Joey and Rory. Such Sadness.

I probably won’t sleep tonight. So much anxiety. I saw the picture of Joey in her hospital gown, holding her baby. Cancer is awful. It’s vicious. What it does to a body is…I don’t have the words. Seeing pictures of Joey, how thin and frail she is, I was taken back to my time with Vanessa. she looks so much like her in this condition. She has the same form of cancer; cervical cancer. The protruding clavicle, the neck so thin the bones almost stand out, arms as thin as a child’s. I remember.

Vanessa eventually accepted what was happening to her body. She refused chemo. She saw what it did to Rita, and the pain she saw Rita experience was just unbearable. She asked me just not let her suffer. I was sure to administer her meds on time. I didn’t want her to suffer. I think she feared the pain more than she feared death.

Joey is young, talented and beautiful. It breaks my heart that this monster of a disease has her in its death grip, and there’s nothing that can be done. All the more heartbreaking that she has to say goodbye to a baby. My heart breaks for that family. I know what they’re going through.

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Anxiety and Depression- Reblog

A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker. And sometimes, silenced completely.

It is not your fault these things happened. And if you hear the tales of what they were, you will likely hold an opinion in your head of what could have been done or said as a result to resolve the issue. But your experience in this life is not the same as mine, Friend. No matter what we have in common, we can never share the exact same perception. Please make sure not to confuse your perception with mine. We are different.

Sometimes I need a break from people. Usually the people who I don’t yet know completely, but like, and with whom I want to hold some kind of friendship. I’m already tired of feeling anxious and sad and don’t want you to grow tired of me feeling anxious and sad. I’m sure you care and would be happy for me to confide in you, but I’ve confided in friends before and been burned and heartbroken in return. I can’t bring myself to take that kind of risk again.

I’m afraid I won’t be good company. I’m afraid I’ll burden you with my emotions which I don’t feel would be fair on you. I have heard of your struggles too, Friend, and would like to help you, but I can’t. I take all struggles as if they were my own and my load is already far too heavy. Sometimes my whole world is devoid of any good news, and any conversation we could have would be very quiet on my behalf. All I can really do is listen, because if I speak I might burst into tears. But I don’t feel strong enough to pretend to be holding myself together right now, so I’d just rather not.

I’m sorry you feel I’ve been avoiding you. You see me comment on social media but I ignore your messages. This is because commenting on social media is usually not personal. It’s a distraction. It’s a way to have adult conversation without the spotlight being on me. I can do it in my pyjamas without having done my face to look like I’m prettier than I feel on the inside. I don’t run much risk of having to answer the question “How are you?”

…because I don’t want to lie to you. That would make me feel anxious when I’m already feeling anxious. I don’t believe in lying to people, especially people I care about. So for that reason, I can’t run the risk of being asked this question.

You may see me posting an update about a group I went to, or am going to go to. Maybe inviting someone along. But I still haven’t answered your messages. This does not mean I’m feeling better and have purposely skipped you. This doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. My doctor told me to do things in the community so I don’t completely shut myself off. This is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get myself back into the habit of being seen in public for something other than to run a quick errand. I’m trying to quell the self-talk in my head that tells me everyone hates me and thinks I’m weird. Sometimes when I meet new people and they smile at me, I think that perhaps I’m not all that strange. “I can do this… I can do this…” I say to myself.

You see, Friend, with a head full of thoughts like mine, there is no invisible ticket machine. In a perfect world I would answer all messages and requests in order, and you’d be able to know when I’m going to call your number. But that’s not how this works. There is no ticket, no number, and if I can’t shut off the feelings inside me, I might never get to you. Or I could respond to you tomorrow. I really have no way of knowing.

To expect that I give you attention specifically is just unrealistic, and I’m sorry. I regret that the nature of this beast is not one where I can gain complete control whenever I want to, and give all the people all the attention they want or deserve. You may be lonely too, and I’m sorry. But I’m training myself to take care of myself and my needs, and to give myself all the attention I deserve, because that’s what is supposed to help me recover, or at least cope.

Part of the reason I got into this mess is because I put everyone else’s needs before mine. And they took, and took, and took some more until there was nothing left, because I was so willing to give. I regret being so naïve. I love to see people happy, but I forget that I need to be happy first. You might not be one of those people of whom I speak, but that’s unfortunately irrelevant. I can’t handle any of it yet.

