With Love – Entry Twelve

anxiety after young adult cancer

I have come to the realization that I’m completely alone. Not so much physically but emotionally. Does that make sense? I felt like this often growing up. Outnumbered, comes to mind. My parents had each other, as did my brothers, I always felt out of place. Odd man out.

Today, my husband tried to set me up on a play date. It sounds extremely inappropriate except it’s not, it’s pathetic. Lately, I’ve been depressed. He can see it, I can feel it and we’re both pretty tired of it.

I’m at a point in my life where I am healthy and thriving, medically speaking. Especially considering the last few months. So, why don’t I feel relief? I should be thrilled but I’m not.

I became emotional a few days ago, I cried and pouted and told my husband how crazy I felt but that maybe all I needed was a break. Almost instantly I thought, “How selfish of you Jeanette. The kids are your life, you love and cherish them. You shouldn’t need a break!” Still there I was at the kitchen table, distraught and confused at my own emotions. Staring, with eyes burning at my husband, who was busy making plans to fish. Myself, jealous at his unwavering dedication to the sport (if you can call it that).

“This is what we’ll do” he says, “I’ll call my friend and see what his wife is doing this weekend. You and her can hang out while him and I take the kids fishing.”

How do I tell him no? As much as I like her and I want a friend, how do I explain that I’m not ready? See, in my mind, all I can imagine happening… Is what happens with almost every other person I encounter. They ask how I’m doing? They ask what’s next? Am I in remission? They tell me how hard it must have been, how brave I am and they try extremely hard to sympathize.

Meanwhile, I just want to talk about Grays Anatomy and McDreamy! I want to talk about celebrities and their failed marriages. I’d love to have a glass of wine and talk parenting mishaps, like when I accidentally gave my kids the wrong lunch bags. I’d love to be invited over to talk marriage hardships and gossip, like normal women. I WANT to leave Cancer out of it!

My ideal “friend date” is a movie night in with candy, cheesecake and popcorn, because who says you can’t pair them. Giggles and laughter that bring tears to my eyes. Good food and great company. My family and theirs. I don’t do well in social situations, I’m extremely awkward. I can’t do it alone. He can’t just drop me somewhere and go. Not right now.

It would help, if I’d been invited at all and my husband hadn’t set me up. I’m the type of person who strongly dislikes invading ones space. While I want friends, I don’t want someone to be a friend because they feel sorry for me. Would it be horrible if right now I just said “I honestly don’t want friends, I’m simply not ready”?

I just want some time to pick up the pieces of my broken puzzle and put it back together. Patiently. I don’t want to feel pressure or stress. Most days, I don’t even want to leave the house. Maybe I just want to wallow.

Just give me a moment.

This piece was originally published here.

“I’ve done Cancer so why does this move seem so horrible?!”


Moving has been hard on me.  I miss my friends.  I miss being able to drive across town in 15 minutes no matter the time of day.  I miss being able to remember when is the best time to call friends in other places because I can’t seem to get the hang of my new time zone yet.  I miss my familiar coffee shop work spots and the people that I often met there.  Did I mention that I miss having a familiar work spot that isn’t in my own home?  While the move across the country has been exciting, its also not quite done yet and I’m dreading the return to Central Illinois (and my house there) where the last push of packing, lifting, sorting, purging, and more packing has to occur.  I’m also dreading the return to a very tiny apartment.  I’m also dreading leaving my wonderfully loving pups behind for that week of final move madness.

So yea, that’s a lot of negativity about a move, right?  I told someone on the phone recently, while crying and laughing at the same time, “I’ve done cancer.  Why does this move seem so horrible?!”  Cancer does not seem to have given me a “get out of all stressful life events” card.

Back to reality for a second:  My new city is awesome.  The weather is fabulous.  The lack of bugs flying through my windows at night had a great friend of mine ask if I lived in heaven.  I can walk to a downtown-ish, urban area in 1 minute and to a recreation area full of great hiking in 10.  I’m sure I will find new friends who love all of these things about my new city as much as I do…but until then we’ll talk about how things are hard sometimes.

Sometimes I look at stressful things happening in my life and I’m able to reality check them.  I’m able to step back, look at what is happening, and realize that everything, is in fact, okay.  Sometimes that isn’t a viable option right that second.  Sometimes, I need to accept that something is happening to me and it is hard.  I am an anxious person.  Moving to a new place, bringing my pups along with me, and then needing to leave them alone in a new apartment for a few hours at a time has been enough to recreate my desire to be a shut-in.

Slowly by surely I’ve been taking baby self-care steps to react to what is happening around me…

The space where I wanted to work isn’t going to happen as soon as I thought.
I made myself a working area at home.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed and like I can’t start anything.
I’ve started letting my mornings have more down time to them.  I spend a little while in bed, reading a good book and snuggling with my two pups.  After about an hour or 2 of this I have found that I’m energized and ready to walk the 10 feet to my desk and start working.  This has drastically reduced the amount of time I waste in an attempt to get to work, all the while shaming myself for not working yet.  I give myself some me time and then, I work.

Worried about boarding the dogs while I’m finalizing the move.  Worried that this boarding place walks the dogs outside and my dogs are not always the most polite walkers.
I researched dog boarding places a TON.  I’ve been walking around the neighborhood with the pups everyday and realizing that other people have walked my dogs and that it has been ok.

Worried about leaving my dogs to run errands, work outside the apartment, or have fun away from home.
My husband and I installed a dropcam that lets me check in on the dogs when I am away.  I have been keeping the apartment clean and tidy which minimizes my worries that the pups will get into something they shouldn’t.

A very wise therapist once told me that every time I am worried or anxious about a what if situation, I should go ahead and answer myself.  In this case, I’ve taken the situations I’m worried about and have validated the steps that I have taken to help minimize my own stress and to minimize the potential for things to “go wrong.”

Full disclosure:  Each one of these self-care steps that I have developed, took time to figure out and strategize.  Before realizing that giving myself some reading time in the morning helped me actually get to work and be far more productive, I spent several days beating myself up emotionally about how I couldn’t seem to get anything done.  I’m also still nervous about leaving my dogs…but I simultaneously realize that I love to travel and will eventually sort this out.  These self-care steps have worked for me but effort and at least some patience went into them.  Learning to take care of yourself will take time and patience…you can do it!  (I always loved when my mom played cheerleader and would say things like that to me!)

Moving isn’t the end of the world but building on an already anxious psyche has felt extremely uncomfortable.  Taking steps to take care of myself, figuring out what I need and what can wait, has been crucial.

How do you take steps to take care?  How do you self-care in the midst of life changes?  How do you avoid shaming yourself because things “should” feel easier after young adult cancer?