lymphielifeToday is #WorldHealthDay, and this year @who is leading a global campaign on depression. This is important for us lymphies, so get ready: lengthy post ahead! ⚠️
In managing & treating our physical health, we have to be mindful not to neglect our emotional + mental health in the process. Many of us are no strangers to depression and anxiety, and living with lymphedema can sometimes exacerbate those feelings tenfold. I know because they did for me.
I've struggled with depression and anxiety for over a decade, as well as eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and substance abuse. I felt completely out of control of myself, like I didn't even know who I was. My lymphedema was a big part of all that -- or, rather, how I was REACTING to my lymphedema. I was resentful towards my lymphie leg and blamed it for what I was going through; I made it my emotional scapegoat. In that resentment I stopped keeping up with my treatments, which, of course, made the swelling worse... which made my depression and body image worse... A vicious cycle that seemed impossible to break out of.
After years of intensive work, difficult honesty, and a lot of ups and downs, I've gotten clarity and, most importantly, I've gotten my sense of self back. I'm able to treat my leg with love and care, and am compliant with my treatment routine so that my swelling is managed. What seemed to save me was reaching for help when I needed it, and another was art. I loved art therapy, and found it to be a fantastic way to process my emotions and feelings. (The pictures above are of an altered book I made about five years ago, using handouts from therapy and cutouts from old magazines.)
Art is just one of many options, though: you can talk to a loved one, you can write, you can go on a walk, you can pet your cat, you can meditate... Whatever it takes for you to process what you're experiencing and ground yourself. There's no shame in the struggle. If anything, it's empowering -- a sign of life -- so keep fighting.
If you're experiencing feelings of hopelessness or depression, seek someone out. Talk. Share. Listen. You are not alone.
▪️We lymphies are not alone. 💙
- lymphielife#lymphedema #lymphoedema #linfedema #lymphoedème #lymphödem #lymfoedeem #lymfödem #lymphie #lymphielife #lymphlife #arttherapy #depression #anxiety #bodyimage #endthestigma #alteredbook #bookart #collage #chronicillness
- verrs1Thank you
- lymphielife@verrs1 💙
- the_frenchie_lymphieYour testimony is so touching. I cried so much and sometimes. But after three years without sport, I recover slowly to make and it allows me to reconnect with my lymphie leg and no longer consider it as out of me
- allysonrh6You are always touching my heart ❤️ thanks for you constant authenticity and courage to share your story
- lymphielife@the_frenchie_lymphie Sports and being active are a great way to re-acquaint ourselves with our bodies! You're right - it can take a while to reach a place of acceptance and self-love. But when we are able to be compassionate with ourselves... that is when the real healing begins! Thank you for sharing your story 💙
- lymphielife@allysonrh6 omg Allyson 😭 thanks chicky, that means so much to hear from you! The same can be said to you - your journey has been incredible to watch over the years 💙
- 50stitchesGot my lymphie leg when I was cursed with #skincancer in 1993............No support around at the time so never knew about how to manage it well....sent home from the hospital and told to keep leg elevated at all times....How does one do that with a 4year old and a 1year old......And as the years went by, my leg worsened (and grew, and ached) and I had to fight bouts of cellulitis, in and out of the hospital........Depression and anxiety comes along with this, but you just keep movin' movin' until one day your leg feels like it weighs more than your entire body.....But finally in 2014, 21 years later, someone set me up with a lympodema nurse...after being bandaged to death over and over, I am becoming me again!!!!....yes, find something you like to do that keeps your soul grounded and lessens the desire to chop the leg off altogether!
- cristina_s_c_You're so brave sharing this with us...To be honest, my limphie leg embarrased me and I hide it pretending it doesn't exist. I'm working a lot in swimming pool for my lymphie leg getting better and I hope one day feel comfortable with this situation. Thank you so much for your posts, you inspire me a lot!
- lymphielife@50stitches wow -- what a testament to the lymphie spirit!! I'm sorry to hear you had to suffer for so long without proper treatment, but it seems like you've gotten a positive attitude and perspective out of it, and that's kind of beautiful in itself. It's like that quote: "without the darkness, we can't really appreciate the light." Congrats on becoming you again -- I hope you continue to keep your soul grounded (and don't chop off that leg!!!!) 😅💙
- nourishedlymphSo beautiful! Thank you for your bravery in sharing this. You are so right about the emotional side of lymphedema. That's amazing that you found an avenue or outlet that helped you rise up out of your dark place to reach a place of compassion and acceptance. Your posts inspire me so much. I really love reading them and hope we can meet in person one day
- lymphielife@cristina_s_c_ thank you so much for your kind words, and for sharing some of your experience too! Continue being gentle with yourself, and you'll get to a place of comfort and acceptance soon. It sounds like you're already doing some great work -- the pool is excellent for lymphedema, not just for exercise but for building confidence, too! In the words of a famous fishie: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." 🐠💙
- lymphielife@nourishedlymph thank you for your kind words, Amy! It's so important to have an outlet or passion -- like you have with your apothecary! 🌱 It provides such a sense of purpose and grounds us in something outside ourselves... without art or writing I don't know what I would do, or where I would be! Thank you again for your readership and your encouraging words... it truly means a lot to me. I hope we can meet someday, too!! 🤗💙
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