Cancer Narratives: Cracks and Raw Edges
Using scientific research as a springboard for discussion, CKN is distilling this research into practical narratives (click here to learn more about narratives) that will improve the quality of life for patients and offer deeper understanding and connection for physicians. Please join this Doctor-Patient conversation about Depression.
Afterwards though I was even keel, but dulled somehow, at least I felt like I was dulled. So I thought could it hurt?
It’s been almost a month and I’m feeling. Feeling angry and bitter, sad and depressed. I actually hate myself right now. I don’t like wallowing in self-pity, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I want to curl up into a ball and sleep. I want the world to go away and just leave me alone. I hate feeling this way! I hate that I can’t be happy for others without feeling sorry for myself. I hate thinking that my life has been a series of tragedies that I just happen to scrape through. I hate thinking that I should be happy because I’m alive. I hate not getting what I want, what I’ve worked hard for. I hate self-pity!
So many thoughts at once.
Firstly, I’m energized by the truth in this piece – something we don’t hear often. We walk around with masks on, pretending we’re fine – when, in fact, most of us are hurting. One of the benefits of the cancer weekend retreats (or any support group) is that people feel a lot less isolated and lonely when they hear others speak their truth. Suddenly, it’s not just me suffering through depression or anxiety or fear or awfulness – it’s lots of other people. If we extend the idea further we realize that it is part of the human journey. We can see it as a pattern – so we don’t need to take it so personally. The feeling of ‘my pain’ turns to ‘the pain’. Somehow that can lessen the sting as we begin to see ourselves as if from above.
Secondly, the Leonard Cohen quote comes to mind: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. My heart swells somehow when I think about this idea that we are all perfectly imperfect. On the retreats we teach about ‘our already existing wholeness’ -and this wholeness contains every aspect of our personality. We are whole already – whether or not we take meds to balance our chemicals in our brains.
Lastly, I don’t see it as any type of failure to take medication to control mood. In fact, I think it shows great courage and insight to go to your Doc to have the discussion. Look at the pros and cons when deciding to take an anti-depressant. Try going on and coming off. Figure out what works for you – and keep experimenting – keep learning. Life will change again (that’s the only constant). Bless you for working at it – trying to figure it out.
I hope your piece is an inspiration for others to continue on their healing journey – which includes seeking professional help.
Dr. Rob Rutledge is a Radiation Oncologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, specializing in breast, prostate and pediatric cancers. He is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
In 1999, Rob co-created the ‘Skills for Healing’ Cancer Weekend Retreats. These weekend support groups teach a powerful and integrated approach to the cancer diagnosis and ways to heal at levels of body, mind and spirit. To date, more than 1,600 people have attended the retreats in over 20 cities across Canada and abroad.