Friday, 27 May 2016

What next?

I’ve sat at the kitchen table off and on for the past five hours, busying myself on the laptop and only getting up for an occasional light fit of tidying or marking things on the calendar. I’ve even managed to get dressed today and put some make-up on but the truth is I don’t know what to do with all the time stretching before me.

It’s too soon after the event to say I have depression, and the short space of time between where I am today and being told treatment was done affords me the dignity of ‘processing’ rather than being given a mental health label.

How would you envisage life after treatment? Do you think of smiles and the overriding feeling of success and hope? I did. I’ve even felt like that at times throughout the journey and began making plans. The trouble is, I wasn’t ready. I was pootling along in my new norm, going to appointments and resting in-between. They say it takes three weeks to form a habit so by now it’s become a way of life to be ill, looked after, checked in on.

Those pipe dream plans I was making have lost their lustre now I can do them, and anything else I might choose, and even though I was ratty and cantankerous, I miss my family coming in and If I’m honest, I miss that feeling of being the baby of the family again.

Now it’s time to be a grown-up, to once again organise a home and take responsibility, to find a job and more than anything else, find my place in the world. The past two days I have spent willing the phone to ring, the hours to tick by until some social interaction and I realise now how much my life before The Cancer was about my children.  I don’t mean this in regards to how I love them but how they were literally my whole life and I went into a suspended animation when they went to their other home.

I have no idea how to begin this fresh start of mine. Please don’t see this as ingratitude, I am not wishing the outcome were any different, It’s more a case of letting you in on the shock of It after spending so long thinking I wouldn’t be here, it’s the pressure of knowing I really need to make life count now when I really want to comfort eat and lie under a blanket until such a time as I feel ready.

I suppose it’s also that the treatment is done, the cancer is gone but the effects are still here. I’m still bald, I still have no eyelashes, I still, as our newsagent reminded me today ‘have put the weight on’, I will continue to be in a chemically induced menopause for the next 18 months with no guarantees that part of life will return to normal after the injections stop.

My confidence which was shaky at the best of times before cancer took hold has all but gone. There’s nothing to stop me now for applying for a job. Nothing that is except my thoughts and feelings.

As for dating? I’m doubtful I’ll be top of anyone’s pile after this. On a superficial level, treatment has aged me. On a deeper level, cancer has changed me.

Even as I type all of this it doesn’t escape me how it could anger some people who may think I’m being self-indulgent after such good news.  I don’t have anything in response for you except to say I am sorry. I wish I felt lighter and was blazing a trail. I think, if I’m honest, I half expected to find myself on a path after this where I could think ‘ah, I see,’ as though the cancer had all been part of a much bigger plan.

Yet here I am, looking around the house, checking in on Facebook, refusing to turn on the telly during the day, not knowing what to do next and fearful I’ll waste my fresh start.


Stuart said...

Having had depression, I can only ask that if you think you're approaching that, talk to a professional. It really helped but I kept putting it off because you know, man.

Your confidence will return, you're still the same person but with new experiences to relate to. If you want me to type out some yoga breathing exercises that are good for calming and centering just say. Happy to do it.

Sue Stott said...

After reading your blog I can totally relate to how you are feeling. I am in the same frame of mind at present. Feeling like I am in limbo. Wanting to move forward, but, at the same time no confidence to do it xx

Verite said...

No-one, least of all medical professionals, seems to realise that fatigue hits in and hard at the end of treatment. I reckon it builds up and builds up, until without our knowledge it takes over. It's not our fault, but as nothing shows, it's difficult to explain. I learnt to like reading lying on top of my bed - so it was easy to drop off and have a sleep after which I felt much more energised. Gradually the length of sleep got less until I just read now for about 20 mins - after all Churchill insisted on a nap every afternoon, and it didn't do him any harm.