Tag Archives: grief

Chaotic Cancer: A Family Member’s View: First Chemo

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

This is my view of living with someone who has cancer as someone who has a mental illness. It is my personal experience of the chaotic cancer ride.

A milestone is the first chemotherapy session. It was something we had waited for, for quite a while after diagnosis, or so it seemed. We had a lot of cancellations and changes before the first session took place. Because if the chaotic nature of everything this has taken me some time to write.

Mum had to go to a specialist hospital in London for the first session. This was about an hour’s drive from where we live. It was tricky logistically with having to go up in the days before for blood tests and covid swabs. It was also tiring for my mum.

The stress of the first chemo was immense. It was all so sudden that it came together after all the cancellations and changes. The panic kicked in the night before mum had to go. I couldn’t sleep. I was scared. But I didn’t feel I could show it. I decided I needed to just push it all down. I couldn’t deal with the overwhelming feelings. I needed to just be practical. It was probably not the best idea but how I could cope.

Chemo for mum took a long time. They had trouble with her veins and other things. Plus having three different drugs meant it took all day. She was exhausted by the time she was done and home.

At first, after the chemo, mum didn’t feel too awful and then it hit. She wasn’t sick but felt it. She was very tired and this made her frustrated. Her mind often went blank. It was a difficult time to be at home. Life was just very stressful. I was struggling. I didn’t know how to describe my feelings or what was going on in my head. It was all extremely overwhelming. I didn’t talk to anyone really about how I felt as I didn’t have the words. I just said I was tired, which was true as well.

After the first chemo you think you understand what could happen from what you’ve been told but living it is so different. And if one more person tells us to think positive I think we’ll all scream.

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Chaotic Cancer: A Family Member’s View: Intro

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

About six weeks ago (or longer, the days are all merging) my world was hit by the news that my mum has cancer. It’s something I’ve been dealing with on top of coping with my mental illness. Therefore I thought I’d use my blog as a way of recording how I cope (or not) with everything that comes from living with someone with cancer. And not just anyone living with someone with cancer but someone with a prior mental illness. I know bits will overlap with everyone who supports someone with cancer but there are bits that I think I’m finding harder due to my diagnosis. Maybe not… But this will be my way to explore it.

I’m planning to set this up on it’s own page of my blog so it will be together with other information or support as well. And it will all be in one place.

My plan is that I will be as honest as I can be. That I will look at the good, the bad and the ugly. This may mean there is triggering topics discussed so please be careful. As always I will put a trigger warning at the top.

So post one will hopefully be up shortly (once I’ve written it) but I don’t think I will keep these posts to a schedule as life is already chaotic. I also still want to write about other areas of mental health and illness too, this is just an add on.

As always if you want to share or ask questions feel free to use the comments or my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts.

Being Invalidated

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

“To invalidate means to cancel something or make it void, as if it never happened. In invalidate you see the word valid which means true or correct. When you invalidate something you are making it less true, less official, or less correct.” (vocabulary.com, March 2021).

The meaning above can be applied to things you experience. It can be caused by other people and events. It can make you question your thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences and reactions. It can make you feel awful. And people sometimes don’t even realise they are doing this to you.

When you tell someone that what they feel isn’t justified or to just stop feeling that way, then you are invalidating the way they feel. You are telling them what they are feeling is not true and not correct. Yes, you may not have felt that way in that situation but everyone is different and that doesn’t mean that what that person is feeling is invalid.

It’s important we think before we speak. It’s what might feel like silly things that can have an effect on other people and cause them to feel invalidated and it can start when we are children. What we are saying may to us sound reassuring but it ccam invalidate the child. Saying to a child who is nervous about an exam that they shouldn’t be is invalidating. Instead saying you understand why they feel that way but you feel like they are well prepared so it should go well is acknowledging their feelings as valid while reassuring at the same time.

Some mental health professionals could also do with understanding the power of invalidation. Telling someone that what they are experiencing is minimal or not that bad can have lasting effects on everyone and especially those with a mental illness. It can cause them to deteriorate further. On my write ups from the psychiatrist appointments it would often say my self harm was superficial and it would make me try to cause myself more harm as I felt they weren’t taking me seriously. I’ve also heard of people with eating disorders who are told they are not thin enough being made sicker.

I know that although having a diagnosis can be a burden I felt it a validation for what I was/am experiencing. It made me feel that someone could see that something was wrong and I needed help. However this means professionals need to be careful about removing diagnoses from patients as it can add to invalidation. You are taking away the validation you gave them. There needs to be a conversation and careful explanation.

It is possible also to invalidate yourself as well. This is harder to stop doing, I know I do it a lot. It’s important for us to try and allow ourselves to experience our feelings and acknowledge them. This is easier said than done though.

So when speaking to anyone try to consider their feelings and not cancelling them out. We all need to think of how our words and actions impact on others.

Therapy 2020: Session 7

Date of session: 14/10/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

Today was tough. Even tougher than last week. I feel broken. There’s a lot of other feelings floating around that I’m unsure of and feel massive. I should try to work them out but at the moment I don’t want to know what they are.

