Tag Archives: emotions

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Today is an incredible guest post from my soul-sister Amy Sandvos.  I have shared Nolan's story with you before but if you're new you can read it here. Amy has graciously shared her thoughts and personal battles with us and I feel so blessed to know such a strong, honest soul. 

I'm here coming from the perspective of the caregiver. We had a 3 year battle with cancer, which my son Nolan won last April!

So, you get your diagnosis. Cry. Pray. ( Try and make your deal with God.) Go online. Mistake. Go offline. Pray. (Give God your newest proposal.) Listen to everyone's theory on "why". Then forget everything they just said, because 90% of it is crap. Cry some more.

For me, shock turned me into a machine. Fight or flight right? I'm not sure if I was fighting or trying to fly away into an alternate reality. The one where there are bluebirds and rainbows and babies do not get cancer. I was go go go all the time, at the births of new babies, blood draws, birthday parties, IV chemo, play dates and spinal taps.

Then, everything slowed way down. Shock began to fade. Exhaustion. So exhausted, and there was still so far to go. Depression. Asking myself, "Is this what depression feels like?" Despair, self pity and sadness settled in. "What do I do with all of this?" I didn't know what to do, so I did what any exhausted sad person would do, I stuffed it all away because I couldn't handle it.

Que chest pains.

Hello anxiety. That's the thing about emotions locked away in a hidden cupboard behind your boxed up secret love of Katy Perry. They'll remind you that they are there, and they want out. They will scream and yell and make a scene until you embrace their ugly little faces, and stare into their eyes.

What did I do to cope? What I loved, what saved my sanity... a little class at the gym called XBike. Dark room, music pumping. Lungs burning, legs screaming. Mind racing. Then, things start to focus, emotions bubble to the surface, things line up. Endorphins kick in and do their job. The gym became my therapist, my medication, my escape.

What should I have done differently? I should have taken the time, that good 10% of advice, and found someone to talk to. A PROFESSIONAL. I made excuses, valid excuses. "it's too expensive, I'm not ready, I don't think I have the time". I'm pretty sure I was just scared. Scared of the pain that sifting through all the emotions would unearth.

I had to make the choice to save myself.

I had to unlock the cupboard and let those little uglies out, stretch their legs, then we cozied up for a nice long chat. I don't lock them away anymore and they come to visit often. When I look into their eyes, I'm no longer scared.

Carey again: If you find yourself in need of counseling your medical professional can direct you to a licensed therapist.  If you cannot afford therapy many churches (such as my church Bayside) offer reduced rate or even free counseling for those in need.  If you are in the Sacramento/Roseville area and are a cancer patient or family member of a cancer patient Amy recommends Wellness Within.

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When you've been sick or in pain for long periods of time your emotions become a tad unreliable. Something that wouldn't have bothered you back in your "healthy days" may send you over the edge now. You are more inclined to be hurt or offended by people, whether they have bad intentions or not, whether they actually did something wrong or not.

You can easily become overly sensitive to emotionally charged situations, especially if your condition effects your hormones.  Any hormones.

So it will be very important for you to learn to "check" yourself before responding to a person or situation you feel was unfair or offensive.  I'll use myself as an example:

I am normally a pretty unemotional person.  I don't have high-highs or low-lows, I usually maintain at a steady pace right in the middle somewhere.  That is until I started suffering from chronic illness.  Suddenly I found myself irritated and even angry at people or situations that normally I would have just shrugged off.  It took me a little while to catch on, but once I realized just how impatient and annoyed I had become I decided that I would have to run my grievances by one of my non-sick friends before I went out with my sword drawn.   Either that or let a few weeks pass by and see if it was just me letting my hormones get the best of me.

And on those days when I just cannot change my attitude, no way-no how, then I sequester myself away until it passes.  Just because I feel something doesn't make it right.  Or real for that matter.

At the end of the Hunger Games Trilogy Peeta has traumatic, reoccurring dreams or memories and he has to stop and ask his friends, "Real or not real?"  I find myself asking that question before I take up an argument, "Real or not real?" It has saved me a lot of apologizing.

When you find yourself getting all worked up, especially during a "bad spell", take a deep breath then let it out slowly, and make sure it's a real emotion and not just the pain or sickness talking.  Your friends and family will appreciate it!