January 31st is IndiesForward day – a special blogging event dedicated to spreading the legacy of Julie Forward DeMay and her touching memoir, The Cell War Notebooks.
What would you do when faced with a battle for your life? Author, photographer and creative spirit Julie Forward DeMay took on her fight with cervical cancer like she was playing for the new high score in her favorite video game, Asteroids. Inspiring, witty, beautiful and brutally honest, The Cell War Notebooks is a compilation of the blog Julie kept during the last seven months of her life. It’s a powerful read for anyone, whether your life has been touched by cancer or not. Check out the paperback on Amazon and keep up with the latest news on Facebook. All proceeds from book sales go to Julie’s nine year-old daughter Luka.
The Cell War Notebooks on Amazon: http://amzn.to/W17WN4 (This is NOT an affiliate link)
The Cell War Notebooks on Facebook: http://facebook.com/cellwarnotebooks
Julie’s Original Blog: http://cellwarnotebooks.blogspot.com
Duolit’s IndiesForward Page: http://selfpublishingteam.com/indiesforward
I haven't read The Cell War Notebooks yet, but I have ordered it from Amazon, and will post a review of it over at Quiet Publications soon.
Those of us participating in Indies Forward have been asked to write about an obstacle we've overcome, how cancer has touched our lives, or something that gives us inspiration to push forward every day.
Cancer is a nightmare that hasn't touched me directly, and I can only imagine what it must be like to find the strength to battle it day in and day out. A battle I am familiar with, however, is depression. I know what it feels like to not be able to get out of bed in the morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. I know what it's like to think about everything that is waiting for me out in the world--both the good and the bad--and realize that I have no desire to do any of it.
This isn't my life every day; I have periods of days or weeks (though usually not months) when I'm doing pretty well. And then I have periods of days or weeks (and on a few horrible occasions, months) when every day is a struggle. But I no longer allow myself to just lie in bed all day when I'm gripped with a deep depression.
I'd like to tell you my secret is something amazing, courageous, triumphant, etc. But it really boils down to duty.
Duty and obligation.
Duty and obligation that are born out of love.
I am married to a wonderful man, and we have two wonderful children. I'm also a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom, and my husband and I have divvied up our responsibilities along fairly (though not rigidly) traditional lines. As the sole breadwinner my husband simply has to work every day. Which means I have to get out of bed and take care of our three-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. Whether I want to or not.
What gets me out of bed is knowing that I am the Mom. This is my job. And the kids will suffer if I don't do my job. And this consequence to them resonates with me, because I was raised by a Mom who often didn't do her job because of depression. I'm still living with those consequences decades later, and I do not want to burden my kids in the same way.
When I'm in a deep depression, I can't feel love. I can't feel joy at their antics. I don't even feel frustration when they get into trouble. I'm just empty. So trying to remember how much I love them is ineffective as a motivator, because depression prevents me from feeling that love. But duty and obligation don't require me to feel anything. I just have to do it. And if things need to get done, then I can make myself do them.
I'm not up to my usual standards at those times, but as an incurable perfectionist I rarely am anyway. I see what needs to get done and I do it, no feelings required, no feelings present.
Or are they?
In 2006 I had a six month period when I could barely get off the couch. (Did you know that it takes less than twenty-four hours to watch an entire season of 24? It's true!) Getting to the grocery store was a major accomplishment. There were a lot of things I needed to get done then, but frequently didn't. I wasn't married, and I didn't have kids.
The periods of depression I have now are no less severe (2010 was a particularly rough year), but I manage to do the things that need doing. Why? Because my husband and my kids need me to. And even though I may not be able to access my feelings of love for them, that love is what compels me to get up and get busy. That love is what inspires my sense of duty and obligation. If I didn't love them, then I wouldn't care about their suffering for my inaction any more than I'd care about my own (which is very little). But depression can only block me from feeling love; it doesn't stop me from having it.
I hope I never have to face a diagnosis of cancer and fight the battle that Julie Forward DeMay had to fight. But if I ever do, I trust that the love I have for my family would inspire the sense of duty and obligation necessary to fight it with everything I have, and that would be a gift to them, regardless of the outcome.