So… not the greatest week. On Thursday, my cancer bestie passed away. She has been living with stage 4 cancer for around 5 years, so it was pretty exhausting. We had talked about death together plenty of times. It doesn’t matter if you are expecting it or if it happens suddenly. The people you leave behind still have the same amount of grief. I can’t imagine how awful it must have been to continue to push forward day after day with this painful, exhausting disease. She was so powerful, strong, and stubborn.
We because friends because we met at a cancer camp, but stayed friends for any other normal reasons for friendship. It wasn’t about the cancer. It was about laughing, adventuring, and connecting. On several occasions, she told me our relationship was somehow different than just regular friends. We would have a blast together, get annoyed by each other, be really honest with each other, and even got into a fight that resulted in a small break in communication for a few months. We both knew it would pass, and of course it did.
The adventures we went on included, surfing, paddle boarding, white water rafting, camping, skydiving, and a forever reminder…getting tattoos. We taught each other our favorite crafts, exchanged silly gifts, brought in 2017 new years, ate Mexican food, told our life stories, and connected deeply. Once we figured out that we could just communicate by sending GIFs, Bitmojis, emojis, silly videos and pictures, that became the norm. Becky’s love for animals was so so huge. I would send her animal stuff and anything we thought was funny. On several occasions, my phone would ding 20 times in a row indicating that I was receiving messages. It got to the point that words were not too necessary and we could “get” each other just with these little exchanges.
When you meet someone with advanced cancer, you are pretty sure of how they will die. You just have no idea when. It is different when you know it is going to happen. We have been friends for 2.5 years and I knew the whole time. Neither of us knew when. We cherished all of our times together and always made plans for the next time. Neither of us were afraid to do that. I like to think I consider all of my good friends as gifts I could lose at any moment. I truly believe that I cherish most of the moments I have with the people with whom I am close. I never forget to hug tight, say I love you, and remind them of how great it is to have them in my life. That is just who I am. I know part of that comes from losing my brother at such an early age. I feel so lucky to have that perspective. No mater how hard life can be, I don’t have any regret or fear that people will not know how much I love them.
My life is Beautiful
It is Strange and Unpredictable
It is Colorful and Creative
There is Laughter and Love
I travel places Far and Near
I am Sensitive
I Experience New People
I have to Be Brave
Things are Fluid and Stuck
I live with Illness – Some Chronic, some just visiting
Music Demands that I Dance
I wear Costumes
I value Communication
My world is a Musical
Learning is SO Awesome
My family Cares Deeply for Each Other
I get Angry
Sadness Overwhelms me
I am Strong
My Heart could Explode
This Life Is Mine
Ok, Readers…I invite you to take some time to reflect on your own life and what is true for you.
The best way I get through life is to be prepared. I have a plan in place for times when I need to address my bigger feelings such as sadness, anger, loneliness, hurt, disappointment, fear, nervousness, excitement, love, inspiration, hope, and anticipation. When you read through that list, you may not have been expecting “positive” feelings. In my life, my emotions can be very big and magnified. I have learned to accept this because it is hard to change who I am and I don’t think I necessarily have to.
Because my emotions arrive somewhat like a tidal wave, I have discovered they aren’t going to magically go away and I have to find ways to feel calm and safe when they rush in. Even my excitement and motivation come with a strong force. People who know me have most likely seen the wave pretty quickly. I sometimes feel apologetic. Really, I want to apologize to myself for the discomfort.
Instead of getting into the big cycle of judgement, blame, or embarrassment, I have learned that I have to feel my emotions, AND I have the choice to handle them however I want. The way I do this is to accept my discomfort and use my VERY LONG list of coping skills. Coping skills don’t have to be this big ordeal. They can simply be a distraction. Sometimes, they are very productive. Many times, the first thing I try isn’t the thing that works. At times, I have to try and combine multiple things in hopes for a good outcome.
My top coping skills are:
- Calling my friends and family to ask for help
- Walking around the lake
- Doing laundry
- Going to the movies
- Working out at the pool
- Making crafts
- Going out to eat
- Talking to my therapist
- Scrolling through Facebook
- Leaving my house
- Getting a pedicure
- Using essential oils
- Looking through my pictures
- Using grounding techniques like tapping, meditation, and observing things around me
- Spending time being silly with my Best Friend/Roommate, Rob
Those are just a few of my many. I found this list of 99 coping skills if you are interested in creating your own list and need inspiration. These skills are good to have handy in your mind because we all need them at some point or another. There does not even have to be a big event or feeling to use them. For the most part, we are all coping with simply being alive.
I have been having a really hard time with my depression this weekend. Yesterday, I wrote a whole post about it. It was terrible, depressing, and just not something to share. So, I thought I would tell you about my friend, Drew. I have known Drew since I had just turned 17. We have had many adventures together; we toured around the world, vacationed in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Colorado, Montana, Arizona and maybe some places I forget. We have walked miles and miles in Detroit dragging suitcases just so we didn’t have to pay for transportation to a wedding. He pushed me around Disney World in a wheelchair. We even stood in line for almost a whole day in the blazing heat so we could see Barack Obama speak at the DNC in Denver.
There have been months where we didn’t talk and years when we didn’t see each other. That really has never had any impact on how much we start to laugh the moment we see each other. In fact, Drew makes me feel like I might be the funniest person he has ever met! We have shared some heartbreaking moments as well. Most recently, Drew’s mother was being treated for cancer at the same time I was. Talk about a difficult time for him (Thank God both of us got through it and are both healthy now.)
One thing Drew has always understood is my depression. Every once in a while, he REALLY gets it. The last time he was here, I showed him my magical sleep set-up:
The first thing he said was, “OMG! I bet this makes you so happy!” He understood that my environment was really important. He even went home and made a few improvements himself!
Back to the real reason I started talking about Drew. One time, he knew I was really depressed, so he sent me a magical cartoon that explained someone else’s experience with depression. He was spot on, and I knew he really got how I was feeling. This cartoon came to mind yesterday when I was feeling like nothing was going to help. I tried to look it up and found something better! These videos are from the blog: Hyperbole and a Half
I am attaching 2 videos about depression from this author because they help describe what I go through. If you are looking for something that will make you laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh, check them out!
I hope this helps someone!