Depression was something I used to think I knew something about, but the reality is knowing about something is not the same as understanding. The deep, dark, irkiness some find swallowing them whole is still foreign to me. I pray for those who get trapped inside the torturous grasp because even the outskirts of depression is scary and lonely enough.
Navigating through cancer, surgery, treatment, remission, drugs, and everything else that comes along the way, I’ve realized how extremely naïve I was (and still am in many cases) regarding the whole “cancer journey”. If you’ve been on this road, are on this road, or will have to come down it some day during your lifetime, I’m sorry. I wish it could be blocked forever. No one should ever have to go through the physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial distress caused by cancer. Some days, I feel completely “normal” and my world outlook is positive, hopeful, and appreciative. Other days, I hate to admit, I feel like my soul has been placed inside a foreign body I no longer recognize or feel comfortable being inside of and my world outlook becomes dark, uncaring, and hopeless. The battle between surviving and quitting. The questions of will I ever just get to live again or will I always be fighting just to survive? The haunting thoughts and questions those on the outside can’t comprehend and those of us on the inside try to disguise or ignore. These battles within the war on cancer are the ones few talk about. They are the ones we feel betray us and make us sound weak when we are giving everything we have, so we just stay silent and unknowingly allow ourselves to slip back into the darkness. Many of us have something or someone that keeps pulling on the other side keeping us on the edge of our own destruction, but not everyone is that lucky. Some slip into the swirling currents and are pulled under where they feel as though they are suffocating and dying a little bit more each day. Many do so as they navigate their way through life with a smile on their face and joy in their voice until they are alone. That’s when their guard comes down, and they slip away into the inky darkness and allow it to cover up their happiness. They allow the hurt of their reality to swallow them whole. Not because they are weak, but because they are tired of pretending and here, inside their self, they have no one to fool but themselves and they just don’t want to anymore.
Cancer is a disease that eats you alive. We forget that sometimes. It’s destructive. It’s not pink ribbons and roses. It’s a war zone. Some days you’re in the fight. Other days you’re trying to figure out how to clean up what’s been destroyed. The fight is constant for us. We are always in it. We don’t get to go back to life as normal. In fact, we are left trying to figure out what normal even is anymore. We don’t get to ignore what’s happening or has happened. We don’t get to stop seeing the effects of cancer on us. We are the faces, the bodies, the minds, the lives of CANCER – and as hard as we try to cover up and push through the nastiness of this disease, don’t fault us for slipping back into the darkness from time to time. As frightening as it is and as dangerous as we know it can be, some times it’s on that edge that we finally allow ourselves to breathe.
As blessed as I’ve been with a faith in God and a strong support system, I still find myself slipping back into the darkness. I close my eyes as tears trickle down my face and I breathe. Then I pray. And each time, I find that sliver of light right there in front of me. That’s what keeps me from being swallowed whole and drowning in the depths of darkness.