Back in November, I was able to celebrate a chunk of my birthday morning with my oncologist. It was a superb follow up, all things are looking good and I’m feeling fine 👌
At this appointment, we decided to order a routine CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Due to covid and what not, things are still running a bit behind so my scan was scheduled for a few weeks after my oncology appointment.
Fun Fact: I will never NOT think I peed myself during a CT scan with contrast…. If you know, you know… and then you know that the contrast injection is some weird shit.
The scan itself was fine (aside from the pee-pants sensation), the Kaiser staff is always great. It did take super long to get the results though. After several emails to my doc, I finally explained that the 3 week delay in my results was about to shove me straight into a severe anxiety tornado. So on Christmas Day, Santa (aka Dr. Ahmed) gave the fucking fab gift of a clear scan! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halleluuuuuuuuuujah! (Channeling my inner Pentatonix, you know?)
Being 5 years out from diagnosis is huge for me, because- DUH- it means I’m still alive and living is pretty cool. I continue to be grateful for each new unicorn (gray) hair popping up every other day because it means this gal has had the pleasure of getting older. The wrinkles around my eyes remind me that I’ve had this time to laugh and make happy memories. My extra… errr… cushioning reminds me I’ve been able to eat another holiday season’s worth of treats.
And like Circe said in Madeline Miller’s book, ‘Of course my flesh reaches for the earth. That is where it belongs.’
A little late but still grate-ful! Yesterday got away from me and while I planned to post the annual ABC’s of gratitude on Thanksgiving as per usual, I – well, I just didn’t. Life, ehh?
Wait, what’s are the ABC’s of gratitude, you ask? It’s a spin off of a game I play with myself when I’m anxious, bored, trying to fall asleep, etc. and I first talked about it on here back when I had my breast biopsy 5 years ago. I was pregnant, scared and trying to stay calm while a big ass needle was entering my big ass boob. Silently crying, I was listing foods that began with each letter of the alphabet to cope.
I still make these lists quite often in my head, mostly at night time because insomnia is a bitch. And when it comes time to create my annual list for Thanksgiving, I love to to look back and see what’ changed, what’s similar and what is the same… fricking word. for. word. Check it: 20162017201820192020
Quick reminder, these are things I am truly grateful for, no matter how big or small they may seem. And since it’s my game, I make the rules. XOXO!
A snapshot of me in my latest deep depressive episode. Would you have even guessed?
Probably not. So let’s talk about it. It’s not always hiding away, not showering, engaging in drugs / food / alcohol for days on end. Though, it might be. It’s different for all of us.
Many people know I have long lived with depression and anxiety. At the same time, so many people don’t. I can remember being a young kid and not understanding my feelings because it wasn’t something talked about. I remember the same feelings as an adult and still not understanding. I lived for years thinking something was wrong with me. Feeling like I was broken. No ‘reason’ for feeling the way I did so I spent my time acting like everything was cool.
So even now, when I’m super open about my mental health, people still seem surprised. I know, I smile. A lot. Like, A LOTTTTT. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in a good place. I mean, I have a big ass grin on my face while doing burpees at the gym for fucks sake. I smile when I’m happy, sad, excited, overwhelmed. I smile when I’m being real and when I’m faking it. I think smiling is my fall back safe place… just like my love for uncomfortable, dark humor. It cloaks me.
My husband has pointed out that my deep depression episodes are cyclical. Something I had never acknowledged on my own. This makes me feel a bit more in control of an uncontrollable situation. Like if I pay attention, maybe one day I can catch it earlier and not spiral so deep.
I didn’t catch this last one. I’m emerging out of a roughly two month depression fog. I say roughly because it silently comes on and retreats slowly over time- to a point where it all just feels…. like something. Not sure how to describe it other than… it’s something.
It’s scary because one day I realize that I’m not ok. And that I haven’t been ok for sometime. And suddenly I recognize a part of myself that I’m scared of.
I recently admitted to my husband that years ago, I wanted to take a bath while pregnant with our second son. I wanted to slip under the bubbles but never come back up. I don’t know why I felt this. I hadn’t had a noticeable or conscious trigger. I hadn’t even been diagnosed with cancer yet. I just was not ok. And thankfully I had a midwife who listened and got me started on meds… again.
Here’s the thing though, I love baths. They are my sanctuary. My self care, if you will. They used to be my safe place. I still take baths on the regular but not one goes by where I don’t remember that moment. It’s a constant reminder of how deep I was at that point…And how far I’ve come… But also that I need to continue my work. Because putting in the work during the ‘good times’ is just as important as being patient with myself during the not so great ones.
Now, I am one of those people who are proud to say that I am on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. They hold no shame over me and I am prepared to live my life on them for the long haul. Because I want to be around for the long haul. Even on meds, though, I slip. Sometimes there’s a big trigger like a birthday, death anniversary, holiday for one of my parents that I don’t even realize I’m anticipating. Sometimes I enter a credit card for some harmless online shopping and I face my mortality (thanks cancer 🖕) wondering if I’ll be around to get a new card when this one expires.
I am again on the hunt for a therapist. A non biased source to listen and offer coping skills. My last therapist told me I seemed fine and she didn’t know why I even needed to see her. I then asked her for help for when the ‘not fine times’ showed up. That didn’t happen…. and I never went back. She just didn’t get it.
When some people are depressed, it’s not that we necessarily have nothing to live for. I have so much to live for. It’s just that sometimes it’s all so hard. And for me, it’s not a constant cloud over my head but a shitty and unreliable forecast that may or may not show up at any time.
All this said- I hope that someone feels heard, seen, understood, not alone when I share my story. I say this to my cancer peeps all the time but want to express to all you. Please, reach out to me if you feel like no one else will get it. I cannot fix it but I can listen. We can’t do life alone, no matter how loudly depression tells us we can.
Fun fact: I wrote this post while in the bath. Today, it served as my inspiring and happy place.