Breathless

I stood in the store aisle

Pondering which holiday tablecloth piqued my interest the most–

Red with white snowflakes,

White with silver trees,

Or the rustic reindeer.

My hands fumbled,

Attempting to match fabric napkins

With each design.

People came and went,

Bumping into my cart,

As I still contemplated.

On one such occasion,

I managed to drop some of the tablecloths,

And bending down–

a little too quickly perhaps

My body protested the sudden movement

And pain seared throughout

Leaving me teary-eyed,

Winded,

Dizzy,

Breathless.

Today

When your reality turns out to be fantasy, mind tricks if you will, it can be an earth-shattering, scary thing.

I suspected that the fleeting shadows were figments of my imagination. Sometimes you look from the left to the right too quickly and you think you see something that in reality isn’t there at all. So I ignored them. But today, there was no ignoring you.

I heard the dishes first, early this morning. I knew Mosha wasn’t home, and it piqued my interest enough that I roused from bed and headed to the kitchen–the very empty kitchen. It’s damning because I know what I heard, but I also know what I saw, and they were two very contradicting things. I blamed lack of sleep and new medications as I meandered back to my bed.

I spent time messaging B, and in the midst of that, you appeared, walking alongside my bed, bringing me soup, chastising me for not taking care of myself. Who are you? I had never seen you before today. I didn’t have any sense of familiarity. Just as I began to sit up, you were gone, as quickly as you appeared. Yet you were so very real.

The next logical step would have been to get ahold of my oncologist, to raise the alarm to my medical team, but instead I retreated because of fear and unfamiliarity. I forced myself to sleep, a sleep from which I didn’t wake up from until late evening. Since I woke up, I’ve had a tingling sensation across my head (this is not new, but it has been a while since I’ve experienced it). I ate, plopped on the couch until now, desperately trying to distract myself from today’s happenings. Were they imagined? All evidence points to yes.

After a little prying, Mosha got it out of me, and we decided that first thing, I need to call my medical team. I’m not fearful in the sense that I feel there is a demonic presence in our home, and I don’t believe in ghosts, so that’s not it either. No, I am fairly certain that this is directly related to Lyle or the medications somehow. Best to deal with it sooner rather than later because I can’t imagine living life the way I had to live it today. It isn’t living at all.

Doors.

Doors. I never knew how scary they could be.

I’m currently sitting in a small medical office, waiting for my doctor to knock on the door before he enters to go over my lab results — results that I already know aren’t positive. I’m not being pessimistic. If you pay attention to your body, you’ll know when things aren’t right. My body has been screaming at me for a long time now, but the cancer had always overridden the diabetes and fibromyalgia. But, as Dr. S. said last week, “it’s time.” Time to get it all under control. Time to stop neglecting the rest of my problems in lieu of the greater ones.

I can hear voices outside the door: other patients and medical staff. Focusing on them does little to calm my anxiety. I don’t want to be here. I want to walk out of the door and not come back. But that would be the irresponsible thing to do. The adult and rational part of me knows that I have to stay. I have to wait for that inevitable knock and the news that is to follow.

Anhedonia

Arguably some of the most touchy subjects to tackle from a Christian perspective are depression and anxiety. It’s bad enough that depression and anxiety are in and of themselves complex illnesses, but there are varying perspectives within the church about them. Sometimes some of these views are from people who try to genuinely understand depression from a biblical perspective, while other people just have incorrect information regarding mental illnesses. However, in my experience, there are things that even the most well-meaning Christians get wrong.

Basically, depression is not what the church can sometimes make it out to be.

Recently, I’ve learned that depression and anxiety are not character defects, spiritual disorders or emotional dysfunctions, and even more importantly, they are not a choice. Mental illness is just as important as physical illness, and asking someone to try not being depressed is like asking a wounded person not to bleed. But yet so many Christians are so quick to express their opinions and judgments, and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “if only you had enough faith.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I of course believe that God is all-powerful, and yes, it is important to pray, have faith and believe that we can be healed because His Word says that we can be. Faith in His ability to heal is tremendously important, and it does help to ease the burden of depression and anxiety. But again, to deny someone medical care for mental illness is not any different from denying medical care to a physically ill person. The only difference between mental illness and physical illness is that we cannot visibly see mental illness in most cases.

I do also believe that there is a spiritual element to depression, but medical science has also proven that major depressive disorder is real and has many causes.

I have only recently come to accept my own depression and anxiety, and I’ve begun to seek treatment for both, both medically and spiritually. I have only opened up to a few people at this point, mainly because of the responses that I’m sure will inevitable occur, such as:

  • “But you look so good!”
  • “You always seem so happy!”
  • “You have so much faith!”

I have learned that many depressed people like myself are extremely good at hiding their symptoms because of the stigma that is associated with mental illness. Many churches don’t even address mental illness, which only gives us as believers who are going through depression/anxiety even more incentive to hide it. Also, as a good friend of mine said to me the other day, depression isn’t always about “feeling sad.” It can manifest in many ways such as apathy, lethargy, low self-esteem, guilt, fatigue, crying spells, or even difficulty making decisions.

So, I think it is important for us as believers (and non-believers alike) and as people to begin to show more compassion to those around us who might be suffering. Screw the stigma. Let us be people who are willing to offer support and encouragement rather than condemning them or passing judgment on their level of faith. Remember that our God is mighty, and His ability to heal is NOT determined by us, our actions, or lack of faith.

Radiotherapy, Day One

Today was day one of radiotherapy. For those of you who don’t know, radiotherapy uses radiation, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams or protons, to kill or damage cancer cells and stop them from growing/multiplying. It’s a localized treatment, so it only affects the area where they direct the radiation. Unfortunately for me, the leukemia is so widespread and near so many of my vital organs that directing the rays can get difficult. You definitely don’t want the rays to hit your kidneys or liver or other important organs.

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Even tough people crack

Everyone has an idea of what makes them them, and for me, I have always been someone who likes to think of themselves as strong. When faced with adversity, I choose to state at it emotionless, in the face. Sure, I might be terrified, but I don’t like to show it. I feel the need to be “strong” despite however I might feel inside. But sometimes, I don’t have the energy to be strong.

Plans & Pneumonia

Hello people!

It’s been a hectic few days. I worked most of Friday, and my last two appointments were for Nay Nay & Lee Lee, so after we finished they treated me to dinner at Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe. I was looking forward to our dinner all week because I am currently obsessed with their Chicken Katsu and Potstickers. Dinner was worth the wait because the food was delicious as usual. On our way home we stopped at Zia Records, and I purchased a pack of coloring postcards (Daydreams by Hanna Karlzon), a Color-In’ Book — Retro Summer, as well as a TMNT toy for Andrew. I crashed shortly after getting home as I was tired and not feeling too great.

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