COPING AND BACK TO LIVING

When you go through a serious illness like breast cancer, the normal routine of living is disrupted. For a time the world around you keeps going, but you stop. You stop living your normal life. Instead your focus changes from working, maintaining a social life, housekeeping, and so on to self-care, coping, healing, and surviving. Once you are healed, it’s hard to ease back into just living.

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I’ve been off work since July 17 and I’m finally easing back to work. I’m starting with a couple of days of work and using some vacation days. Before going back to work, I started worrying. I have scoliosis and being laid up messed my back up. I’ve been seeing the chiropractor to try and straighten it out, but I still hurt. How am I supposed to work if I’m hurting? Will people look at me differently without breasts? Am I up to standing for six hours with a fifteen minute break? Will my customers ask questions? Am I emotionally and physically up to working?

While I’ve been off work I put everything on hold and focused on myself and my healing process. My house is a mess, my laundry is piled up, I haven’t edited my memoir in a while, and my social life has mostly been going for rides with my husband and going to doctor appointments. My husband has focused himself on taking care of me. He has done a really good job, but now we have to get back to living our normal life. This isn’t easy to do when I know that within a month and a half I’ll be out for another surgery.

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How do I get back to living again? For a few weeks I’ve felt like I’m in a rut. I’m still trying to cope with what I have been through and all my attempts to move forward have failed. I made a goal to edit my memoir, but I couldn’t concentrate enough to keep to it. I planned on cleaning up around my house, but for some reason I couldn’t get motivated enough to do it. I’ve been stuck on Netflix. I’ve finished several seasons of shows and watched lots of movies.

I had to sit down and think. I listed my symptoms to see if I was suffering from depression. I’ve been through depression and I know the symptoms well. I’m not sad, I don’t feel hopeless, I want to live for many years, I’m not sleeping a lot, and I still have interest and pleasure in doing things. I went to the fair with a friend and a movie with another friend and had fun. So what’s my problem? Why is getting back into my normal routine so hard?

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A friend told me, “You’re expecting too much from yourself. You have been through a lot. Give yourself a break and take it one step at a time.”

I thought about what she said and she’s right. I’m still coping with all I have gone through and I still have one more surgery in November. I can’t rush things. I will get back to living one day at a time, but it is still important that I continue to practice self-care. Cancer turned my life upside down and it takes time to get it the right side up again. First step is slowly getting back to work and the next steps will follow. In time my house will be clean again, I’ll be doing more than watching TV, and I will get back to my memoir, but I can’t rush it.

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You can’t go through cancer and not be affected in some way emotionally. I’m not in a depression, but I have dealt with some depression. I have my good days and bad days. I know I am stronger because of what I have been through and I will remain strong. My psychiatrist asked if I needed individual therapy, but I have lots of support from friends, family and the Linked by Pink cancer support group. So I told him I am fine without therapy.

So if you went through breast cancer and are trying to get back into a normal routine, don’t push yourself. Take each day step by step. Give yourself a break; you have been through a lot. You’ll get back to living again when you’re ready.

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I’m taking steps day by day and soon life will be back to normal. I’m not rushing myself and I’m continuing to practice self-care. I give myself credit for how well I am doing and each day I take a new step the light of recovery shines on me.

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