Time to Pull Myself Out of Sadness

A happy day – Grandpa is the special guest for music class at Miss M’s preschool.

The last couple of months have been a real struggle for me.

The surgery.  The recovery.  The changes to my everyday routines.  The change of the seasons.  Missing life in NYC.  Not loving life in Ohio.  The blood clot in my lung.  More hospital stays.  More medications & doctors visits.  One highly emotional and unruly toddler.  The lack of energy.  The low level depression that takes up too much space in my head & makes me not want to do much of anything (including write).  The never ending medical research.  The complicated medical decisions.  The difficult acknowledging of painful repressed feelings in therapy.  The demands of being a cancer patient, a mother, and a wife.

And the resistance to accepting that all of this is my new normal.

The ladies from my dad’s online support group recently expressed concern because they hadn’t seen a post from me in nearly 2 weeks.  Was everything OK?  Technically, yes.  Life goes on.  I’m breathing.  I’m alive.

But emotionally, psychologically, I feel smothered.  Blanketed by lethargy.  Trapped in a muddy mess.  Sad.  Frustrated.  Angry.  Despite all that I have, I find myself jealous of what others have.  I want to be carefree.  I want my worries to be about day-to-day crap and not about life or death crap.  I want simple decisions to be the focus of my day.  Like what to make for dinner.  Or what to wear.  Not decisions about side effects, medications, and potentially life threatening aches & pains.

I’m so frustrated with this confusing dance of treatment and consequences.  It seems each step I take towards getting rid of the cancer brings with it a big bag of unwanted complications.  Trying to chart the best path requires hours and hours of research, reading, and consulting with a host of healthcare professionals of varying specialties.

Right now I’m in the midst of deciding what to do about my breasts…  Should I move forward with breast reconstruction knowing there is always the possibility of complication, infection, or illness that would require further surgeries?  If I do, should I go with the silicone implant recommended by my plastic surgeon even though I’ve been hearing one too many horror stories about silicone implants being linked to autoimmune disorders and other sicknesses?   Should I push to have my other breast removed as a precautionary measure even though my surgeon is not recommending it and the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for it?  Or just have the other breast reduced and lifted which is a much easier surgery?  Does having a double mastectomy improve outcomes with metastatic disease?  If the cancer really wants to come back, won’t it come back regardless of whether there is a breast there or not?

Last week I made a quick 24 hour trip to NYC to meet with my plastic surgeon (where I was joined by my amazing and loving Auntie L who drove down from Massachusetts just to be with me and be my second set of ears at the appointment.  Thank you Auntie!!!).  I expressed my concerns to my plastic surgeon and he reassured me that the decisions were mine to make.  He told me I had already gone through the toughest part by having the expander put in.  We discussed my options.  He answered my questions.  And in the end, I decided to get a small amount (60 ccs) of saline injected into my expander.

The reality is that yes, I want boobs.  But I don’t want life threatening complications or numerous corrective surgeries.

My thinking right now is that I might-as-well move forward with the reconstruction – But keep my new breasts very small (in case we need to remove them or the implants), choose saline over silicone implants (for safety reasons), and be prepared to remove the implant immediately if there are concerns.

As I make my way through the new normal that is my life, I keep trying to find healthy ways to deal with the confusion, stress, and sadness (ways that don’t involve eating rows of cookies or being mean to loved ones).  Instead, I’m talking through stuff in therapy, carving out time for walks in nature & meditation sessions, trying to be truly in the moment with Miss M and appreciative of our time together and my time here on earth.

I’ve been allowing the sadness and feeling the depression.  Now I want to pull myself out.

Baby steps.  Just gotta take baby steps.  One step at a time.  Keep moving forward.  And trust that eventually I will pull myself out and make it to a better place.

Peace and love to all.  – T

Bowling fun with our best buds

Enjoying a beautiful fall day with Miss M

35 Responses

  1. Dear Teri,
    Your writing touches me so deeply, to hear your exhaustion and longing for ease and rest from all of the burdens. To just touch that inner peace and lightness………to be free from the sadness and madness and powerles ness

    I’m thinking of norman, who once said about sadness, how could we not feel sad in the face of all of this suffering……how could we not….why wouldn’t we cry at the end of each day, at the ending of each day……

    so maybe the baby steps you talk about are our steps toward the baby of sadness, the baby of exhaustion, the baby of confusion and overwhelm, to hold that baby with loving arms and gentleness and to rock her and give her love, just love……..to all of our babies

