you can continue to worship it. Every night you lay awake, does it come to you? Does it reveal the face it hides behind the mask it wears to control you? And you are under its spell….

Laugh in its face. Don’t be afraid to embrace fear as part of the process. You’re alive. Fear doesn’t have to be.

Remember, You got this.

 When you make a mental transformation, you also make a physical transformation. And slowly, you grow, right in front of your eyes. Right in front of the mirror.

Your physical transformation will challenge you mentally and vice versa. It’ll call on fear to come and “rescue you” but you’ll remember that piercing pain that gripped your neck and you’ll remember that, you’re alive. You got this.

When you make the decision to let go of fear, it’ll still haunt you. It’ll tempt you and plead with you daily to come back; to serve once again. Remind yourself that it’s a process; the transformation you make mentally is an ongoing process, there is no finalization, no dotted line to sign, it’s constantly evolving, overcoming, processing, capturing, it’s telling you and reminding you that you’re alive. It’s telling you that you got this….

Mentally AND Physically.

You got this.