Why Are You So Paranoid?
(Cue this song)
It is your average Monday morning. I woke up this morning feeling good. Physically. Or wait, did I? My back hurt a little bit. What does that mean? Nothing. I’m sure of it. Or am I?
I make coffee. I greet my parents who are kind enough to be taking our dog back to Cleveland so that Steve and I can go to South Africa for 2 weeks. We won’t worry about her there. Well, I’m sure I will find something to worry about. I always do.
Am I losing weight? I feel thinner. I wonder what that means. Nothing. I’m sure of it. Or am I?
This is how my brain works now. I guess it always has, but now it just moves faster. Like the screens on the subway telling you what stop you’re at, except the stops are fears. I can’t stop it. It just keeps going. And going. And going.
I have been avoiding writing this piece. I don’t want to beat a dead horse. The reality is, that is what survivorship is. A dead fucking horse. Just when you have reasoned yourself out of your latest fear, a new one sneaks in. And so the process starts over.
I should be happy I’m alive right? Wrong. Sometimes it would be just easier if I had died last year. Before you start reaching out to me with your favorite mental health quotes, I’m ok. I am. Even when I’m not, I’m ok. Ask anyone that has had cancer or chronic illness, and they will tell you that your fears and uncertainties can be a fate worse than death.
So I go back to being grateful. Grateful for life. I’m on the subway now. I’m staring at the stops on the screen. I’m listening to 311. I always listen to 311 when I’m anxious. I know right? Random. I’m writing this piece, and I’m crying. It isn’t sunny outside, so my emotional armor, also known as sunglasses won’t work. I’m just gonna own it.
I revert back to happy thoughts. We are going on our dream safari trip in 2 DAYS. We have earned this. At least that’s what people keep saying. And we have. This trip serves as so much more for me than just going on safari and relaxing. I have big goals for myself. I’m hoping to let go of a lot on this trip. To be free. Of cancer. Of worry. Of wondering if that one sip of wine is now a massive growing tumor.
My back hurts again.
I’m crying again.
I know I’m not alone here. I know that. In fact, survivorship is something that often goes by the wayside. We don’t talk about it enough. A few weeks back I sent out some questions to my community about this very topic. All different ages and stages and situations. In the coming weeks I will be sharing their stories of survivorship with you. I want to try and take the shame out of these conversations. Somewhere along the way, this became cathartic for me. My friends often ask me how I’m feeling and they are always trying to understand. I’m hoping this helps. So look out for those stories. Ask questions.
I’m feeling better now. I don’t have a crystal ball. Today I’m fine. That’s all I know. I’m trying very hard to be patient with myself. Post cancer Tiffany is a work in progress. I respect her. I admire her.
The fact is, “How are you?” will always be a loaded question. For the rest of my fucking life. I am making peace with that now. That’s all we can do.