When it’s time to give up

I barely made it through some of the last few weeks. I think I’m still coming through it and it’s a struggle. There have been days spent under the covers, whole days shielded from the sun lacking the desire to go anywhere or do anything. Everything made me so tired. Eating made me tired, so it was easier not to eat.

I don’t know if I’m ever explicit about these times, these days and weeks of depression (in the clinical sense) when the drugs don’t work and I can’t do anything or want to do anything. Sometimes I lie with the sheet over my face wondering how much longer until I die because it is just so boring and rattling and anxiety-causing to feel like this that maybe finally having it over with would be a relief.

My guess is that this isn’t unfamiliar to anyone with anxiety or depressive disorders. The maddening thing is that I know, for myself, this is cyclical. I change treatments approximately ever six months. That has been so for three years. In fact, I will be starting my fifth chemo regimen on the three-year anniversary of my recurrence. July 2nd.

I know how I react to learning I have to start something else, I expect it, I anticipate it, but expectation and anticipation do nothing to quell those feelings when they do in fact rise up. Instead, you feel like a fool, like a failure for not being better able to deal with these feelings. Better able to shower and walk the dog and buy coffee and eat food — any food — and go to the doctor’s appointments you know you have to go to. But instead, you can’t do these things even though you’ve had so much practice at feeling these feelings and knowing when they are going to come, that they should have long since ceased to incapacitate you. Your tolerance level simply refuses to adjust.

This was the last time for me though. I don’t want to spend two weeks every six months feeling that death is a good way to avoid responsibilities and anxieties. I’ve recognized that I’m lonely — not all of the time — but enough that I probably shouldn’t work from home and live by myself. But I value my aloneness. Beck is moving out for August 1, though, and so I suggested we move in together. I just don’t think I should be alone. I’ve been pretty depressed these last few days and I need help, someone around to help me when I’m getting overwhelmed, someone who can knock on my door and wake me up in the morning. I need someone who can help me when I need it for the bigger things. And I’m lonely.

It’s hard to say those things without crying.

My psychiatrist thinks it’s a good idea for me to move in with my sister. He knows we are close and that I trust her and her intentions for me. He congratulated me for being brave and asking for help. I laughed when he said that, crying at the same time as I often do, and told him I thought that when the time came for me to ask my sister for help, it would because I needed physical support, not mental health support. But there is it.

There is excitement in moving, though. We’ve found a place (bright! big rooms! shared backyard!) only a few blocks from where we each live now. I had hoped to stay in this neighbourhood with its wonderful shops and neighbours and accessibility to the lake and pools and parks. My hopes were fulfilled — we only had to look at once place before we got it.

I’m looking forward to living with my sister again. Just the two of us for the first time. In the past, there have always been lots of other roommates adding to the dynamic. I think we’ll get along quite well.

It feels a bit sad as well, though. Even though I know this isn’t the case, I feel as though cancer is stealing my independence (not to mention what it could be doing to my sister’s independence as I place her more into the de facto role of caregiver for those times when it’s needed). There is a tiny seed growing and it is making it known that I need more help than I can give myself. And that is humbling and shaming and embarrassing. But I guess there are worst things than to need your sister.

Like needing friends to help you pack your apartment and move it three blocks away. So if anyone loves packing — especially books — let me know. There will be lots of that to do.


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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7 Responses to When it’s time to give up

  1. Sandra says:

    You’re lucky to be so close to your sister and have her around to be able to help. hugs.
    P.S. if you need boxes, you know work has a million, let me know I’ll gladly deliver some.

  2. Nancy says:

    Wonderful that you’ve found a nice place and that you and your sister will be moving there together. It’s so nice to have company in the form of family and friends. I don’t think there’s any shame in needing help. Sometimes your need for help brings out a need in someone else to help. Think of yourself not as being in need, but as being able to give this opportunity to someone who has help to give but no one to give it to.

  3. Kara says:

    I’m glad you were able to ask for help when you needed it and that you found a bigger place in your neighbourhood. It sounds like you and your sister have a very special bond and will enjoy each other’s company.

  4. Aimee says:

    I’m sorry you are going through this entire experience. To say it is not fair is a huge understatement. I have been following your blog since I was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer. I am 36. My cancer is treated like ovarian cancer and I have learned a great deal from you, both about clinical trials and the metaphysics of cancer, as well as dealing with all the shitty physical and emotional/mental side-effects. Thank you for your strength in sharing, your humor and your wisdom. I have wanted to comment, many times, but was particularly moved by this post. Aimee

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