heavy-hearted and honest sharing of the funk

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

This is likely going to be a "woe is me" post, feel free to skip it if you're looking for a cheery read.

I'm feeling pretty down today. Well, truthfully I've been in a bit a funk for awhile. In full disclosure this funk has clung to me or me to it for a long time, a couple of years probably. It's wearing me down now. Today my feelings of sadness and disbelief of how my life has changed are pretty strong. Perhaps letting these feelings out will help.

I know how and why I've gotten to this place, well mostly. But completely at a loss on how to get out of it. I'm trying though, really.

There is so much joy in my heart and in my imagination. The littlest things can completely make my spirit sing. There's something or some things that seem hell bent on smothering that joy. Maybe it's me or maybe it's just the way life is.

When I was working, I worked a lot. Some days it was a standard 8 hours, some days closer to 12. All too often I would work my job, then have to come back and fill in another whole shift at night. (This is the type of thing that they don't tell you about in nursing school). It sucked so much time and energy out of me I often felt I had nothing left. It caused a certain amount of stress which led to anxiety and even depression. I missed my girls. I was fortunate to be able to stay home for Kelley's first year which sadly was filled with other things that took away from what should have been the best year of my life. Bethany however missed out completely, I went back to work before her sixth week, during off hours that Mr. H was home. Actually, I missed out completely.

I would think about all of the ways life would be better if only I didn't have to work so much. If only I could stay home. What fun I would have with Kelley and Bethany. I would do this and do that. If only...

Now it's been close to three years since I've worked. This is not by choice but by necessity of my health. I met many people when I had lymphoma who were also in various stages of battling the disease, Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's. Some had less treatment, some had more. And now so many of them have gotten back to life and I haven't. This isn't fair, I'll think, why am I not back to way it was before? Oh yeah, I had a complication or two. Permanent complications, unless I opt to have this set of hideous surgeries. The ones that my Vascular Specialist can do, but doesn't want to do. The ones that my Oncologist and Osteopath both say, they'd rather I not. So, it appears that I'm stuck.

But remember how I wanted to be home so badly? Now I am. However it's not the way I planned, not at all. The girls are in school now. I am so happy to be there when they get off the bus. Their "work day" ends now when school is out, not when my work day is done like it was before. That's a great thing about being home.

The rest though? It's so strange, I have all of this time now. My days and nights run into each other. I often feel anxious like I did when I was working, as if there isn't enough time. This is a mystery to me. My obligations are few. In fact they are so few that I have become a bit of a recluse.

At first it was because I was exhausted from treatments and I had no hair. Then it was because I had started retaining fluid and looked so huge and round and puffy. It looked so odd on my short and smallish frame and I was embarrassed. When I would go out, I found that I could function ok for the day, but the next day was awful-full of pain and fatigue.

As a result, came seclusion. I stopped visiting with and talking on the phone with my friends. Allowing my only interactions with the outside world being online. I've turned down so many requests of friends who wanted to get together. I wasn't a big TV watcher, but I stopped watching TV completely, even the few shows I really enjoyed. I love music, but stopped listening to it. This became so obvious when I tried to think of songs I liked from 2008/2009 and found I only knew a handful of them. My picture taking has slowed down quite a bit, not remembering the last time I shared new pictures of the girls. (even beyond the missing camera mystery) That is just not me!

Another thing that makes me sad is how much I've come to rely on others and how I've changed the way they live their life. That has to be stressful for them. I am blessed with amazing parents who would do anything for me. I don't often have to ask them, they anticipate my needs ahead of time. Mr. H's life has become complicated. Some of the changes I believe are good for him, helping him to become the leader of our household. But some of it isn't good. He's a hospice nurse. He takes care of sick and dying patients, when he's not working though, he is still taking care of me. He can't get away from it. There are so many days that I am pretty low physically or emotionally. He has to deal with the physical help, making sure I have all of my medications, and also being on the receiving end of the emotional overload that spills out of me. Oh, my parents have had to deal with that too. And the girls. Everyone does. Back to Mr. H, he also does the bulk of our shopping and assists me with taking care of Kelley and Bethany. It's a lot. He even started taking college classes this semester and that makes me proud. Maybe college is a nice respite from the home. This is something I encourage him to do often, get out of the house and do something he enjoys, spend time with friends, even take a night or two to spend at a hotel to just be alone and relax. Unfortunately he doesn't often do any of it, maybe he's too worn out. His stress level is high and that's not good for any of us.

