It’s ok to not be ok……

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In the last couple of weeks I have had several conversations with some of my survivor friends, about not feeling like they are doing great. feeling not OK. What do you say when someone asks you how you are doing? Do you lie and say “I’m great!” or do you say ” well I am having trouble sleeping and I am having panic attacks and I think I might have lymphedema but I am not sure and….”  I have been feeling guilty about my issues with my anxiety. One of my friends said to me “It’s OK to take medication because of your anxiety you have had a rough year and you have been through a lot, give yourself a break!” It is very easy to feel bad about feeling bad. Not only does cancer take it’s toll on us physically but it takes a toll on us mentally too.

I was standing in my bathroom the other day thinking to myself, “Did this really happen to me? Did I really have breast cancer, and surgery and chemo?” It floors me sometimes. How in the heck did this happen? I was walking along one day and Bam I have cancer. Who thinks that is going to happen to you? A healthy 41 year old Mom of three girls, nonsmoker, healthy eater (most of the time) in good physical shape. It’s really hard to wrap you brain around sometimes. I wonder if there is such a thing for cancer survivors to have post traumatic stress? I am thinking the answer to this is yes.

The point to my rambling is that I decided it is OK to have bad days, it’s OK to need medication if your are having anxiety, it’s OK to be scared and unsure. No one prepares you for having cancer, no one thinks it will happen to them. There is no book what to expect when your expecting cancer. There is no guidebook no instruction manual. We all just plug along on our own personal journeys.

How wonderful it is that we have each other though.

Cross posted on Spruce Hill

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8 Responses to It’s ok to not be ok……

  1. lorri s. says:

    Yep…I think so too…I got TMJ as my parting gift from chemo treatment. I think Post Tramatic Cancer Treatment Syndrome is for real. Bring on the meds! 😉

  2. I could have written this post. Do not feel guilty about feeling anxiety. Medication can help keep it at bay so that you can make more room for living life instead of worrying about life. I do the same thing with the whole having cancer business….If it weren’t for my bald head, constant fatigue and one missing breast, I wouldn’t think I was fighting cancer. Sometimes I feel like I’m recovering from extensive knee or back surgery. You know, where you go through alot of pain and discomfort but then after a year you just get back to life like nothing happened. Unfortunately with cancer, after treatment is over, you do have to get back to life except for that one constant nagging fear that lies in the back of your mind….. is it going to strike again? Take care….

  3. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    Well we all know what I think on the subject. Grins. 🙂

  4. Hi,
    Sorry I’ve been off the list awhile. My computer crashed and I lost all my “favorites.”

    You are describing a common post-treatment set of thoughts and feelings. And yes, post-traumatic stress is seen in cancer survivors.

    Anxiety, sadness, irritability can be (1) the signal of a problem or (2) the response to a problem.

    If the signal of a problem, it’s helpful to sit down with someone and figure out, “Ok, what is the underlying reason for these thoughts and feelings?” If you know exactly what’s triggering it, then it’s helpful to sit down with someone and figure out, “Ok, this is the problem, so how can I fix the problem, minimize the problem or learn to adapt to the problem.”

    I found recovery after completion of treatment more challenging in many ways than going through treatment. I explore all the reasons why, and what to do about it in the book, AFTER CANCER. A Guide to Your New Life.

    This blog is great because sharing helps us know that our thoughts and feelings are common (and we’re not crazy!). Most importantly, we can share ways to keep from getting stuck in unpleasant thoughts and emotions.

    What matters most is not what you feel, but what you do with what you feel. With hope, Wendy

  5. Becky says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I agree with Wendy that recovery after completing treatment was more challenging emotionally (for me, anyway) than the actual treatment itself. I think that it is hard too because others often say how great it is that we have beaten cancer and think that our lives just go back to the way it was before diagnosis. I always tell people it is a new normal. I often struggle with finding the balance between being neurotic (my finger hurts, do I have bone mets?, etc.) and being vigilant–knowing when to call the doctor. I do think that for me it is important to make the choice not to let my anxieties paralyze me. I know the realities of recurrence, but I am cancer free today, so I have to live today!

  6. Like Becky, I have “made the choice” not to let my anxieties paralyze me. Sometimes all it takes is a little self-talk. Other times it takes support from friends and loved ones. And I have had occasion when I’ve needed physician-prescribed medication to help.

    The “choice” part just determines my goal regarding my state of anxiety. How I achieve it depends on the situation and sometimes requires outside help.

    With hope, Wendy

  7. Nice Post. The title says it all.

    Sometimes, we are not OK. And it is important to allow ourselves the space to be “not OK” — just as long as we don’t get stuck there.

    Since I have been a teenager, I have allowed myself the luxury of wallowing in self pity for 24 hours (over any given thing). If something is really bad, I might extend it for a grace period of another 24 hours. But, after that, it’s time to get up, brush off my pants, and get on with things.

    It is so important to give ourselves the space to feel what we are feeling.

    But, keep your finger on your pulse. If you need a bit of help along the way, don’t hesitate to get it!

  8. Lahdeedah says:

    I so get this. Treatment, to me, was like a long swim. Arduous at times, but I knew I was getting somewhere. When I actually got there, I fell apart. I was tired. I had put on 20 pounds in what seemed like hours. My skin had lost its resilience. My hair looked awful. My reconstruction was a huge disappointment. I was tired, scared, depressed, furious. A friend told me once, “you can’t go over it or under it; you have to go through it.” It was good advice. I felt what I needed to feel, unapologetically. And I slowly got to a place of real acceptance.

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