March 29, 2010

everything is different

i have never had a whole lot of anxiety. of course i've had it here and there, but it's never stood out as one of my more prominent emotions. then i was diagnosed with cancer...and everything changed.

it's not that i have excessive anxiety now, and i've had doctors, nurses, a social worker, and fellow cancer warriors tell me it's 'normal'. then why does it feel so far from 'normal'? i've thought a lot about this lately. i constantly feel guilty for expressing my anxiety, or my fear, or my bad moods...and, i think it's because i'm just not used to it. and when you have cancer, you become the focus of a lot of attention...which creates even more pressure to always be positive and optimistic, because when you trip up, everyone sees it...and no one knows how to react. and, i had unrealistic expectations that everything would go back to the way it was before cancer. there are just so many factors that play into this whole business of figuring out the 'new normal'. and each one complicates things a little bit more...

..and, i wonder why i can't allow myself to accept that i'll have anxiety, and just give myself a break. i just finished six months of having chemicals pumped into my veins, and have just begun the month long journey through radiation...nevermind the fact that i now have to deal with all that comes with being a cancer survivor. i should be allowed to have one, let alone someone in their twenties, should be expected to have no anxiety when facing things like this. in my logical mind, i get's in my emotional mind that i don't...

so, what's next? i refuse to complain about a problem and not even try to do anything about it...which means i need a plan.... for starters, i will live in my new perspective - i've just gone through something pretty traumatizing, and having anxiety, fear and other emotions about it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me - i will do my best to remind myself of this every time i feel guilty or like i'm overreacting. i will take time to slow down when i need it - and i won't feel bad about it. i will lean on others more for support. i will assume i am forever cancer free, unless someone tells me otherwise. i will dedicate more time to practicing mindfulness. and, i will realize that all of these things won't happen's all a process, a journey into the 'new normal'...

1 comment:

  1. Grace, your last paragraph is so mature, and so lovely, it hits me so close to home -- after and during every treatment I have. And you are exactly right. Exactly right.

    Most of us (if we're lucky), start out and continue to be very positive. And because of this attention we have, from being a cancer survivor, we are watched very carefully... and when we do trip, or find ourselves with a down day, most people see it. And this is very difficult, especially for young women who are ALWAYS smiling and trying to find the silver lining of everything.

    The important thing to remember, is what you are realizing now, something that took me years of cancer treatment to learn. To live in the new normal, to ask for help when needed, to not worry - when not needed, and to give ourselves a break... when we deserve it. Which we do. Which we do. Which we do (I just like to keep repeating that to myself).

    I am in awe that you've come to terms with this so soon (after treatment), and you've stated it so, so well. If every hodgkin's warrior could read this, it would be so helpful to them.

    So, here's to you love... you are on your way.

    Sending Love,