    A bath of love and empathy and compassion and self care and care… , I’d love for you to come up to Woodstock to me and Eryka for baby bath time-any time.

    with love and care, Roberta

    • Thank you Roberta. Norman always has some really great words of wisdom. As do you. I would LOVE to come upstate & relax amongst nature with you & Eryka sometime. With all my trips to NY I should be able to make it happen. Thanks for the invite & the kind words. Loving hugs, – T

  2. Good to hear from you again! Not meaning to lecture in anyway but – Congratulate yourself on all you are doing and have done so far. Trust that the decisions you are making are the right ones. As a mom to a 3 year old being unruly and emotional seem to be part of the territory! Wishing you lots of energy and good health. Vera (the John O’ Donohue Fan)

    • It’s so reassuring to hear other moms speak of their unruly toddlers & preschoolers and know that I am not alone. They’re adorable beyond words at this age but also emotional monsters sometimes. Thanks for the reassurance. And thanks again for the John O’Donohue verses. I still keep them on my meditation table & refer to it often. Sending good energy back at ya. – T

  3. Dear Terri, I am one of the gals from your dear Dads group and I worry about you all the time checking each day for an update. Thru your Dad and your blog I feel that I have come to know you and I hold a special spot in my heart for you. Try and take care of yourself and each other and look after Pa cause he sure is a wonderful fellow. Lots of love and warm hugs to you my Dear, Love Kathy

    • Thanks Kathy. I’m bummed we all didn’t get the chance to meet when I was on Bowen in August. Your group has meant a lot to my dad and helped carry him through a very difficult time. Thanks for being there for each other. And next time I’m out West we will for sure plan a visit. Hugs, -T

  4. Many years ago someone said to me, “You know, it’s actually ok to be unhappy.” In a weird way, that is really a very profound statement. I’m not really sure I can adequately put into words what that means. Obviously it goes without saying that we don’t want to be depressed or sad, that it is infinitely better to be happy. Yet, I think we sometimes forget that it is not wrong or improper to be unhappy. There are times in life when we really are supposed to be sad. Somehow this has become a bad thing. We all aggressively struggle to keep a happy face and to be cheerful through it all. Is that the right thing to do? Perhaps not. Sometimes, indeed we can help turn a situation around with a positive outlook. On the other hand, sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to acknowledge that there is some heavy s*** going down and allow the emotions to flow. For awhile anyway.
    You are not, by a long stretch, a person who is likely to wallow or get lost in self pity. You will come out the other side of this. You have had an unimaginably enormous amount on your plate over the past few years, some of it fabulous and some utterly horrendous. I think Roberta and I are saying the same thing with different words. The sadness is there for a reason.
    The fact that you have acknowledged it likely means that it will be on its way soon.

    Wishing you much love and that the easier times may come soon.

  5. Teri…all I can say is…it’s okay. It’s okay to want to put it aside for an hour…a day…a week…you don’t have to be so vigilant all of the time. You can take a rest…a break…a breath and let someone else do the worrying for a little while. You can let the research go for a day or two, put the decisions on hold…temporarily…it’s okay.

    You can be angry…sad…an un-perfect Mom just this once, you don’t have to have all of the answers all of the time…just breathe. Somewhere inside of you all of the answers are waiting for the right time…you’ll know what to do when it’s time to do it. Meantime…let it go, leave it with Someone else for now…it will wait.

    • Brilliant! And yet, so difficult to put in practice (at least for me). But i’m working on it. And talking about it in therapy. And trying to remind myself every day that it’s ok to rest and be un-perfect and let “it” go. Thanks for your insights and reminders Annette. -T

  6. Dear Terri,

    Please don’t worry about writing here, or keeping “X”, “Y”, or even “Zed” informed of the very latest. Expressions of concern are just that. They aren’t demands for yet another beautifully-written essay, or any other potential drains on your precious time and energy. Write when you feel like it, when it helps, or when you just *have* to.

    Thank you for the beautiful photos. Of course ANY picture featuring Marisa will beat out any other picture on the planet, so I’m happy indeed not to have to rank the three, since Marisa is in all of them. But I will grudgingly admit that the first one is my favourite of this batch — if only for the expression on her face… How I wish I’d been a fly on the wall for that particular jam-session — it must have been a doozy!… No matter — I can hear it in my imagination already, and that more than suffices.

