I saw this post on Instagram the other day. It said “Have you ever just sat and thought fuck, I’ve been through a lot of shit”. It stopped me in my tracks and actually made me laugh to myself because… fuck, I’ve been through a lot of shit.
I’ve done a lot of reflecting this week, since I took the brave step (or more like long jump) back into the working world. I thought I would share my experience because I know it’s relatable to anyone who’s been through anything tragic or life changing.
My office is at the top of a three story building, and I always use to take the stairs because… duh, health. It was the obvious choice; I was always thinking that way. But when I pulled into the lot, I was struck with panic… three flights – can I even do that? It seems like such a small thing to worry about but it really affected me. I sat in my car giving myself the best pep talk I could (for the stairs AND for this huge change ahead of me), and sucked it up.
The truth is, I feel really good. It’s almost to the point where besides for physical changes: hair, scars, lack of muscle tone (I’m kidding, kind of) – no one would know I was a cancer survivor. No one would know that for eight months last year I fought every day, just to make it to the next day.
I didn’t get to this point easily. No, I worked my butt off for it so I have to remind myself of that sometimes when I’m feeling so “normal”. I do have some advice for anyone returning to life, as they knew it, after tragedy.
Oh, and for the record – I huffed and puffed, but I made it up the stairs… every day this week.
Take Your Time
If you are able to, take the time you need to process whatever you’re going through. I started feeling mentally ready to head back to work right around Thanksgiving but we decided as a family to give it a few more weeks and in the end I am so grateful we did. Those few weeks allowed me to grieve my losses a little more properly after the dust of chemo and surgery had settled. I formed new habits to carry into my “old work life” to set myself up for a smooth transition and I really let my body heal.
Remember, even if you have to go back to “reality” before you’re ready, it’s okay to not be functioning at 100% and don’t forget that. You are only human.
Set Expectations For Yourself
This goes without saying but I want to say it anyway. Earlier this week as I sat at my desk jumping right back into projects and it felt SO good knowing that my brain could still do it. Chemo hadn’t won the war with its fog, after all.
I rocked it, I did things like I hadn’t been gone 8 months and I felt proud… then I got home and absolutely crashed. I was exhausted from staring at a screen, from sitting in a chair all day long, and from thinking. I realized then that I was going to have to give myself a break because it was only fair.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself by setting your expectations at a reasonable level. Take breaks, zone out for a few minutes here and there, fill your water bottle and take a quick walk if you need to. It’s okay!
Make Your Space Your Sanctuary
This is one thing that has really helped me the past week. I’ve added small touches to my little corner that help me feel zen, organized, and alive. Whatever makes you most you, do that. For me it’s a diffuser, live plants and a neat workspace.
Don’t forget about Me Time
For months and months I had endless “me” time. I scrolled Instagram, created essential oil blends and binged too many tv shows. It sounds amazing… but honestly it felt pathetic. I know, I know… I was going through chemo and I was doing exactly what my body (and mind) needed to do in those days.
So one week in, and long hours away from the office have me craving a little “me” time again. Each night this week, I’ve made room for it, for my health. I’ve determined 2019 to be the year of self-love. That includes things like exercising (not to be skinny, but to make my body strong enough to handle anything life can throw my way, to take care of my aches and pains, to nourish myself with GOOD food and lay off the junk, to spend time snuggling on the couch with my guys and giving myself a damn break.
After all, I’ve been through so much fucking shit.
I hope if you’re going through something, or are just heading back to “normal” after some hard times, you’re feeling up to it. Don’t forget it’s something you have to work at each day and it does get easier. Support one another and remember your life is about you, but life is not all about you.