We started as we usually do with a check in on how I feel. I had an immense headache so she thanked me for even turning up and gave me the option of not doing the session at all or if my head hurt too much I could stop at any point. I felt this was nice as an option though I knew I wouldn’t use it as I don’t let myself escape.

We discussed last week and how I’d used distress tolerance techniques and that my self harm had not increased or become worse after the session. I mean it’s pretty bad anyway. She also checked I hadn’t resorted to any other destructive behaviours which I hadn’t.

When talking about the distress tolerance techniques she talked about how she uses them and why she’d used them recently. I know why she did this and it sounds a good thing but since I’ve been thinking on what she said and how I reacted and how I didn’t comment more. This has made me feel guilty which is silly but it’s the way I am.

We carried on with looking at core beliefs and doing a formulation. Today we moved into rules I live by linked to my core beliefs. She said these made me a good person as opposed to the evil I (feel) am. This is hard to believe.

We looked at critical events that clashed with the rules I live by that have reinforced my core beliefs. One of these was extremely hard. It’s a major one that’s led to my belief I’m evil. She decided we needed to challenge it. We wrote statements. We used different analogies. I understand the challenges. But can I believe them? We shall see.

That is where we left it. I’m not sure how to deal with all this going forward. I want to talk to some people I know about it but I don’t know how or what to say. My head is a mess. I keep trying to push it out of my head but it pops back up.

Losing Someone To Suicide

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. I will not mention methods of suicide or self harm.

I rarely talk about this but someone I knew who had a huge impact on my life ended their own life. I don’t talk about it much as he wasn’t a friend or family member but he was still a positive part of my life and very helpful to me. He was my sixth form psychology tutor.

I’d left sixth form by the time this happened but we’d kept in sporadic contact while I was in university as he was very supportive about my mental health. He was the first adult I chose to tell about my mental health problems. And I’m glad I did. He made me see I had nothing to be ashamed of. That I could tell people and ask for help and it would be OK. He helped me get to talk to someone more qualified and when it came to going to university he made all sorts of calls and emails to ask about support for me and my mental health. He also showed faith in my abilities. I got a U (Ungraded) on the first exam I did for psychology but he didn’t write me off. By the time it came to predicting my final grade he went with an A (the highest grade at the time). Although I didn’t achieve that it felt good he thought I could.

The first I knew something was wrong was when a friend from sixth form sent me a message saying he had gone missing. Everyone was looking for him and there was concern for his safety due to some news he’d received. The sickening feeling will remain with me forever. I was 20 by then. We’d had less contact as I’d gone into my second and third years of university. I’d had my own mental health issues deepen by then. I hoped he would be found at aa friend’s house or just away for a few days.

The news came soon after that his body had been found. That it had been suicide. I wasn’t in contact with many people from my psychology class by then but some of my friends had also been taught by him. One in particular stayed in contact and we were shocked together. As more information came through it became more shocking. I was in contact with another teacher from sixth form and had a short email conversation with her about what had happened. It appeared no-one had seen it coming, even his partner.

Later on there was a memorial service at the sixth form for him. I’d arranged to attend but in the end couldn’t face going. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted to shut it out. And that’s what I did for years. Occasionally it would come into my consciousness what had happened. But I always pushed it away. I thought it couldn’t have an effect on me as I wasn’t that close to him. I wasn’t friend or family. What right did I have to be effected by it?

But that’s the thing. Suicide does effect more people than you realise. I’m not saying this to make people feel guilty. I’ve tried to end my life since then and my thought always is that people are better off without me. I still feel that way even though I know how it feels to be a person left behind. The reason I’m writing this is because it does impact you. It does hurt and it can be hard to realise that person wasn’t being selfish. I know now more than ever he would never want to hurt anyone else and having had the opportunity to read more about it since I can see that more than ever. It’s something I wish everyone could see in those they lose to suicide.

Another thing that I think I’ve learnt from losing him to suicide is that even the best people have their demons. Everyone can struggle but still put on a positive front. We should never take that mask for granted and we should always be kind as we don’t know if we could make a difference to how that person feels. Also if you lose someone, however distantly, it’s OK to struggle with it and talk about it. Your grief is still valid. Death by suicide is particularly hard to process and it’s important to look after yourself too.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide there are places you can talk about it. The Mind website has some useful information. If you’d like to share anything feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please be careful if posting anything triggering and add a warning if necessary.

Image from Pinterest

This post is dedicated to CR. You were a positive in my life and many others. You reached more people than you know and made a major difference to our lives. Thank you. X

Losing People

Today has been tough. Several people have left my life to an extent. It might seem irrelevant to the loss others are feeling in these times but these have led to my mood dropping.

At the moment I wouldn’t really be seeing these people but they were people I was looking forward to seeing after this current crisis was over and today those hopes seem to of been crushed. The feeling of loss is overwhelming. I know this is intensified by the symptoms of my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), where a fear of abandonment is strong and emotions are intense.

