"I assumed I’d emerge, like the others you see in magazines"

All day I've struggled to put my finger on what was bothering me. Deciding what to write about today; My head has been a mess of racing thoughts, jumping from one thing to the next with often no connection. Much to my frustration I started a number of entries in my head until they got lost in the mess, then I'd forget to fish  them out. If I had to label how I felt today, I’d say it was frustration. This conclusion took all day to reach. 

Frustrated With what? 

It's a very weird feeling to be frustrated in the present moment of your life, yet be so grateful for it at the same time. Frustrated with the lack of energy, ongoing nausea and bowel issues, having had no hair for 6 months and the frequent trips to hospital, I could go on but I will spare you. 

However I feel grateful in a way I never experienced when I was first recovering 2 years ago. I kept waiting for the elation that never came, but what I lacked in elation I made up for in guilt and shame. I didn't understand what was going on; I’d survived! Smile! Be happy! No?? Well, on anti depressants you go then. I'm still on them now. I stopped fighting against my own prejudice around medication and what that meant for me as a ‘fighter’ and ‘survivor’ and being a mental health worker at the time, and accepted help. So glad I did. I mean you wouldn't refuse a cast for a broken leg, right?

I can admit (and others will verify I'm sure) that I was bitter, resentful and depressed. I was a nightmare, I felt insane, and that I was an unnecessary burden and drain on others. Turns out it's actually very ‘normal’ for people to experience depression during and after treatment! Who knew? I definitely had no idea until I mentioned to my specialist that my GP had prescribed anti depressants. I'll never forget how shameful I felt admitting it to the Dr's I should have been so grateful to. What I realize now is I was actually grateful, and that it was OK to not be OK after all that had happened. It doesn't have to be an either or situation. 

I guess I'm talking about this to bring awareness to an area less discussed, acknowledged or understood. For me it's useful to talk about it as I approach the ‘end' of treatment ( day 80 ish note), I think (hope!) I can recognize the signs this time. 

I assumed I’d emerge, like the others you see in magazines, beating the odds and then I would run marathons, with renewed positivity on life. They are the exception not the rule I later discovered, and while even I'm trying my hand at things like meditation, yoga , mindfulness and ‘thinking positive’, it's exhausting. Not feeling those bubbly positive vibes today. It's not realistic to be ‘up’ all the time. But that does not mean I’ve stopped feeling grateful. It just means I'm having an off day. I'm saying this more to myself I think; survivors can have off days too. 

Has anyone experienced anything similar? Comment with your story.

Kristin PatersonComment