“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
It is easy for me to write, communicate when life is going well. But, when life is heavy I find myself not wanting to write or even mutter the simplest of words. It is like I am convinced that the less I talk of troubles, the sooner they will go away, get better. When asked to be a blog speaker, I thought, who would want to read my thoughts?
Life has been hard. I am on a journey of learning: learning to be kind to myself; learning that my journey is not nor will it ever be the same as someone else’s; learning that it is hard to be vulnerable; learning that it is easy to allow myself to feel guilty, shameful that I cannot or do not do all that I used to do.
Cancer came knocking on my door in February 2016. I can remember specifically a few months prior telling my husband how happy I was with life, all aspects of life. Even after being diagnosed with breast cancer, also a genetic mutation of BRCA 1 and my tumor type (triple negative) being highly aggressive, I remained positive. I endured four rounds of chemo, a bilateral mastectomy and a complete hysterectomy. I was the person who smiled, who was there for other women enduring the same diagnosis, working, being an active wife and mother. I truly thought that I would be, if not the same, an even better person because of cancer.
To say I was shocked when both anxiety and depression hit is an understatement. To this day, I am still shocked that anxiety and depression have become my new norm. I am in disbelief that I see both a psychiatrist and a counselor. I am in awe that the woman who endured so much could not finish the school year as a teacher assistant. I am baffled that after ten months of all things cancer that I am not out living life to the fullest.
It is so very easy when someone asks you how you feel, to simply say “I’m good”. Especially, when others tell you how good you look on the outside. I am good, in the sense that I am alive, and as of right now, I am cancer free. But right now, I am a shell of the person I once was. I am not who I want to be, nor do I believe that this is how God wants me to be. So, I patiently wait. I read devotions. I speak to Godly women. I attend a monthly cancer women’s group. I communicate with other women who have had similar side effects from cancer treatment. I cling to hope, even though I cannot feel it.
What I am thankful for is the love of an all-knowing God, the love of my husband, and the support of my church. I am not sure of future goals. I am taking life day-by-day. I am hoping to find my way out of this place. My main priority right now is to be the best mother that I can be to my two boys. Reading with my youngest, helping my oldest with a math project, and celebrating his thirteenth birthday are the accomplishments in which I pride myself.
If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression and you have not sought help, I encourage you to do so. It is hard, I know, but freeing at the same time. I have been told that I will get better, that my body has been through a traumatic experience, and it will take time for both my mind and body to heal.
Each day I think of praiseworthy things, the smell of fresh cut grass, sunsets, hugs from my husband and children, taking my oldest to school, picking up both of my kids from school, Wednesday night church supper, worshipping on Sunday morning.
What are some praiseworthy things in your life?
Peace be with you.
Jennifer Smith is a mom, wife, friend, former mental health professional, teacher, and believer who loves to spend time with her family, nap, read, enjoy dinner out and helping others. She met her husband when she was a sophomore in high school when they both ran track. Along with Jason, the other two loves of her life are Jacob (13) and Jonah (9).