Saturday, 2 April 2011

D.A.D.A or 'where I am now'

This is an acronym  for Denial, Anger, Depression, Acceptance and is most often used to describe the steps one goes through in the process of dealing with a life-changing event. Dr Elizabeth Kübler-Ross used the system (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) as a method of describing how her patients dealt with being diagnosed with a terminal illness but it has since been expanded to cover any significant life-changing event. I am using D.A.D.A because I don't need to bargain with anyone or anything at this stage in my life, the rest however I think will prove an accurate reflection of how I process what is happening to me right now.

Where I am now.

I am at a crossroads.

I am angry and depressed by turns.

Why did this happen to me?

Yes, I have other health issues but on the whole I have led a fit and healthy life (okay so I smoked briefly, but it was briefly a long time ago). I was a full vegetarian for over 25 years and even though I now eat small amounts of fish and poultry, until chemotherapy came along I had a very balanced and healthy diet. I rarely drink and have exercised regularly my entire life, so why the fuck did cancer pick me?

It is very easy to get sucked into life's general culture of blame. Partly because lifestyle does play a huge part in whether we succumb to certain cancers and also because the medical profession asks you so many endless questions about diet and exercise, you end up feeling like there must have been something you could have done to prevent this.

Did I miss that something? Did I make a mistake somewhere and somehow bring this on myself?

This is the stumbling block, the large rock in my way. I want to believe that it is just bad luck, and part of me acknowledges that that is very likely the case, but still I want, no need, to know why/how this happened to me. The problem is that I also need to accept that I'll never know and that makes me angry. I want answers dammit, why can't someone tell me what I want to know. . .

The doctors can't help, they are there to treat the physical results of cancer not to speculate on the why if the cause isn't obvious. They point you in the direction of dealing with the here and now - get treated, move on, deal with it as best you can. That's not to say that they aren't caring and compassionate, they are but they don't have the answers I'm looking for.

And I need answers, someone or something to help me make sense of it all. I am angry because I know that the answers aren't out there and that in turn leaves me despondent and depressed. I know I can't change what I did in the past, that blame is not a pathway to either acceptance or understanding but it is where I am now. I need someone to tell me how I got here.

Anger is a big part of my life, there are days when it consumes me. I yell at the world, at the cancer, at anything, even the smallest and pettiest of things is likely to set me off.

I scream, I cry, I rant and rail.

But the sheer futility of it all eventually overwhelms me.

Depression sets in.

It takes my hand and leads me to places I don't really want to go. I am looking through shaky fingers at a misty twilit world, full of half-formed demons. Demons of my own making. They don't chase me but look defiantly back, daring me to accept or deny their existence, waiting for me to take their hand and run off with them into the darkness. In their presence the anger I felt dissolves and I weep for what I see around me - the last vestiges of an unchanged life, a life that is rapidly being swallowed into the mist. I want, almost need, to run off with them and that scares me almost as much as the future does, because I know I could get lost there and stay lost for a long time.

Things will never be the same again.

The logical part of my mind knows this and wants to accept it, but the siren song that is both anger and depression encourages me to cling onto what cannot be, what will never be. I cannot go there again.

Yet still I cling on. Barely. My finger tips trying to grasp the last few precious moments of the 'life that was.'

Reality has not yet set in. Will it ever? Will I ever look through my fingers and see the beginning of brighter, better things?

Part of me hopes that the brightness is there, just waiting to peep over the horizon but somehow it knows that I'm not ready for the hazy glow of a new day's light, at least not just yet. Before the sunshine, you need the rain, before the day you need the night. To know life is to understand that you cannot have happiness without your share of pain. Is this the message that cancer is trying to tell me? I don't know.

I listen, I wait.

I can feel the pouring rain and though I am soaked, somehow I know that somewhere there is a sun waiting to dry me and warm me.

One day the sunlight will be a reality.

One day.

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