Sunday, April 13, 2008

disconnected from normal

some of you out there reading may be thinking i am getting depressed. i want you to know i am being proactive. as you may know, i've been on anti-depressant meds for a few years now and they work well. but they don't erase the range of emotions a person can have, nor would I want them to. i want to be able to cry if i need to and to laugh as well! so, i am adding on some herbs and i am sure the increase in exercise will also help even out the moods.

some of you may be dealing with depression of your own. you certainly don't need to get cancer to feel down, that is for sure! i hope reading my story somehow helps you with yours. and i hope you all know how much your standing witness to my story gives me strength and helps me carry on.

my sleep is a bit better already since i started the exercise. i have had an easier time waking up and feeling ready to get out of bed in the mornings. two and a half weeks have passed since i finished radiation treatment. perhaps the bulk of the detox is complete? but it's my emotional energy level that is of most concern right now and this lingering feeling of only being secure at home. perhaps there is a disconnect between my experiences of the last few months with now "looking normal" and feeling some pressure to return to "normal"?

is this what everyone deals with post-trauma? after an accident, fighting in a war, losing someone you love, surviving a terrible disaster? do you all walk through life in the world and feel so different, so disconnected? does it seems insincere to make small talk and go back to touching down lightly into conversations for everyone?

it's easy to feel like this cancer experience is defining who i am.

so. monday i have my first appointment with my new naturpath doctor, a woman who has developed a practice that kind of specializes in breast cancer. she comes highly recommended and is really focuses on nutrition and lifestyle to prevent cancer. i am very hopeful about her and what we will figure out together for this next chapter of getting back to excellent health. especially since i want to find natural alternative to taking tamoxifen, the drug patients with positive estrogen receptors are usually prescribed. directly afterwards i head up to OHSU for my 4 month follow-up with dr. naik and martha. my scar looks really good and i am quite proud of how my skin is recovering. i anticipate dr. naik will be pleased!

then tuesday i see a new therapist for the first time. fingers crossed that we are a good fit and she can lead me through and out of, some of this emotional muck i am in. it seems like some impartial accountability would be useful. and what the hell, while i am paying for this crazy expensive good insurance, i might as well exploit it fully!

this poem has been resonating, from the great Persian poet Rumi...


The Guesthouse

This being human is a guesthouse
Every morning a new arrival
A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness
Comes as an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture
Still treat each guest honorably
He may be cleaning you out
For some new delight!

The dark thought, the shame, the malice
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in
Be grateful for whoever comes
Because each has been sent
As a guide from the beyond

(Translated by Coleman Barks)

4 comments:

Catherine Chandler said...

"is this what everyone deals with post-trauma? after an accident, fighting in a war, losing someone you love, surviving a terrible disaster? do you all walk through life in the world and feel so different, so disconnected? does it seems insincere to make small talk and go back to touching down lightly into conversations for everyone?"

********

In 2004/2005 two very life changing things happened. September of 2004, I had to move back to America from Australia because somehow, without warning, my college fund ran out. I had built a life there and was just starting to plan on applying for residency and continuing with my Honours and Master's degrees. I was crushed. I can't even describe the feeling of complete loss, of giving up everything I owned, and leaving all of my friends who mean the world to me, not knowing if I would ever come back. On the flight back, I cried any moment that I was awake. Sitting, walking, eating, watching movies, reading. I tried to sleep a lot.

I got back to Hood River, Oregon, started working 2 jobs, and drank a lot. I guess it helped distract me , as much as alcohol can.

In April 2005, my father died of a severe heart attack. He died before he even fell over. The weekend before, he had had the best ski trip of his life. My dad was 66. I never knew I could cry as much as I did. After about a month, I was exhausted and frustrated and depressed. I shut off my emotions. I couldn't handle being that sad and suicidal and helpless. I didn't think I could keep going on with my life without my dad. I didn't want to. So I shut my emotions off and tried to make it through the day to day. Laughing felt so strange at first. I felt like somehow it wasn't right to be happy.

I think all of those emotions are normal. They're hard to understand, but they are part of the process. I still cry when I get off the phone with my Aussie friends, and the thought of a wedding without my father to walk me down the aisle still makes me cry.

There is always a disconnected feeling for me around certain things. I still have massive walls up. The counseling will help, and support groups, and time.

I hope you're enjoying the sunny days :) When I should be out hiking, I'm in cleaning. But, apparently my cats really want to go for a walk (yes, you heard that correctly)..so off I go.

Maryam said...

"is this what everyone deals with post-trauma? after an accident, fighting in a war, losing someone you love, surviving a terrible disaster? do you all walk through life in the world and feel so different, so disconnected? does it seems insincere to make small talk and go back to touching down lightly into conversations for everyone?"

I was once stuck in Iraq. My company had sent a plane to evacuate us but the airport was being bombed and there was no way out. That week, 40 hostages were taken. We had no protection at that time. There was a group of us who huddled together for comfort. There was talk of trying to drive to the border but the risk of a bomb or a sniper or a kidnapper was too high. We spent our days watching the city burn and watching mortar fire. We talked about death.

After some days, we finally made it out of Iraq but for weeks after that I was so disconnected. I didn't derive pleasure from the normal things. I just couldn't relate to anyone. I felt terribly alone but I didn't want to be with anyone.

Slowly, slowly, it began to get better.

Of course, there is no way to rush what you are going through. You can't "just be normal" again right away.

You seem to be taking all the right steps. You always amaze me with your astute judgment in what can only be such a complex situation. And how wonderful to have a community of people who are going through similar circumstances to lean on.

So look forward to hearing how things go with your appointments if you want to share.

Warmest wishes from your fellow Rumi lover in Marrakech,
Maryam

DeeAnna Banana said...

oh, I tried to post on the more current one but it rejected me. nice seeing you today. My blog is www.vitalbite.blogspot.com. Check it out. I'm on facebook too. Are you?

d.Sharp said...

I needed to read that poem today, thanks!
Thinking of you and wishing you the best.