Clearing the Decks

Interregnum, day 19. It’s only three days past Christmas, and I’m totally over it. I’m taking advantage of having the house to myself today to take down all of the decorations except for the tree. I’ll hold off on that until tomorrow. It’s not that I have anything against Christmas — ours was pleasant and low-key with only our daughter at home — it’s just that I am totally over this past year and I want to move on.

The year started with intense job stress and health worries that weren’t about cancer, forcing me to think about retirement from that job a bit sooner than I had planned. My cancer diagnosis came as I was winding down my work from full-time to part-time in preparation for my retirement, and you know the rest. As sucky years go, this one takes the cake, and I am very ready for it to be over.

Even though there are a lot of unknowns as I look forward to 2019, and the year will kick off with six weeks of radiation, I’m ready to move forward. The sooner I start, the sooner radiation will be over, and while it’s very hard to plan what comes after that (other than long-term cancer meds) since I don’t know how I’ll feel or what my energy level will be, it will be far better than the limbo I’ve been in.

The last few weeks of limbo have been very hard and I got very depressed, scarily so. To the point where I wondered if all this was worth it and feeling like I had nothing to look forward to. I haven’t been that depressed since I was in my 20s. Thankfully, I made an appointment with my therapist for a check-in yesterday and it served as excellent validation that what I’ve gone through in the past six months (most of that alone) is depressing, and if it didn’t get to me, it would be surprising. I asked about antidepressants, something I’ve never taken, and the pros and cons of that approach. Right now the cons are outweighing the pros, and it seems to be helping just to talk about it and have a really good cry.

I also reminded myself that I tend to be someone who is great in a crisis; I don’t let myself fall apart until afterwards. The “crisis” in this case was my diagnosis, surgeries, and chemo — and more or less, I held it together, knowing I had to power through. Then I had a few weeks of no treatment where I thought about what I’d been through, what I still had to go through, and where I worried about what my new future might or might not hold. No wonder I got depressed.

But today seems to be a better day. I feel more or less ready to tackle the next phase of treatment on Monday, and I have a plan for getting exercise and eating well to mitigate the side effects. I’m clearing the house of reminders of 2018, and making room both in my house and in my mind for a more positive 2019. May it be the year I start to get my life back.

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