Sometimes I worry that my blog posts are too depressing or that I’ve shared too much personal stuff. But then I receive feedback from readers who are thankful for my raw honesty. This is, after all, my blog. It’s a space to relieve the tensions in my life, inform others of my situation, and provide connection to those who might need it. Still, I wonder if this post should have stayed in my journal.
Flashback to last Friday morning...
I sat in the examination room, trying to keep it together. My Oncologist explained to my parents and I that I need to switch to a new chemotherapy pill. Even though small, the cancer progression in my liver indicates my current medication is no longer working. The moment that he leaves the room, I break down, sobbing heavily, and a dark thought invades my mind.
“I can’t do this anymore. I just want to die.”
Umm, yeah. That was rather scary.
I’m certain it’s the first time I’ve had such a hopeless thought in the last three and a half years of dealing with cancer. Of course, I’ve had low, sad, angry, and scared thoughts. But I’m talking about a deep heaviness. The feeling of standing in the dark, having the rug ripped out from underneath you, and you’re left with a weird hopelessness.
“This is just a thought. It popped in, but I don’t have to cling to it.” I repeated this all day. But the heaviness was still there. It rattled me to the core. I worried about myself. I thought about calling my Psychologist. I told my sister and then I apologized for sharing - I don’t want to scare her. Of course, I didn’t share with my parents.
Shame presented itself as well. Because i’m supposed to be a fighter and stay strong, right? It’s all just another bump in the road, right? Giving up? No. It’s my job to endure and to get back up - for myself, but also for those close to me.
Later that evening my parents and I went for a walk. They left me on a bench by the water to have some alone time. I was feeling seething anger and was trying to soften my body and mind. I began whispering to myself, “Totally normal. That was a normal thought to have.” I also stroked my arm and repeated, “It’s so hard to feel this way" - a line I picked up from How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers by Toni Bernhard. To open your heart to suffering, she says, “Find words specific to the particular difficulty at hand and repeat them compassionately to yourself.”
Repeating these words allowed me to acknowledge my emotional and mental pain.
And to give it space.
Because here’s the thing, okay? I don’t want to die. Obviously. I know that during that appointment, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. And being in that kind of state makes it difficult for anyone to have instant equanimity.
It took time. But the effects of this thought wore off as the days passed.
Today, I’m okay. The darkness is gone. I’m wanting very much to be alive and I hope this next round of medication continues to keep me stable for an increadibly long time.