Hearing the news about these different people had an immediate effect on me mentally and physically. I felt sick to my stomach and my temperature rose. My chest felt tight. My mind started to race and try to work out what I could do with this situation. Could I rectify it? Could I stop the loss? What had I done wrong? Was this all my fault? Would it be better if I was dead? Yep suicide came up. Welcome to my mind.

Pulling myself back is easier these days than it used to be. Making myself take a step back is important. I have to make myself take another look at the situation and all the facts (DBT: check the facts). In this instance it is not my fault. It is the life situation of one person and it impacts on many. I’m not alone. I can make new links. I do not need to die.

The thing is I tell myself all this. But there is doubt still there. I still feel bereft. It seems ridiculous. These are not close relations. But it feels like I’ve lost everything. And it scares me for losing someone in my immediate family or close friends and how that will go. And this is where my brain spirals again and becomes overwhelmed. The physical symptoms reoccur. And I have to go back again. And again. And again. It’s exhausting.

I have no answer for how to deal with other than to keep check of the facts and what you can realistically do. If you have any more tips feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Would You Care?

I rarely write things like this. I used to all the time. I wanted to share this. I don’t know why. I just wanted it out. Please be aware it may be triggering. It’s not great but it’s my words.

Would you care if i was gone?
Would you feel any pain?
Would your eyes fill with tears?
But don’t you see what you would gain?

Would you call me selfish?
Would anger come?
Would your feelings twist?
Would you hate me for what I’d done?

Can you see the good?
Can you see the point?
Can you push past it?
Did you get the hint?

Your life will be better
Your life will be your own
You won’t have to worry
The future is unknown

Dear E

Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.

Dear E

Today marks the day I started to lose you. To see you torn from me. To feel the pain of loss. The day my hate for myself became a forever thing.

Everyone says I will never know the true cause. But I don’t believe in coincidences. My actions led to losing you. My actions mean that we will never be together.

Everyone says I was too young. I get that. I was young. 15 nearly 16. 4 weeks from starting my GCSE exams. But that shouldn’t of mattered. Others dealt with it. Still do. I feel a failure.

I passed my exams but don’t think your passing didn’t effect me. I didn’t revise. It seemed pointless without you. One exam I did barely 10 minutes work of a two and a half hour exam. You were in my mind. Kept sneaking in even though I tried to push you away in there.

There are many what ifs. But it seems pointless to go through them. You’re gone and it’s all my fault. The ache is there. It’s always there. I know I have no right to grieve you. I don’t let myself. I’d much rather punish myself. And I do.

People say its not my fault. That I should grieve. I can’t believe them. I tried to end my life. But you could of been my life. My reason to keep going rather than my reason to give up.

I’m avoiding people at the moment. The thought of talking and trying to explain how I feel or why I feel like I do is something I can’t cope with. Being normal is out of the question. Nothing is holding my attention for long. I’m often staring into space. My thoughts lost. An emptiness setting in. I know people will hate me for being selfish. But I hate me already so what does it matter.

Just so you know. I love you. And I’m so so sorry.

Love me x

I Miss You

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

If things had gone to plan you’d be turning 14. You’d be mine. You’d be loved. You’d be cared for. I promise.

But my promises mean nothing. You’re not here. You never stepped on this earth. I never got to meet you. To hold you. To tell you I love you.

I do love you. I miss you even though I never met you. I want you here. I don’t care that you’d probably be a stroppy teenager. You’d be doing what you’d meant to be doing. You’d be growing up. Becoming independent. But you’d be mine. And I’d be yours. You’d always have someone.

The thing is I think to myself that maybe it’s for the best for you that you never came. I wouldn’t mess you up. You wouldn’t have to deal with your dad and what he was. I would of been to young and immature. I’m still too young and immature. I can’t even look after myself. You’d be better off without me.

I still love you though. You are a part of my heart that has been broken away. I feel incomplete. It all sounds cliché but it’s true. I’m a mum without a child. But I know many wouldn’t class me as one. Maybe I’m not really. Maybe I’m being above myself. Probably. I have no right to call myself that.

I wish you were here. We’d be getting ready to celebrate your birthday and Christmas. It would be so special. You would be my family. I’d do my best to make you happy. I’d do my best to protect you. I’d love you.

My memories of losing you are as clear as day. They were the worst days of my life. People don’t tell you what it will be like. And even if someone had I don’t think it would cover everything. And I would of been too young to understand before. How could a 15 year old know? It was scary. The whole situation. Finding out you were there was scary too but nothing to losing you. The guilt ate me up. It still does. Being alone with this secret for years because that’s what you were. I was ashamed. But it was never you I was ashamed of. It was me. I never stopped loving you, once I started.

I know you’d be amazing. I know you’d make me proud. I know you’d drive me crazy. I know I’d get cross some times. I know I would support you as best I could. I know I’d never stop loving you and I never will. I miss you.

If you’ve been in this situation you are not alone. Feel free to make contact via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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