In May we celebrate many things. Mothers. Cinco de Mayo. Memorial Day. The arrival of new growth and warmer days. We also celebrate both CF awareness and mental health awareness - which very often go side by side.
We struggle all our lives to take care of our lungs and digestive systems, our livers and our kidneys. Our brains and mental struggles though are often overlooked. We have so much already on our plates it’s easy to forget how important our mental health is too.
So, in a month where we spread awareness for our cystic fibrosis, it’s a great time to check in on our mental health too.
The mental burden of CF
The weight of cystic fibrosis is exhausting both physically and mentally. There are so many unknowns, so many losses and sacrifices, so much mental burden. It only makes sense that depression becomes more and more common as CF progresses. Some of us struggle more than others, but there is nothing easy for any of us living a life with cystic fibrosis.
It took me many years to realize that not taking mental health days, participating in self care, and even pursuing therapy could sometimes be as detrimental to my health as not doing my breathing treatments or taking my many medications.
So, in this month dedicated to both our cystic fibrosis warriors and our mental health warriors let us all make sure we are taking care of both. Find the things that bring you happiness and makes sure to set aside time for it. For me it’s always been writing. Some days though it’s a warm bath and other days a good workout. Sometimes what I need varies.
No perfect formula for mental health
It’s also important to find people you can reach out to when life gets too heavy. Also, understand it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to not have all the answers, to feel overwhelmed.
Cut yourself the same slack you would give to someone else reaching out to you. You wouldn’t judge a best friend who is struggling. So, treat yourself as a best friend or loved one. Be graceful with yourself.
There are many ways to try to look after your mental health and no one perfect formula.
You find what works for you and pursue it at your pace. Talking about your feelings, trying to keep active, eating and drinking well, asking for help, doing things that you’re good at or make you happy, and taking a break when needed are all great things to work on to ease your mental load.
Reach out to your CF team when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Reach out to other cystic fibrosis patients or caregivers.
You are not alone
Understand it’s okay to say “No” to things that make you feel bad. Credit yourself for your strengths. Quiet your mind by finding a quiet place you can retreat to and just take some deep breaths. Set realistic goals for yourself. Try not to focus on the past or future. Taking one moment at a time will most often times cut back on your anxiety.
Above all understand you are not alone. You have a whole team of people here who understand the depth of your struggles. We may have a lot on our plates, but we also have a table full of people we can reach out to.
Have you taken our Cystic Fibrosis In America Survey yet?