Thank you, for all who have responded to my post yesterday, about having a hard time coming up with Strong Reasons for Living. I have received many encouraging words which have been helpful. I have had a good cry. I have received extra support. I have had many tell me how I am helping. Thank you.
I don’t feel so depressed today. And that is the beauty of Parts Work (IFS Therapy), that sometimes you just have to admit how you feel (that you have Parts up), listen to those parts, and in so doing they calm down a bit.
We all need to feel heard.
Grant and I have heard each other out on a deeper level. He wrote and told me, for the first time, really, that early on in our relationship he’d had a strong intuition that he would be seeing me out of this life. It’s been something he’s known almost the entire time we’ve been together. I did not know that, not as clearly as he stated it yesterday. He’s my Twin Flame, and we have a connection, and probably contracts that were agreed to before entering these bodies.
And to be clear, just because I said what I said yesterday, did not and does not mean that I had or have decided to give up treatment, go straight into Hospice, and die. Or even, as is an option in Colorado, seek physician assisted suicide. I was not and am not there.
I was just admitting that the hardest part of the Radical Remission package for me is that sense of meaning and purpose. Even in her book, Dr. Turner recommends working to find that through various means. In fact she says,
In order to be excited about living, people often need to get in touch with (or get back in touch with) their deepest desires or callings.Turner PhD, Kelly A.. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (p. 260). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Being diagnosed with cancer tends to force people to reflect on what they would ideally like to change in order to make their remaining time on this planet—however long that may be—as enjoyable and meaningful as possible.Turner PhD, Kelly A.. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (pp. 260-261). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
While denying death may help you live longer, other studies have shown that being depressed may cause you to die sooner. Depression is characterized by an inability to find joy in one’s life; it can therefore be thought of as the opposite of having strong reasons for living.Turner PhD, Kelly A.. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (p. 263). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
…having strong reasons for living involves focusing on things that bring a person meaning and joy, and this actually turns off the fight-or-flight response and turns on the rest-and-repair response,Turner PhD, Kelly A.. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (p. 264). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
That is why one of the first questions I always ask cancer patients is “Why do you want to stay alive?” Not just do you want to stay alive, but why. What else would you still like to experience in this life? Which activities bring you energy and joy?Turner PhD, Kelly A.. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (p. 277). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
So yes, I admit to having one or more depressed parts, parts that are having a hard time coming up with the answers to the question of “Why do you want to stay alive?” And so it becomes the biggest part of my healing journey, to find those answers, and maybe to start searching in different ways, or through different practitioners, to help me answer that question.
For example, the idea of small house, south of France, introverted life, read and write, enjoy activities of daily living, well, most of that I could approximate here. And I could visit there. Maybe I need to do my next Fundly to help me get over there for another time. Or maybe I set up counseling retreats to France, or driving tours of France (I love driving through France! What amazing countryside!) I could continue pursuing my French language skills through lessons from the Denver branch of Alliance Française, which at this point they’re doing only online because of COVID-19.
I could set up my life and my household to be more like I envision, simple, organized, quiet, slow, involved in the input and output of information. In a way, cancer gives me that leeway because I’m officially labeled as disabled with the expectation that I don’t do much, and therefore have financial support not tied directly to active work. Maybe I take that opportunity to fund what I really want to do. Of course, the financial support is not enough, not really even close, especially when I consider how much I spend out-of-pocket on alternative, but essential, medical services and supplies. But maybe it could get balanced out somehow.
And now our state is under Stay-at-Home orders, so what I’m envisioning for myself is actually being mandated. I’m sure it’s killing the extroverts, but we introverts are in our element, most likely.
So anyway, back to the idea of depression. I have to confess that part of why I pursued education in the mental health field as a counselor is because I’ve always struggled with depression, and will self-diagnose as having had major depression in junior high and high school. I have learned coping skills over the years. I am thrilled to have learned about IFS Therapy in grad school, and know it helps. I know it helps me and I know it helps others. And, it’s also the sort of thing you have to actually apply for it to do any good. It doesn’t happen by osmosis. Can’t just put the book under my pillow at night and have it magically work. I have to work it, and I haven’t been.
It’s all too easy to let a part slide into the driver’s seat of my metaphorical bus and just go along for the ride, and then wonder why my bus seems to be going not where I’d like it to be going, and maybe at a reckless and dangerous rate, at that. I don’t want to have said bus be driven like a truck was recently driven in the Colorado mountains, 100 mph down a narrow mountain road, endangering self and others, until finally it crashed into a canyon wall, and literally split the truck in half. That’s how not to let one’s bus be driven.
But it’s also true that sometimes parts get so worried and scared and anxious, especially if Self doesn’t seem to be in control, that they will take it upon themselves to drive, even if they don’t know how or don’t have a driver’s license, again metaphorically.
So it’s on me to do my work, get my Self back in the driver’s seat, experience the 8 Cs and not freak the f*ck out.
I mean it’s all true about this body not being the end-all-be-all. There is far more to Life than that. But maybe, as this meme says, I was given this mountain to climb to show others that it can be done. But sometimes it’s also okay to just be tired. Mountain climbing and cancer are hard. They are endurance sports. Enduring is hard.