Strength in Mindfulness and Vulnerability

Strength in Mindfulness and Vulnerability

Welcome to another end of the week!

Last weekend, I had the privilege of going on a couple’s retreat with my boyfriend, hosted by the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. It was all about reconnecting with your loved one and focusing on communication — not only with your partner, but also with others in your life. It also was about learning how to face your fears and cope with stress.

My boyfriend Eric and me at the Brain Tumour walk on May 27. (Courtesy of Catarina Louro-Matos)

I left the retreat early on Sunday and walked in the Brain Tumour Walk in Hamilton, Ontario, in memory of those we have lost, those still fighting, and those who have survived. But today, I’d like to focus on the retreat and what I’ve learned.

The retreat was held in Caledon, Ontario, at a beautiful inn and spa. Needless to say, it was one of the most relaxing weekends I have had in a very long time. I am so incredibly grateful to the foundation for starting off these retreats for the first time ever and having me come along for the ride.

At the retreat, I met 14 other brain tumor survivors, and they were such amazing people. Spending time with them last weekend opened my eyes and inspired the post you are reading today.

Being in the moment and enjoying a waterfall created by a small dam at the inn and spa. (Courtesy of Catarina Louro-Matos)

I understand that Cushing’s disease doesn’t always come about because of a brain tumor. But the realizations I had are relevant to most people fighting a disease. All of these realizations deal with your support system and the people around you. If you are dealing with certain people day in and day out, you’ll need to find ways to communicate and cope. Dealing with others during illness or recovery is never simple.

One of the biggest lessons that we can all learn when suffering from Cushing’s, or recovering from it, is to be in the present — to be mindful of the current moment we are in. I know that a lot of people say this, and to some, it sounds “impossible.” But it’s possible and very important. Being in the present is something I practiced before I had a diagnosis, and looking back at it, even though I was incredibly sick and only getting worse, that is when my soul was most at ease. I took each day hour-by-hour, focused only on the task I was doing at any given moment, and got through my days that way.

View from the bridge at the inn and spa. (Courtesy of Catarina Louro-Matos)

Somewhere along the way during recovery, I lost that. Being in the moment this weekend with myself, my boyfriend, all the survivors and their loved ones, the psychologists, and the foundation’s staff really reminded me to find mindfulness again and practice being present in the moment.

Another thing I learned during this retreat is the power of vulnerability. Now, that does not mean going and blurting out every single last detail of your life or your dark secrets. For us, it means being honest with others about our disease and recovery. If you’re not feeling OK, tell people you’re not feeling OK. If someone says something incredibly rude and ignorant to you about your disease or looks, you have every right to speak up and educate them about the facts of Cushing’s. If you have to cry because someone made you upset, cry.

Peaceful scenery. (Courtesy of Catarina Louro-Matos)

Do not hold back the tears. Do not hold back your emotions. Be raw, honest, and open about what you are going through. People will not understand physically and mentally what you are going through, but they will definitely have a better understanding that they themselves need to be more open-minded. There truly is power in vulnerability. It takes strength, and vulnerability is a true sign of it.

Of the many lessons learned last weekend, those two were the ones that resonated the most with me. Focusing on life in the current moment and being honest and open about your struggles are incredibly powerful when it comes to dealing with illness and recovery. Practicing that strength within yourself helps your brain function, mood, and attitude.

If you have a way of coping with your illness daily, drop a line in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

Until next week,

XOXO, Catarina

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Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s disease.

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