If my title intrigued you I hope you will stay to read the rest because this subject has been weighing on me for quite some time. I wasn’t even sure which blog to write it on since I have this blog that reaches a larger audience and my personal blog that is more of my close-knit friends, though it is open to the public.
Let backtrack a bit for those who don’t know my recent journey.
In recent years I have had cancer, not once, but twice. When I first found out I had cancer, most of my friends and some of my family rallied around me to be supportive. I went into remission for a year and then sadly my cancer came back with a vengeance. The second time it came around, I was more involved in Toastmasters and more friends rallied around, more family rallied and more letters and support showed. This time we figured out how to video chat, how to be a better support to me and help me with my needs.
Both times, once I was well, friends went dark, the family fell off the face of the earth and I was left in the dark cold turkey.
I am a strong, resilient person and I know I should take it as a compliment that people feel like once I am well that I can handle things on my own.
The thing is, what they don’t realize is how hard it is to move forward after you have had all that support to be left with no support.
- No more video chats
- No more calls
- The letters slow down or come to halt
- The care packages stop
- The check-ins to see how you are don’t happen
- The soft way people talk to you stops
- The compassion seems to have left the building
Even the strongest person has a hard time recovering after a trauma like cancer and when all the compassionate caring stops, it is like going through withdrawals.
If you have followed my blog for a while or you know me, you know I am going to be upfront and honest about how I feel.
Vulnerable and all.
I feel like I am having to quit “attention” from others’ care and love, cold turkey.
Since last fall when I was told I was cancer-free and the tests were good, I have been severely depressed and struggling.
Imagine a person suffering from an addiction to a drug and then they are removed from it cold turkey with nothing.
My drug, however, was compassion from others. That compassion was a swarming form of attention and to be honest, not having it, is hard. I miss it.
Deep down in my heart, I know my friends care and love me. The “addict” per se in me, however, is saying, I don’t matter anymore and I only mattered when it was life-threatening. I know in reality that it is just negative self-talk and untrue.
I am talking to my therapist to refill that void with other things again.
- Doing service for others
- Doing good for others
- Remembering my purpose and meaning in this life and fulfilling that purpose
- Getting back involved in Toastmasters
- Developing a workout routine
- Going for walks on a regular basis
- Meeting with friends or calling friends
- Reaching out to family
- Scheduling more travel and road trips
- Finding retreats or getaways I might be interested in
While I know it’s on me to lift myself out of this depression and being who I am, I will.
I wanted to write this for those of you who might be currently supporting or befriending someone who is going through Cancer or any other severe illness right now or who might have a friend who just went into remission.
If things are still looking grim you are probably still there for them, helping them out, being support and I am sure they are thankful for that and I am thankful to you for being there for me and thankful to my friends who were there for me.
If you want to know how to best support your friends while they are going from “I had cancer or this life-threatening illness” to “I survived and I am going to make it”…
Here are some key ways to support them AFTER they are well so you don’t put them into a state of Cold Turkey shock like I am going through:
- Text them every now and then to let them know you still care and are happy they are well
- Send them a card that shows that little bit of extra effort that you cared enough to write something and put a stamp on it.
- Call them if you can. If you were able to make the time before, try to make the time again, even if it’s not as much.
- Schedule a visit with them or an outing together. They are finally well and able to get out of the house. Go have fun with them
Remember that even though they are well, they might still be scared about their illness returning and still need your friendship. Also, the people you may think are the strongest are probably the ones who are not ones to burden others with their problems, so they won’t tell you when they need you, or are sad or are depressed.
Robin Williams surprised the nation by taking his life.
Kate Spade’s father said he spoke to her earlier in the day and she was planning a trip.
You just never know.
Don’t stop showing your friends you care, especially those who have gone through some pretty major things in their life, like trauma or illness.
Those are the ones who really need you the most.
When you go cold-turkey on them, it is like quitting the hardest drug they ever had to quit because whether you realize or not, your friendship means more to them than you could possibly imagine.
You don’t have to be there 100%, just don’t go from 100% to 0% in a day.
~XoXo Trisha Trixie
Crusader for Humanity