Maybe we struck a friendship during a time when socialising wasn’t so daunting. Maybe you think it’s totally uncharacteristic of me to be silent and surely you must have caused offense. But Friend, understand that this condition is unpredictable and the best thing you can do is just wait.

There is no forcing a friendship with me. I need time. I’m grieving that part of me that no longer exists and that bright future I thought I was going to have.

As part of my anxious predicament I’m regretting so many things. Things that are long since dead and buried, things that happened yesterday… The way I reacted to something, the person I shouldn’t have trusted but did, the thing I said that surely must’ve made me look like an idiot. The fact that I feel this way in the first place. The fact that I can’t make it stop. The fact that I’m hurting my friends by accident by apparently turning my back on them. The fact that I don’t have the strength to be what my loved ones need any more. The fact that I can’t talk to you about this in person because it’s too hard. The fact that I can’t have friends because I can’t talk to my friends and therefore none of them can begin to understand why it’s hard for me to keep friends. The fact that I am so alone I don’t know when I’ll ever be less alone. The fact that there are people depending on me that deserve better than for me to be so afraid of so many things that I can hardly function.

I’m trying, Friend, and I’m so sorry if you’re hurt by me. If you want to walk away I understand, but please do not convey to me the disappointment that I’m not what you want me to be, because I’ve got enough disappointment in myself for the both of us. Just send me positive thoughts as much as you can spare in the hopes that maybe, one day, I’ll be on the other side of this, and I’ll be so grateful that you were so patient and understanding. When that day comes I will be able to call you a ‘Great Friend.’

Sincerely,

A Nervous Wreck

Alabama Shakes

They’ve been around for a few years now, but I heard the group Alabama Shakes for the first time just a couple days ago. Their video “Joe” was on the side bar on YouTube. The still photo of Brittany Howard caught my attention because she looks like she could be the sister of a friend of mine. I clicked on the video, the one where they appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show, and I was blown away. I heard rock, soul, reggae and gospel in one song.

What presence Howard has! I wish I had just one quarter of her confidence. I couldn’t stop watching her. She didn’t just sing, she PERFORMED. You could tell she had that audience in her palm that night!

Alabama Shakes are real people; real, beautiful people as opposed to a group that’s been packaged and corporatized by the entertainment industry. You can hear the freedom in their music.

I’ve seen some huge names perform in concert, but that video of Howard singing “Joe” was the best performance I’ve seen since I saw Luther Vandross perform live in the mid 90’s. Her musicians and back up singers are also incredibly talented. I couldn’t stop re-playing the video. It’s been a long time since music has been able to move me. With so much sadness lately, music just hasn’t been a priority for me. I think Alabama Shakes pulled me out of a slump. They’re touring now and I just wish them the best of everything!

Leaving the Church Without Leaving God

Worth a read.

The author’s experience with four different churches led him to boldly abandon the traditional social means of worship and as a result, he now enjoys a happier, more peaceful and more spiritually fulfilling relationship with God. In his role as minister, he continues to lead private bible study sessions, and to provide spiritual counseling to those who are burdened with the pressures and complexities of this life. Please follow him on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/maxwell_2304, and/or email him at lionofjudah2304@gmail.com.

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Cancer is Nothing to Smile About

The ad sprawled across the city bus showed a woman smiling. The bold caption read “My sister has cancer, but I don’t.” Taken at face value, I suppose somewhere in this cruel world a sister like that really exists; one who would thank her lucky stars that if cancer just had to strike, better her sister than her. I doubt, however, that one would be so callous as to advertise her elation on a 35 to 45 foot bus for the entire city to see. People aren’t generally that open about their darkness.

Whatever product the smiling woman was selling, the content of that bold captioned text and her happy face are sure to be at odds with the details in the fine print. A miracle cure? I doubt it. Edward Bernays might have thought this was ingenious, but all it did for me yesterday was make me feel sadder.

You see, today is the second anniversary of the death of my older sister, Vanessa. She died of cancer. I was her caretaker. The experience was unlike any other I have had, and this is true even though I had another sister who died of cancer in 1989. That smiling face on the city bus ad bothered me. My sister had cancer. I don’t. I can’t find anything in that sentence that makes me want to smile.