I met up with some of my extended family over the weekend at my Aunt’s house, and damn, it was awesome. In fact this whole weekend from Friday night to now has been an exercise in learning just how many people are in my corner, ready and willing to help me whenever I need it. I am beyond grateful for everything.

I also haven’t been totally honest with pretty much everyone I’ve meet up with. I’m not doing quite as well as I said I was.

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I didn’t really realize it until I got home an hour or so ago after speaking to my cousin, my brother and their respective partners. They asked me how I was doing and I told them about all the good things that have been happening and painted a pretty rosy picture all things told. It wasn’t until I pulled into my driveway that I realized I’d left quite a lot out.

The problem is I can’t get my brain to work properly, and while I think it’s a side effect that’s going to pass, it’s really starting to bother me.

Pre- chemo I was a fount of story ideas, both for my day job in advertising and in my own creative endeavors. I had so many ideas it overloaded me a lot of the time, and I had to write them down for later (on that vein if anyone knows where I left my notebook full of ideas, let me know) but now when I try and get my brain to give me an idea I’ve got nothing. It hasn’t been so bad at work, usually if I have enough time to think I can come up with something, but it really bugs me that my mind doesn’t move the way it used to.

Don’t get me wrong here, I would still 100% have done the chemotherapy if even if I knew for sure that this would have happened…I also know just how lucky I am to have survived, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t affecting my state of mind.

I also know for sure that this might just be a bout of depression.

That doesn’t make it any less real, or any less frightening. Being able to be creative is a big part of my self image, and the way I relate to the world, and not being able to do it as well as I could has been surprisingly rough.

I had hoped that I’d come out of chemo with a rekindled fire for life, and now that I’ve found the opposite I think I’m a bit disappointed in myself. That’s entirely unreasonable, but again, no less real.

Still, I get to say that tomorrow is another day I get to be here for, and maybe things will be better then.

I hope so.

 

 

 

Depression is a weird illness. Sometimes it creeps in, sometimes it just clocks you one when you’re not looking.

In this example the part of depression will be played by a woman in a polka dot dress and I will be played by a man in a stupid hat.

In this example the part of depression will be played by a woman in a polka dot dress and I will be played by a man in a stupid hat.

It takes quite a few forms, and no one person’s expression of the disease is the same as another. Pretty much everyone with depression finds that apathy, not sadness, is the one common factor but I’ve met depressives who had every symptom except apathy too. That’s one of the reasons it’s so tough to treat properly (the others being that human brains are astoundingly chemically complex, other illnesses are co-morbid with depression and in general the whole brainmeat thing is just weird).

I kept my depression a secret for a long time, even from my family, because part of being depressed is blaming yourself for your own symptoms. I think it’s because it feels like if you could just try a bit harder then you’d be able to operate the way you’re convinced that everyone else is handling life just fine. If you could just be a bit more focused you could do everything you feel like you should be doing.

As Wil Wheaton once said ‘depression lies’.

And as I’ve said before ‘depression defends itself’.

Depression feels very much like having a slug in my brain. A gelatinous, ink black creature that’s more like a sea slug (cucumber) than an actual slug, both in appearance and in its defense mechanisms. When a certain species of sea slug is threatened it quite literally craps out bits of its respiratory system onto predators.

I do not do this. Not even when threatened.

That said that would be an amazing way to win a fight.

Depression, when threatened, also seems to lose its shit in a major way. I came through cancer with only one real depressive episode, although there were definitely times when I felt down and many more when I was awfully sick, I mostly kept my head on really well. Now that things are looking better, depression has crept back in and tapped me on the shoulder like a roommate that had disappeared for six months and everyone thought had died in a crevasse.

I am very aware that this is not my fault, and what’s more I am also aware that there’s not a huge amount I can do about it for now except follow my doctor’s advice, get as much exercise and sleep as I can and generally not be too hard on myself especially as I am still in recovery.

I am technically aware of all of these things…and yet some of the time I still feel like a garbage human being.

Still, I have to say there are things that make me feel better: My awesome friends and family. Good books. Baths (I don’t care if they’re not meant to be manly, baths are awesome as fuck). My wife who is doing a stellar job of not only keeping me alive but also functioning and happy as much as I am able.

And, sometimes, writing about being depressed makes me less depressed. What kicked all of this off is I had high hopes that an appointment I had tomorrow would bear dividends in helping me feel less like complete crap, and it’s been pushed back two weeks. This is not a great reason to be depressed, many many people in the medical system have it far worse (to say nothing of people living overseas) but it still hit me unexpectedly hard.

I actually do feel better now. Thanks for reading everyone.

 

Now I’m going to go and have a bath with bubbles in it.