    Much love to you, and Marisa, and Heron, and Auntie L., your large and loving family… and, yes, also to the gentleman in the sky-blue bandana and matching sweatshirt. — John

  7. Terri,

    It’s healthy and good to express feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, anxiety, instead of letting them bubble and boil inside you. Remember you are on a path. Delight and embrace the moment. Feel the breeze, the crunch of the leaves, the hugs and love of those around you. And remember the great influence you have on people you will never meet (like me) by sharing your story. Love & Peace..Cheryl

  8. John really says it for me, too. I hear you, Terri. I know how hard it is when every moment is a choice, and the choices all seem so impossibly critical. Because so many of my family and friends are involved in the medical world, many understand when I say, “It’s all triage, all the time.” And it really, really sucks! And I don’t have a child to raise at the same time.

    For me, the only hope is to keep trying to focus on the good, the pleasant, the beauty around me, the support and love of those dear to me. I know how easy that is – NOT!!! It doesn’t always help that sadness, depression, anger and frustration are natural… so is pain; we don’t have to like it ;-). I actually have brain lesions that cause nightmares when I sleep, relentlessly negative thoughts while awake.

    So I make lists – of things that delight me, things I’m proud of, lovely things. My antidote lists :-). Hokey and simplistic, but (embarrassingly) it does work for me. My sister-in-law took a little packet of poloroids with her to the hospital when she went into labor with her third child – to remind her, during the worst of it, how much it would be worth.

    You do not have to be perfect every moment. Disaster will *not* rain down on you if you “fail.” You’re already trying as hard as you can, and you can already see the benefits.

    • OMG! I LOVE the idea of the antidote list! What a fantastic idea. I am so copying that. Will take some time this week to start my own list and keep it with me always. Sorry to hear about the brain lesions. I can’t imagine the toll on your body that the endless nightmares must take. Let alone the daily struggle with constant negative thoughts. When I spoke to my hubby about my feelings of depression, he said, “Welcome to my world”. He’s been mired in depressive and negative thoughts since he was a kid. I can’t even imagine.
      Sending you wishes for silly days and happy thoughts & maybe even a few good nights of sleep. Luv, -T

  9. Good morning from the now-former Onc nurse! Of all these feelings of which you write … a) these are normal, b) the only not-normal thing about these is how long it took you to puke ’em out on paper, c) these feelings are ALL — every last mother-loving one of ’em, ALL — perfectly normal. You’re not pathological. This is really normal (and actually excellent) processing.

    Decisions about implants can be made next week-month-year. Set those aside.

    Jumping in piles of leaves can only be done NOW! Enjoy some fun and silly time with spouse and child — you’ve all more than earned it. One other really good part about Ohio in the fall is apple farms, affy tapples (that was the Chicago name … what do they call them here … caramel apples, maybe?), and sipping hot cider by a roaring fireplace while admiring the leaves. Pumpkin hunting. Tis the season for the really simple pleasures. If I may suggest you turn your attention to those for a few days or a week — the big stuff will still be there when you return to it, but the leaves are only glorious for a few days or weeks. Enjoy the now!

    Hugs from the cheering gallering — Dana

    • Thanks Dana. Your words have been popping up in my head constantly the last few days. It’s been warm and beautiful here in Ohio. And ‘m making an effort to truly enjoy the season – just as you suggested. Just this morning I went for a nice walk in the woods while Miss M was in preschool and made sure to take it all in – the colours, the sky, the birds, the clouds, the wind, the crunch of leave beneath my feet. Thanks so much for the reminder. Hugs right back at ya, -T

  10. Please call me.. You have nothing to lose.. Jodi Stage 4 With a 10 year old facing surgery Had 20 surgeries prior Walked 7 miles in NYC Atrides Cried Lauged Danced Please call me 203 313 8824 Jodi xo Sent from my iPhone

  11. Of course you are sad and depressed and frustrated and tired. Anybody would be in your situation. As others have said, it’s normal. While I check your blog every day, there are no expectations. You are on a tough journey. There will be bright spots among the dark. Love the pictures of your dad and daughter. *hugs*

  12. Hang in there “T”. Whether you know it or not I’m sure you’re an inspiration to those women going through the same journey. Through your posts they know they’re not alone in their fears, thoughts & concerns. God Bless.

