It Takes a Village

I’ve said it before, and probably will continue to say it a lot….Many of us struggle in all aspects of our life, especially when we are injured, sick or depressed and are not able to get out and do the things we want to do. It takes a village to help us through.

When I received my diagnosis in 2003 of Ankylosing Spondylitis, and then Lupus, my first thought was, what the **** is that, and why me?! I’m sure so many have said the same thing with any diagnosis they have received. What is important is what do you do with that news, what is next? Many fall into depression, often severe and they just can’t seem to get out of it. Others, thrive in a way many of us wish we could. They look the diagnosis in the face and say, not today, you will not get me. I honestly, didn’t know what to do because I didn’t understand any of it. No one in my family, that I knew of at the time had anything like that. And it didn’t end there, from 2003 to 2009 I was diagnosed with multiple auto-immune conditions. I considered myself pretty healthy and active, so what was I doing wrong? My family wasn’t sure what to do with it either. The more I talked about, the more I tried to describe how I was feeling or why I couldn’t do something, especially my daughter, they had a hard time hearing it, and many times didn’t want to hear it, because it sounded like excuses. Those famous words ~ but you don’t look sick. Honestly, please don’t ever say that to anyone with a hidden disease ~ autoimmune, cancer, depression, PTSD, anything. It is a gut-wrenching painful thing to say to someone. You have no idea the internal struggle that is faced.

As I read more about what my conditions were and what could be potential causes, as I listened to the doctor’s about treatments, I continued to question, why me. This isn’t my life. As I lay curled up in a ball most of the time feeling sorry for myself, I had that ah-ha moment while my daughter watched me struggle. Nope, this is not how my life is supposed to be. This is not what my daughter is going to think her life is going to be. I found a new doctor that would listen to ME, helped me on the path I wanted to follow and I was on the road to a new “normal” life. I changed my diet and began walking more – just keep moving. The more I moved the better I felt. My family and friends were my village, my support system cheering me on every step of the way, and they continue to do so. I am forever grateful for them. Eventually I started running and from 2010 to now, I’ve run numerous races including four full marathons. Currently, I am training to complete my first ultra marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days, but I learned how to handle them better and how to help feel better both physically and emotionally. Even if people don’t want to hear it, I verbalize it. I share my story in the hopes it can help even one person handle what they are going through.

It’s not easy for those not experiencing what you are experiencing to understand. We try to educate them however it is hard for them to grasp. More and more though conditions such as depression, PTSD, addiction, etc are being brought to light so that family members and friends can learn to understand and find ways to help you through the darkest days. It should no longer be shameful or be kept a secret. Embrace it, understand it and just be kind for you do not know what others are going through. Just keep moving.

It truly does take a village. Whether you are an injured runner and you are down, frustrated or depressed because you are not out doing the things you want to do, you can form a group such as my running group, S.W.I.F.T. (www.swift4running.com) did. They basically created an injured reserved meet-up where those unable to run or walk at the time can meet with others and just get out of the house for coffee or a drink and socialize, boost the mood and provide support.

When an individual and their families are depressed and struggling to pay their bills due to cancer treatments and depression, it takes a village to help them through this process. There is an organization in Philadelphia, Legacy of Hope, that does just that. https://www.legacyofhope.life/ “Because we believe no family should lose their home or go without food because a loved one is fighting cancer and no promising cancer research should go unfunded.”

Life throws us a curve, all the time. It redirects when we least expect it. We allow it to suck the energy and sometimes the life out of us. It becomes toxic. We get lost and our life spirals out of control and we just don’t know how to get out of it. We find others in the same or similar situations and together, you unfortunately become toxic. We convince ourselves that we can’t. You can’t because you won’t. I know that sounds harsh, but you can, if you just try, one step at a time. It won’t happen overnight. But if you continue to allow yourself to stay stuck, to settle that this is how your life is supposed to be, you will remain stuck. You have a choice. You can say to everyone that is trying to or has tried to help you, that they can’t help you, that life sucks and there is no way out. You have a choice to at least try, to tell yourself one positive thing each day, or in each moment that you are struggling. I truly believe a positive mind leads to a positive life. Life can be unfair and shitty, but you don’t have to allow it to win because you will miss so many amazing moments that are wonderful. Remove the toxic self defeating language and feelings. Do me a favor, just keep moving. Find your village, even if it’s just one person. Because whatever your pace is, forward IS a pace. Others believe in you, just believe in yourself.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!
Carol

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