Skip to content
BACK to Stories

The Importance of Giving Yourself Grace

Published on May 22, 2024 in Share Your Story

Guest Author: Karley Z.M. in New York

I’ve learned a lot since my brain tumor diagnosis.

I’ve learned that I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I’ve learned a lot more about the human brain than I ever imagined. I have also learned that I have an amazing support system. Importantly, I’ve also learned a lot about myself.

I also learned that I have to give myself grace. The journey of dealing with a brain tumor is not just dealing with the physical symptoms of painful headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, memory loss, speech issues, falls, etc., but this has been a mental and emotional journey as well.

What the heck does it mean to give myself grace?

You hear this often: “Give yourself grace.”

Grace, in the context of dealing with my diagnosis, means that I am choosing to extend myself kindness, patience, and understanding. I think about how I would treat a friend in a similar situation, and I try to care for myself the same way.

I am stubborn. I don’t like change. And I certainly do not like anyone else being in control of my life. I have had to let go of so much that is familiar. I can plan for things all I want, but I cannot predict how I will feel on any given day. Plans often need to be readjusted. That has been a tough pill to swallow. For me, it has been about acknowledging that I’m doing the best I can and allowing myself to feel the full range of emotions without passing judgment on myself.

There’s been lots of emotional chaos.

My brain tumor diagnosis has triggered a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from shock and anger to sadness and anxiety. Lots of anxiety. Giving myself grace means accepting that my emotions are valid responses to an incredibly challenging situation. Rather than suppressing these feelings, which I can tell you is something I would have done in the past, I acknowledge them. I don’t try to sweep my feelings under the rug.

Navigating Change

I mentioned earlier that I am not a big fan of change. Change is hard. Change is scary. Intimidating. Anxiety inducing.

All of the testing, medications, and neuro consultations have been a bit overwhelming. Do you know that this month is the ONLY month where I have not had medical appointments since that initial appointment at the end of August last year which ultimately led to this diagnosis. It’s been draining. Adjusting to medication side effects, not-so-good days when I feel horrible, good days when I sometimes feel almost like the pre-brain tumor me and do too much, feelings of overwhelming exhaustion — well, it has just been a lot.

Self-grace has meant that I am giving myself the space to learn and adapt, without being angry with myself for not always being upbeat and positive. I do try, though. Once again, I am human.

Accepting My Limitations

This is something I have had a real struggle with. I have worked hard to accept that right now, I have some cognitive limitations as well as limitations that can sometimes prevent me from being 100% me. These limitations can be frustrating, especially when they disrupt my daily routine, plans, and hobbies.

By giving myself grace, I am acknowledging that it’s okay not to be as productive or active as I once was. Accepting these limitations has been key to getting through this experience thus far. Understanding that my worth isn’t solely tied to my productivity or social calendar has alleviated a bit of the pressure I tend to put on myself. If you know me personally, you know that I can be pretty hard on myself. I am working on it.

Celebrate the small victories.

Amidst the challenges, I have tried really hard to celebrate even the smallest triumphs. Whether it’s completing another round of steroids, managing my symptoms a bit more effectively, or finding moments of joy amidst the chaos, these victories deserve recognition.

Self-grace has meant acknowledging my efforts and achievements, no matter how minor. Sometimes, my best means powering through a long workday, making dinner, and transporting the kids back and forth. On other days, simply getting through the day has been the best I could do.

Self-compassion fuels resilience.

I believe that giving myself grace goes hand in hand with self-compassion. I have found that self-compassion is a powerful tool for building resilience. How would I treat a friend going through this? I ask myself this question often. By treating myself with the same kindness and understanding that I would offer a friend in a similar situation, I am nurturing my mental and emotional health. I think that this has positively impacted my ability to cope with the many challenges that this pesky tumor presents.

This is just a bump in the road.

I am human. It is okay to feel all the feelings, both good and bad. In these past several months, I have learned that I am stronger and more resilient than I ever knew I could be. By giving myself grace, though, I am giving myself permission to just be human and to acknowledge that this often feels heavy. I don’t believe it will always be this way. I believe it will get better, and I will choose to keep surrounding myself with people who fill my heart with sunshine.

TAGGED WITH: meningioma

Opinions expressed within this story belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of the National Brain Tumor Society.

See All News

Stay Informed & Connected