  13. I love your next-to-last statement – “Now I want to pull out”. Here is another newbie stranger who wants to just give you a digital hug. You’re awesome. I feel you, your pain, your struggle, your loss, and at the same time I am so very glad to hear you say you are ready to be done with this part and move on to the next healing. Go Warrior Woman! It is perfect you are doing all that great stuff. The walks, the time with your girly, the sharing with us and others. I would not even compare my own health challenges, other than to say I understand all too well the depression, the exhaustion, the too-energetic kids you’d rather be playing with, the many many many demands, but especially the decision to do the work and Pull Out of It. Not easy, but worth it. Sometimes it seems that while these things feel good to do, and do help enormously, it can be astoundingly hard to actually do them. Take the Time, it’s yours, and it certainly isn’t wasted – ever. You also have an amazing Family here. The support, comfort and love expressed here on your blog here is incredibly wonderful and to be truly treasured. I send all the (((++++))) I have your way, as well as any friend who is feeling the need for a good read. Keep Fighting the Good Fight Warrior Woman!

    • So true. So true. Especially, the amazing “family” we have here on the blog. The outpouring of kindness and support warms my heart and reminds me of all the goodness that is out there. And thanks for the reminder that the time I take for myself is not wasted. That is a lesson I know intellectually – but still have a difficult time owning. Again, I’m working through it in therapy.
      Thanks for the positivity and encouragement. Sending positive energy back at ya… -T

  14. And yet ANOTHER stranger wishing you well!! Remember that it’s ok to grieve – that’s the first step in healing. Glad to hear your dad is getting looked after so well.

  15. Thinking of you Terri! In a very selfish way, your blog has reminded me today to be thankful for having things to worry about like whats for dinner or what to wear. Seek solace in all the people that love and care for you and know that there is no scuch thing as a perfect parent or person. You can only be the best Terri you can and right now, you are :) Sending Love and Prayers to you and your family

    • That’s great Nicole! I want people to appreciate the small worries, the normal days, and seemingly trivial matters of life. I know I didn’t appreciate them as much before as I do now. And you’re so right about there being no such thing as a perfect parent or person. I think I need to make that one of my new mantras. Imperfection is normal. Sending love back to you & your family. – T

  16. I went through many, many surgeries. It takes general anesthesia up to 6 weeks to work out of your system. If you have been feeling down after surgery you might still be drugged. It will get better. You are doing great giving time, time. Keep on, keeping on.

  17. Terri, just reading your blogs, lashing out, wishing for the “normal” worries, sad, frustrated, angry and confused about the reconstruction…that is to be expected. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t feel all those things in your situation. I know you’ve been told over and over that you are such an inspiration, and I’ll say it again, you truly are!! Today i am 4 years free, with Stage 3 breast cancer. I only had a a single mastectomy and still wonder,. to this day if I should’ve had both removed. It’s a decision only you can make with the information given to you by your doctors. Hang in there, and know that I (a complete stranger) have you in my thoughts and prayers daily. Regina

    • Hooray for you! 4 years cancer free! You’re right, this is a path full of difficult decisions, that’s for sure. Hope you continue to do well and make decisions that feel right to you. Lots of love, – T

  18. “Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
    ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

  19. “How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

    So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”
    ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet ….PART ONE

    • Thanks Deborah. I spent some time going through your blog this weekend and absolutely LOVE it. Your writing is beautiful and your sentiments are so bang on. And I found so much positivity and inspiration contained in your posts. I subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more. So glad our mutual friend connected the two of us :-) Take care of yourself. – Terri

  20. The title you chose is wonderful – sometimes a person is stuck in sadness, and they need to be pulled out. In normal circumstances, when sadness has taken over, normal routine might be enough. But sometimes one needs to climb out because the routine might cause you to drop slowly, or just stay still.

    I’m really glad that you could make *your* choice about your breasts. It’s a good sign, I think… to decide what you want, and how you want it, and make choices that fit you.

    And one thing that I might mention: new normals seems scary, but they often seem scary because they’re still so new. Some of what’s scary is the newness and lack of information, and how they’re all sticking in one’s mind at the time. In time, they will get better and easier, once you’ve assimilated the new information, and found new patterns.

    Yes, it will always be bad that you’ll have to worry about things you could have blown off at one point. But brains adapt to those risks… when they’re new, they seem like “how could anyone handle that much stress?” but the stress drops off with a combination of understanding and acceptance.

    (Dropping off several virtual hug offers, here – I’ve been following, but too tired/depressed to answer. New ADs + possible fatigue cure has me doing better now.)

    • As always, pearls of wisdom from the Long Haired Weirdo. Sorry to hear about the exhaustion and depression. Hoping the new meds and other solutions help give you the energy and lift you need to pull yourself up and enjoy life. Hugs, – T

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