A few months after my breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy and reconstruction, I started on the brutal road known as Chemotherapy. Though I had been finding Silver Linings at each step of my breast cancer journey thus far, it certainly became harder at this point.
After my 4th round of chemotherapy, I went into what I now refer to as The Funk Zone. It was at this point that I entered Isolation Island with Chemo Sobby as my constant companion. There was something about that 4th round of chemo that made me feel as though I had finally hit the bottomless pit of chemo despair.
A Deep, Deep Barrel
The scope and intensity of the these feelings of isolation and subsequent emotional pain fluctuated from day to day. What worried (frightened?) me was that I felt sadder and more distraught than I had ever felt in my life. I was majorly grumpy, easily irritated, and moody. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t sleep, despite feeling more exhausted than I had ever felt in my life.
I began to wonder whether the treatment(s) were worse than the disease itself. I literally couldn’t bear the thought of another chemo. I was sick and tired of being bald. And I didn’t want to leave the house because I was so worried about my persistent nausea and vomiting.
And Another Thing…
I also had a wicked case of Sinusitis and, I’m sorry to say, constipation (ah, some of the many joys of chemo!). My nights were long- sleepless sore-throat-filled nights of coughing and flipping back and forth (to get the mucus to move from one side of my sinus to the other – Ewwwwwww. Trust me, I know).
Combine that with the fact that I hadn’t “done my business” (as our young daughter says) in about a week. I looked like I was seven months pregnant (and that, I was definitely NOT).
What helped me the most was my ability to put on my virtual nurses uniform (being a nurse was definitely a Silver Lining during my treatment) and assign myself some healthy coping mechanisms, including:
- Normalize feelings. The normalization of feelings goes a long, long way. Truly. Just the acknowledgment that feeling moody, irritable, unfocused and exhausted was normal (and to be expected during treatment) helped relieve my anxiety immensely.
- Articulate feelings. Even though I felt hesitant to share my Funk Zone feelings, the reality was that talking (with both friends and professionals) about what was going on inside made me feel a little less looney tunes.
- Exercise. Even the teeniest walk perked my body, mind and spirit.
- Guided meditation and restorative yoga. These were two of the complementary therapies that I used to help me rest, relax and rejuvenate.
An unexpected and more-than-welcome Silver Lining was the realization that being in the Funk Zone enabled me to recognize and engage inner resources that I never knew that I had. I hope that it can do the same for you.
What do you do when your are having an extremely challenging day?