As for the girls, they are doing ok. I think. I hope. The initial fear of something happening to me seems to have passed. They are happy and healthy. School is going well. Outside of school they spend time with friends, spend time with my parents every weekend, are involved in church and usually an activity-currently softball. But there are clues that they miss the old life we had. Especially with Bethany. When I wear the perfume I used to wear to work she always notices it and then follows with a "remember when" story. Since I don't go out often my normal attire is pajamas. When I do get dressed even just in a jeans and tee, Bethany is completely wowed and tells me how beautiful I look.

All in all, we are surviving. But I know that I have disrupted so many lives and continue to. This makes me sad, angry, guilty. It makes me want to push myself harder physically and that inevitably ends up not so great. Humbled, the emotions overflow.

One thing that interests me is all of the neat things I want to learn and create. There's time for that now. My intentions are well meaning but when it comes right down to it I never seem to be able to start any of the tasks. I have so many plans. But it's a dichotomy of sorts. Believing that these goals will help me rise above the funk. And often unable to begin working on the things I want to do because I'm stuck in a funk. The one thing that I love and haven't lost the ability or desire to do is read, so I'm always reading. It's my hope that very soon the list of things I'm doing will grow.

There are some actual accomplishments that I must share in order to not come off as completely pathetic. I'm going out more. Taking some of the workload off of Mr. H (not much, just a bit), I'm running more quick errands instead of asking him. We have had date nights out of the house, which he loves. I'm getting out more with Kelley and Bethany, which they love. Spring softball started for them a few weeks ago. This endeavor is something that I do with them all on my own and we haven't missed a practice. I enjoy it as much as they do, maybe even more. We're going to see Taylor Swift in concert this Friday, part of Bethany's birthday gift. All of us are excited about that! These things may seem small but in my reality they are in fact big deals. I hope that my family feels the same. And I hope it's a start of progress.

Through my old job I met a friend who I had a lot in common with, sometimes I think we may be kindred spirits. Our lives have now ended up in similar circumstances where she is now disabled like me and at home full time. After we parted ways at work, we still spoke daily and spent time together. But as I fell into the funk, she is one of the many that I stopped communicating with the past couple years. No more visits or phone calls, just an occasional email. She would ask over and over for me to call her or visit or let her come to me. My answer was always an apologetic no. I have no real reason for why I shut her out but I did. Over the past couple days we have been exchanging emails and I finally asked her if I could come back into her life and maybe stop over sometime soon to visit. Thankfully she said yes. This is something that I hope I will do. It's something I need to do. Another step out of this pit of despair and self imposed isolation.

For all of you who have asked how I've been doing and got an answer that things were fine, good, etc. All of this is the real answer. Not wanting to be a "Debbie Downer", I tried to appear upbeat. To the few of my friends that I've kept it real with, I thank you for always listening and never becoming bored or exasperated with me. Thank you for helping me make it through my darkest of days.

As for those dark days, yes this was another one. This one though, I've shared with everyone. It must have been therapeutic to let it all out as I feel a bit lighter. Not sure that I really want to hit submit, but I've said to lots of people, lots of times that I am open, honest and own my words. So here they are. To all of you that have made it this far...thank you!


tarzan March 4, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

Heather I'm sorry I've been so lack in replying to blogs lately..... just didn't have it in me for awhile. This is a beautiful post and what I get from it is that you are taking the ever important baby steps that are so needed before you can jump to longer strides. Give yourself a lot of credit for what you have accomplished for they are great things. So many "healthy" people I know never get the chance to start over and they miss out on so much. Here is to those who can appreciate the importance of those baby steps.... love you, tarzan

Rosa March 10, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

You do a great job at inspiring others - even in your dark days. I'm an ovarian cancer survivor. I work for ChiliTechnology and was lucky to have access to a mattress pad that cools (or heats) the bed: ChiliPad during my treatment. I wish they had one of these in every hospital. It was a lifesaver for me because the chemo would make me alternately very hot, and then freezing cold - and I could adjust my bed from 48 to 118 degrees using a remote control. Also after my surgery I feel as though I healed much faster because of it. Thought this tip might help you and/or your readers.

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