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Note To Self

Today I am having a bad day.

Waking up is hard- I do my absolute best to choose the day ahead of me but being completely transparent, sometimes I let the day choose me. I let the depression win, I let the anxiety take over, and I decide to surrender to all the pain that is, mental illness.

Then, the guilt sets in. Which for me, is the worst part- I feel guilty for feeling my mental illness, like it’s not a real illness. I think this guilt stems from being surrounded by a physical illness like cancer for a portion of my life. I have this lie in my head that I tell myself, “You’re not really sick unless the blood test shows you that you are.” It is a lie I’ve convinced myself of and even as I type it I know it sounds ridiculous. But for so long I had convinced myself that Cooper’s cancer was of more importance than my mental health would ever be. That because it was cancer, I could never compete unless I too, had cancer. No illness, especially no mental illness, was of enough importance to admit it was a problem.
I know where this lie stems from, it stems from a long line of feeling like if it wasn’t cancer it wasn’t a big enough problem to address. See, when you’re a sibling of someone with cancer, someone dying of cancer. You make your problems small. You convince yourself that your problems are not as big as cancer so they do not matter.
The problem with this is, you cannot undo the mess you’ve create in your mind- it follows you.
So now, years after cancer has left my life and Cooper has left this world- I still believe my illness is not valid. I still have to convince myself that if I am having an off day I can rest my mind and my heart.

But let me tell you what cancer and mental illness have in common.
They can both kill you.

So I am writing this, a note to myself, that just like cancer feasting at the bodies every healthy cell, my mental illness is doing the same thing.
And if ignored, my mental illness will take hold of every healthy cell, and kill it off just like cancer.
Cancer and mental illness are not far off from each other.
It’s just how you choose to look at it.

Maybe today you too need to be reminded that whatever you’re dealing with is just as important as cancer, or a heart attack, or a paper cut. Do not weigh YOUR struggles against someone else’s. Everyone is hurting, everyone is struggling, whether physical or mental, illness is real.

If I could go back and tell Kassidy something in January of 2013, a few short weeks before Cooper would be diagnosed with cancer, I would tell her two things.
Never feel guilty for what you’re feeling- mental or physical.
Your pain is important.

Even though we can’t go back, we can go forward.
I can tell Kassidy today and Kassidy tomorrow those same words.
I can work through the guilt of feeling like my illness is not enough compared to others.
And maybe you need to work through that guilt too. Whether you’re a cancer sibling or a mom who puts her child’s needs before her own.
We all struggle with this, so lets say it together…

“Never feel guilty for what you’re feeling- mental or physical.
Your pain is important”

To My Gracious & Grateful Community,
I want to remind you-
You are loved.
You are enough.
You are important.
You are needed.
Tomorrow needs you.

xoxo,
Kassidy

Survivor

“If your path is more difficult it’s because your calling is higher.” – @edmylett

It’s no secret that most wise people have the most traumatic pasts. They have fought long battles and probably lost most of them. They are also the most interesting people you will meet because they have gone through hardships.

But those people are also the ones fighting the hardest to live out each and every day. They are the ones escaping the wrath of suicide, depression, anxiety, negative thinking, and everything else that comes with trauma.

Lately I’ve been escaping those demons, barely getting away from the hands of my past. It’s easy to slip back into sadness, and unfortunately more difficult to choose happiness. I think it is because we long to be where we were before the trauma happened, before the loved ones died, we want to reverse time. I try every day to not live in the past, to consume my present and try to be the best version of me- I hear people say that “you can’t grow by living in the past” – but sometimes the past is just too hard to leave behind.

Post traumatic stress disorder is interesting, and for me, I find it is the hardest mental illness to overcome. Sometimes I find myself in the daze of a flashback and usually I do not want to return to my reality, I want to stay in the flashback where I know what is going to happen next. See, if I am having a flashback of me at the Route 91 concert, I know the next scene includes raining bullets. But if I go back to the present- its unpredictable, my mind is unsure of what is going to happen next.
Flashbacks make me comfortable, I’m in control- because it’s a scene of the story that has already happened.

Lately, I have been scared of my present and my future.
I have been obsessed with control.
And the only thing my brain believes to be in control over is the past.
So I’ve decided to write a letter from past Kassidy to present Kassidy.
I hope if you’ve been through something traumatic it resonates with you.

Dear 2019 Kassidy,

You’re missing out. Life is flying by and you’re sitting in a hospital room that is no longer yours to be in, walking halls that no longer exist.
You’re running from bullets that have already landed.
You couldn’t control the bullets, the cancer, or the pain- so what makes you think you will be able to control today? tomorrow? or next week?
You’re trying to put together a puzzle with pieces that don’t yet exist.
You’re losing your life all while trying to control it.
As you know, tomorrow is not in your hands.
You are not in the drivers seat.

So why don’t you sit back? Why don’t you do only what you can do in this day? Why don’t you rest, relax, and realize that you do not need to control what happens next, control is not the role God gave you on this earth.
I know you’re trying, I know you’re doing your best.
But remember that you don’t always have to be the best, you can just do your best.
Doing your best looks a lot different than being your best.
Just do what you can with what has been given to you today, not what was given to you 4 years ago, and definitely not what you think will be given to you 10 years from now.
Today is your only obstacle, what will you do with it?
You will survive.

You’ve got this.

Love,

Kassidy from 2013

I’d like to say writing this letter solves my PTSD. I’d like to say it cures it, helps me live in the moment that is today. But the illness doesn’t work like that- I have to remind myself of this letter every day. I have to choose now, 2019, over 2013, or 2017, or 2020. I have to decide to put my effort into today- and that’s harder than you think.

This post is dedicated to all who suffer from PTSD- from soldiers, to mothers, to fathers, to siblings, to you who’ve been through the worst of the worst.
You are not alone, your feelings are real, your flashbacks may haunt you but it’s only because you are called for a higher purpose.