My physical recovery is still going well. My mental health is taking a bit of a battering. Trying to cope with the effects of the menopause on top of a marriage break up is hard work. Unfortunately Nate has decided that he doesn’t want to give it another try after three months of space and separation so I am now trying to pick up the pieces of what’s left of my self worth and start the difficult moving on process.
Now I’m not comparing Nate to cancer, but the process of moving on is something you have to go through after a diagnosis too. I learnt a lot about myself after the active treatment stopped and I was left alone with the feelings of isolation and fear that the cancer would come back. The bereavement of a life as I’d known it before is something I feel parallels the feelings of loss I’m experiencing now, albeit for different reasons. Losing the person you love is never easy, but it’s always worse for the person who didn’t make that decision. You are left alone with nothing but rejection for company, lost in a world of your own pain. We all know it, we’ve all been there, and even though it’s a cliché, time is a great healer. In a few months I’ll have gone through the worst of this pain and will be moving on again, although this time not from disease and all that entails, but from my marriage.
I am grateful that I’m in therapy at the moment because trying to process the loss of my ovaries and womb alongside the loss of my husband is not an easy task. I know that ultimately I’ll grow from this. I know that I’ll learn more about myself on the way. But at the moment it feels like I’m starting out on a journey I don’t want to make but have no choice but to undertake. I had counselling after the cancer but didn’t find it very useful in the long term (hey I did end up in a psychiatric hospital!). The counselling I had before was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which works by getting you to challenge your thoughts and behaviours. This works with generalised anxiety quite well, but when my counsellor told me I had ‘irrational health anxiety’ I knew things weren’t going to work out between us. It’s hardly irrational to be scared of getting cancer again when you’ve already had it and been warned by oncologists that it could return or spread to somewhere else in your body.
The therapy I’m in at the moment is called Acceptance and Commitment to Change (ACT) and it teaches patients to sit with their feelings and accept them. I’m already finding it far more useful in dealing with how cancer has changed me, so hopefully it will also help in the complex mess of loss I’m also experiencing at the moment. Either way, being mindful of your thoughts and experiencing them seems to make more sense than constantly trying to battle them, at least to me. I look forward to the day I can accept cancer was a part of my life, because it’s been almost three years and I still haven’t done that. I seriously hope it doesn’t take that long to accept the end of my marriage…