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Stopped in My Tracks, It Is Not Always Plain Sailing

Last updated: September 2022

I am a very positive person and like to think for the most part - I cope with living with life after bladder cancer and living with two ostomies. When I started writing, I said I would always make it a balanced page. I would share the good, the not-so-good, and the bad.

People who dip in and out may mistakenly think that there is little balance as the good and positive shares most definitely outweigh the bad. Positive posts do outnumber the posts that show times of challenges or struggles.

That, in general, reflects my day-to-day experiences, and I am fortunate that physically, emotionally, and mentally, I do cope well. I live a normal life. However, sometimes I am stopped in my tracks. Like a bolt out of the blue. Suddenly, often with no real trigger, I feel all consumed by what was my illness and the impact it does have on my life.

Suffocated by my feelings

This happened two weeks ago. I felt tired. I felt weepy. I felt a deep sadness within. I couldn't concentrate. Nothing made sense. It was like nothing else was important. I felt suffocated by my feelings.

I felt hit with emotions that were so strong, and I had never felt anything like since I was diagnosed. I was struggling to process how I was feeling.

A physical and emotional trigger

The night previously, I had fallen asleep on the sofa watching television. Something I rarely do, and I usually always go to bed when I feel tired. I woke up, and my bag was so full - almost about to burst. I think this was the trigger.

The emotional trigger that brought it home to me, I am double incontinent. That if I had woken later, I would be sitting in my own pee.

I am used to leaks, so that in itself wasn't the issue. The issue was that raw emotion. Like someone had ripped off a Band-Aid and revealed the raw reality that most days are at the back of my mind.

Find productive distractions

We had guests coming the next day for dinner. I threw myself into cooking, which is always a good distractor for me, but I still didn't feel like myself. It is not something I often need to do, but that evening I did have to paint on a smile and cope the best I could.

The following morning, it hit me even harder. My husband went to play golf. I have never felt so helpless, lonely, and emotional in my whole life. At the moment, I didn't know how I was going to move forward.

After about 5 days, I gradually started to feel better, and each day that followed, little by little, I was getting back to being myself.

Emotional well-being

While the near-miss after falling asleep was definitely the trigger, I wonder if it was just the final straw that was holding me up that had snapped. A lot had been happening, and they say when you are busy, it often goes to your weakest part. For me, on this occasion, it was my emotional well-being.

I had been to a funeral shortly before of someone who died before their time, was the reminder of our mortality part of it too? I had lost a fellow bladder cancer ostomate who I had been supporting. For sure, that possibly had a part to play too. I had also looked at some old photos of pre-cancer me, which had made me a little sad, and what-if questions were plaguing my mind.

However, while it is important to recognize the possible triggers, it is how you find ways to cope after the episode that matters.

It's not always plain sailing

For me, I found it comforting to remind and reassure myself that given all I went through, there will be "wobbles." I am human, after all.

A reminder to myself that I don't have to be strong all the time. Sometimes I think I am too hard on myself. Unconsciously or not, I constantly feel the need to be strong. So, while it wasn't a nice experience, I feel I have learned from it.

I have learned it is not always plain sailing. In fact, even without having battled cancer or gone through ostomy surgery, everyone has times that are harder. Next time I have stopped in my tracks, I will allow myself time to process my feelings and not battle to keep up the fight at that time.

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