I just had a slight breakdown in the MRI machine today.
Part of my work in therapy is to allow myself to feel emotions. So when I felt panicked, sad, and angry in the MRI machine today I just went with it.
So there I was, splayed out in superman position – boobs expertly positioned to drop into two little cups, arms totally straight so I wouldn’t kink the injection line, trying not to put too much pressure on my chemo port (which is hard to do when you’re laying flat on your chest) – And then the jackhammers start. Oh boy. They give you headphones with really loud music to help drown out the noise. But it’s really hard to overpower the sound of jackhammers. Then half way through they pump the injection line with some awful chemical that turns my mouth to rust. And I’m doing my best not to move at all because if I do I will have to start the whole process over again. And I REALLY don’t want that.
So I just started to cry. It was either that or a full on panic attack. I tried to do my counting meditation… Counting up to 10 and back again… Imagining myself on a beautiful beach, drink in hand… And just let the tears fall and the emotions come.
These are the days it sucks to have breast cancer.
But I’m really trying to allow myself to just be with suckiness. Because a big part of my problem is my inability or unwillingness to feel or express my feelings. Especially the not-so-nice ones. And as I’m discovering, this defense pattern of repressing and denying my feelings is not good for my health.
Last night I was up for hours reading the “Cancer Report” by John Voell & Cynthia Chatfield which summarizes a ton of info from varying experts about the mind-body connection in cancer patients. It was one ‘aha’ moment after another for me reading those pages. These doctors and researchers show how our minds are directly connected to our health outcomes… How stress weakens the immune system… How catastrophic life events precipitate cancer diagnoses… How cancer patients almost always have the same personality traits which develop in childhood and continue into adulthood (being highly conscientious, compassionate, having a need to make others happy, a tendency to carry other people’s burdens and be caretakers, reluctant to accept help from others, having long-suppressed toxic emotions of anger, resentment, and/or hostility, being unaware of the presence of deep-seated emotional problems & conflicts from childhood, and often suffering in silence). The personality traits describe me to a “T”.
The researchers go on to discuss how working through these issues in psychotherapy, eliminating stressors, and making life changes that are in the best interests of the patient (instead of everyone else) can often make the cancer retreat or go into remission.
Of course this is easier said that done. Even for someone like me, who is a trained clinical social worker and aware of the mind-body connection. But time and time again, it is the people who get out of the bad marriages, leave the stressful jobs, distance themselves from the negative haters in their life, change their defense patterns, and go after what truly makes them happy that go on to live long healthy lives.
Through my readings, and my weekly therapy sessions, and my new level of consciousness I am making strides in the right direction. I am more likely to speak my mind now. I am becoming more aware of the repressed feelings. I am allowing myself to feel my feelings. I am asking for help. I try not to worry so much about what other people think. And thanks to this blog, I am no longer suffering in silence.
So thank you everyone for encouraging and supporting me in this journey. For giving me the space to unload and work through my feelings along this breast cancer journey. It is often hard for me to pour out my own fears, thoughts, and emotional upsets in person. But through my writing, I feel like I’m taking steps in the right direction.
Love to all. – T