This is this

I was in Chicago last week and stayed off the computer except for work, and I killed my laptop with water which means I can’t post from a prone position unless I want to do so from my phone. Thus the recent silence.

I talked to my psychiatrist about the thoughts I’ve been having since finding out about the rise in my tumor marker. That I’m frustrated that the marker would be stable for so many months, then go up after two treatments. And how even though I know intellectually that it’s not true, I feel sometimes like if I didn’t treat the cancer it wouldn’t grow. And I don’t even know if it’s growing.

My psychiatrist called it proximal relating — that I see the one thing happening and the other thing happening in close sequence, so my brain tells me there is a cause-and-effect thing going on. And that it’s just an example of magical thinking when I tell myself (even though I don’t believe it) that I would be fine if only I hadn’t started chemo.

He also said — not for the first time, and likely not the last — that there is a divide between my emotions and my intellect. Which is true. I try to understand where the feelings come from and why so that maybe I can control them. It doesn’t work, not really.

I told him that sometimes I feel like I’m watching myself from outside of myself. I think it alarmed him. Are there any times when you feel engaged? he asked.

I told him I feel more present than I ever have at any other time in my life. But that it feels like I’m watching a home movie seconds after it’s been made. That I’m conscious of the process of making memories. This is a memory…this is a memory…this is a memory…this is a memory…

Being in a state of hyper-awareness is like sinking to the bottom of the lake, holding your breath and yourself so still that you hear each beat of your heart, the thrumming and whooshing of blood against your eardrums. There’s the high-pitched hum as your mastoid bone conducts sound at a higher frequency than you could ever hear on land. It’s both the quietest and loudest place, under the water. But at some point you need air.

When you’re feeling anxious, my psychiatrist said, ask yourself, ‘Is there anything I can do in this moment that will alleviate my anxiety?’

I said, I keep doing that and I tell myself all I can do is wait until Monday when I see the doctor but even though I know I can’t do anything, I still feel anxious.

I am getting better at living with the anxiety and keeping it still and quiet inside of me. And that lets me enjoy lounging in the park with Emily, learning how to do cartwheels on a high school athletic field with my sister and Jodi, drinking tea and taking pictures with Shea. It’s fitting perhaps, since I feel lately like I’m watching my life like a movie, that Shea and I recreated a scene from a film.

This is a memory.


About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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2 Responses to This is this

  1. Shea says:

    This is a memory.

  2. It’s hard not to freeze-frame life considering what you’re going through (I know, I do it all the time as well). But thank goodness for those good moments, even if we can become detached. At least they get appreciated. That photograph is totally beautiful, by the way.


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