Can I Please Be Allowed To Have Hard Days After Cancer?
Every so often I have a day where I'm just inexplicably sad. They definitely don't come anywhere near as often as they used to, but we all have them sometimes. It doesn't usually stem from my health history at this point, but it somehow always comes back to it.
I hate what ifs, but when I'm feeling down about relationships or job stuff it's easy to get angry again at the big C. What if I hadn't gotten sick? What if I didn't have to be inpatient for most of a year? Would I have a big career now? Would I be in a relationship or at least not scared of them? Would I not have gained so much weight and had trouble losing it? Would I not have had to let friends go by seeing the real side of them?
These are the what ifs that cycle through my head not as frequently anymore, but they're still there when I least expect them. They happen when I find myself slipping and comparing myself to others who didn’t have cancer. It's a cycle because I know there's nothing I can do to change the past and I hate looking back. I have spent a long time accepting it and trying to look forward. Then I just get angry with myself for feeling this way and there's the cycle.
Besides the what ifs, there are the sure things that are even harder to deal with like my self-esteem that I had to build up from the floor after losing my hair and gaining weight. The things that I have worked so hard on and yet still I struggle with daily. It is easy to get frustrated with those when I am feeling sad even though I know I have come so far. In those times I need to actually look back so I can see proof of how far I have come. Also, doctor's appointments and the like can stir up these feelings too; even something like trying to find the time to fit these in.
In the past these feelings of sadness or hopelessness were scary and overwhelming and I felt like I was drowning. I now know that the feeling passes and I will be feeling grateful again the next day, but it just sucks being in it and being sad. Not to downplay that because it took years and a lot of work (and some medicine) to get there.
It's especially difficult and hard to even explain why I am sad. I usually feel guilty when I am having a bad day because I feel like I am obligated to always be happy because I survived while others didn't. I am supposed to appreciate the little things which I usually do, but some days I just can't. I want to have the freedom to have my hard days as much as anyone else.
Do you ever feel bad about experiencing bad days after cancer? Why or why not? Share in the comments below and sign up here.
Melissa is a survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and is currently 6 years cancer free. She lives in New York City and is constantly searching for the "new normal" and the best ice cream.