Saturday, 11 June 2011

Where is the happiness button?

I am now officially two weeks from the last piece of active treatment and desperately trying to process everything that has happened to me over the last few months.

Nightmares and flashbacks are plaguing me with visions of my time in intensive care and the horrible fall. I just don't seem able to get them out of my head. My husband tells me that I cry and sound distressed in my sleep most nights and I'm getting flashbacks several times a day. They creep up on me unawares and leave me feeling tearful, depressed and scared. Surely after 7 weeks this should be starting to fade away now? The most frightening aspect of all this is that I feel like I've forgotten what it means or feels like to be happy, which is a very scary place to end up in.

I am also dealing with feelings of guilt at what this has done to my husband because the stress of it all has exacerbated a heart condition and is giving him angina. It's not uprising but equally it's hard to come to terms with the fact that my poor health has so badly affected his wellbeing. He's carried the burden of my care all these months and it has taken its toll on him.

The trip to ICU, knowing that I could have died, witnessing and being unable to prevent the horrible fall - goodness knows that would all be hard for anyone to cope with! To quote a popular cliché; we have been to hell and back more than once! I am so lucky to have his fabulous support, just knowing he's by my side has helped me so much.

Now though I am in a very strange place emotionally. I know that I need to deal with my feelings, find closure and move on and that I need to ask for professional help to do so.

But that's the hard thing. . . asking for help is not something I find easy to do.

Is it a sign of weakness or failure?

Well obviously the logical part of me knows that it is neither but it is a tough thing for me to admit that I need outside help. I am so used to being the shoulder that everyone else cries on. It feels alien having to reach out for help on my own account. I want, no that's not right; I need to take that step, to accept that there are some things you just cannot do on your own. It's not a cry in the wilderness because there are people who can help - if I ask.

Part of the problem is that I feel like I am also having to cope with the burden of everyone else's expectations. All along the way the medical staff and my friends and family have told me they are inspired by my fortitude, bravery and general stoicism.

But here's the thing folks; being brave has nothing to do with it! You just have to suck it up and get on with it. I want to live therefore having treatment was the only sensible option, it's as simple as that.

Bravery, 'courage under fire' whatever you want to call it, I don't see that as being a good label for me. These are descriptions of those who put themselves in danger for the sake of others. I was doing this for me, not for anyone else's benefit. I just had to take a deep breath and get on with it and that's what I did. No one could have predicted all the crap stuff with Docetaxel or that I'd end up as ill as I did.

It just happened and it doesn't happen to everyone.

But I am still here! I might need help to move on but I am here and that's what counts the most!

I know that my happiness button is inside me somewhere lying dormant and waiting for a gentle push. Just because it's hiding right now doesn't mean it will stay lost forever. I may be looking up from a deep abyss but at least I can see that there is light. It's not very bright, a long way off, I just need a little help to reach it.

Moving on after active treatment has finished is one of the hardest things that anyone with breast cancer will have to do. I think so many of us breathe a big sigh of relief when we get to the end of surgery/chemotherapy/radiotherapy, even if there is hormone therapy to follow. Sometimes it's only then that the enormity of what we've been through sinks in and there is an emotional fallout to cope with - just when people around us think we are finally on the mend.

In many ways it's just as tough as living through all the trauma of active treatment because it seems like your support system has been wrenched away. This is the time for pouring balm on a troubled psyche - it's the heart, mind and spirit that need nurturing now. That's where I am now - looking for a way out of the turmoil that has invaded my peace and understanding that this is not something I can do alone.

I will find the way upwards, onwards. It is possible to do that, there is help out there to enable me to do so. I just need to take that first step.

I want to believe that I can be happy again.

I can be happy again.

I can. . .

1 comment:

  1. Yes you can be happy again! I so relate to what you have said...especially the brave part. We do what we have to do to survive. To me that doesn't seem so brave. I didn't risk my life to make a difference in someone else's life. I'm OK with my cancer, it's just trying to figure out how the rest of my new life takes shape in a positive way for me that is hard! The good news is, this shall pass too, and happiness will be abundant again.