Having an added layer further complicates the issue at hand (my cancer), of course, and I would imagine everyone has an added layer - kids, jobs, money. If I truly let myself think about my added layer, despair claws at me and won’t let me go. And it applies to the person to whom I would normally discuss this despair and seek her comfort, to have her soothe me and tell me everything will be alright - the fact that she has too much pain of her own - multiplies this gripping hopelessness and threatens to drag me very, very far down into a dark abyss.
This abyss looked like this:
On Friday, the sun shining through the window made me numb. The fact that we are closing on our house soon and I should be so happy and excited but I’m not -- made me numb. I have much to look forward to but I didn’t care. I wondered, why this life? Why do I have this life? And the answers seemed so outside any realm of understanding or feelings of worthiness that I grew overwhelmed and even more numbed.
Ask anyone with Depression what it feels like and they will tell you that it is the true absence of emotion that marks its grip. Thankfully, eventually I experience more than that barren wasteland of emotional numbness.
Eventually I’m able to emote. To cry so forcefully my chest hurts. To squeeze my eyes shut agains tears so hard I get a headache. This can last minutes or hours. This can stop and then start again. And, when I’m done, so far, I’m able to deftly step over that fence to the other side. The side where I feel better. Where I can regain some hope and resolve. I did this Friday evening. And then again on Saturday.
No one, really--besides Mike--witnesses how low I can go. When I emerge most only see the “I’m feeling okay now” and “Had a bad day(s) but I feel better now.” Poor Mike, he can’t escape; he has to live alongside my pain, he has to try, mostly in vain, to fix it. He has to absorb my pain alongside his own.
I guess the point of this long-winded story is a simple one: let it out. Emote. And expect that there will be very bad days. I went along for a while on my high, congratulating myself on how well I was taking everything. I felt well, I had energy, I loved my friends and Mike and Lily more than ever, and I just had to get through the next few months and before i know it I’d be through it. A healthy perspective. But not a sustainable one. Not one for all days. I was delusional.
By the way, it’s okay to be delusional, obviously. But it's better to take give that Lazy Susan of Emotions a spin now and then; or else life itself is numbing, in a way. You don't get the highs without the lows. My anger didn’t really come about until recently; my hopelessness didn’t really seep out until recently. And it’s all okay. Because as cynical as that (lower-case 'd') depression would like me to be, I am not inherently cynical. Right as I was drafting this post, wondering whether once again to write about my "case of the sads," I received two beautiful cards. One was from my friend's parents, two salt-of-the-earth humans. The handwritten words inside--even though I've heard them and seen them and they've been imparted to me multiple times already--dug a hole all the way to my gut. "This too shall pass..this is a but a blip on the radar."
It's just a rotation on that Lazy Susan of life.
PS: My oncologist asked me to participate in the Jimmy Fund Telethon on August 30. When I get the exact time I'll let everyone know. I get to sit in the booth and talk about how exceptional Dana-Farber is (which won't be difficult) and to tell my "story" albeit in a span of 2 minutes. I'm happy to do it; even happy to be bald on TV. I'll keep y'all posted on specifics.