Talking Taboos: Should I live or should I die?

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Why is it that whilst some people are fighting to extend their lives, I am seeking to shorten mine?  Why did I fight so desperately and pray so hard when I had cancer?  I didn’t want to die then.  I wanted to live.  So why has my life value changed?  Is it a trick the devil is playing on my mind?  What do I really want?  Right now I am so close to killing myself.  That all-too-familiar feeling of a sinking heart, dark hole, bleak outlook, despair – all congealed into an emotional hell which swallows up your body, mind and soul.  So familiar, yet so hard to fight.  The conflict is painful in itself.  Should I live or should I die?  It’s like being torn in two by greedy birds of prey.
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I’m trying to tell myself that this is my illness talking, not me.  I am the person who fought off cancer, who has survived more than 40 operations, who has overcome sight loss, bereavement, rape and so much more.  So it doesn’t make any sense to want to die now when there are no such crises.  If only it was so neat and logical.  This illness takes away my reasoning.  My perspective shifts and I lose hold of the future I want to live for.  In fact the illness dilutes my world into nothing and emptiness.  It steals my feelings, kills off my plans, destroys my basic instincts for survival.  And finally it tricks me into thinking that this is what I genuinely want.  Death – so easy, so final.  Death is taking up so much of my head at the moment, and all this sensible stuff on paper is utterly meaningless.  I cannot find the true me in all of this.  I am standing on that proverbial cliff ready to jump.  Yet obviously I still have a desire to survive because I want to understand what is going on in my head.  I could have died earlier today.  Why didn’t I?  So am I in effect winning the battle even though I feel I am losing it?  Again, I cannot follow the logic.  When thoughts and feelings become blurred and memories and hopes peel off and flake into the forefront of my thinking – how can I know?  And this is why I hold on.  I hold onto that uncertainty, unsure whether it will flutter away and take me with it or land on the ground and take root.  I literally hold on to Dash my guide dog – Dash, who is physical and strong and lives for the moment.  And now my two lovely cats Hagrid and Cleopatra – they too live for the moment.
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As I write this I am listening to three animals sleeping – Dash is breathing heavily and the cats are squeaking, huffing and blowing air out of their mouths.  They let me know when they feel hungry, they are wired up to survive.  And so am I.  But this illness shakes all that up and I am left truly believing that life is not worth living, and wondering whether I can withstand yet another mental storm.   And oddly enough by writing this down and committing it to cyber space I feel a great sense of relief because I no longer feel alone.  I work hard at presenting myself well so that other people cannot see my suffering.  Sometimes people say it’s just a case of pulling yourself together, having a stern word with yourself and being grateful for what you’ve got.  Again, this illness is not founded on logic.  The only thing I am able to do is hold on, I cannot bat it away and do that British stiff upper lip stuff.  Not honestly, not inside.  And that’s why it’s such a struggle.
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Sometimes I sit at home absolutely sure that I have used up the last of my reserves.  Then an hour goes by and I realise I’m still here.  That raw, primaeval survival instinct somehow keeps my heart beating.  It’s when the pain gets too much and I start feeling guilty for burdening my friends and using up too many resources; when I see myself as one of David Cameron’s ‘parasites’ hated by the Daily Mail and the hard-working, tax-paying British public, that my life value dives to zero.  That’s when I feel I owe it to everyone to annihilate myself.  That’s the cruel trick that this illness plays, it feeds into your innate insecurities so that you can totally justify your reasons to die.  I am writing this while I have insight, in the hope that if psychosis lumbers into my thinking I will be able to read this and remind myself that there is no justification for suicide.  And my three protégés are testament to that as they lie here peacefully, not wracked by torment, but simply sleeping before they wake up seeking food, play and companionship.  Forget the past, forget the future, live for the moment.  Labradors and Ragamuffin cats do it, so why can’t I?
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Metal Mama’s Verdict

This is just a quick report to say that, whilst she kept me waiting almost beyond endurance, Metal Mama gave a favourable verdict.

Thankfully I shall start 2012 officially free of cancer.  I think it is going to be a year of no limits!

To everyone reading this post, Happy New Year!

I Fought Apathy – AND I WON!

Apathy.  An insidious enemy.  It creeps up on you when you’re unaware, and then steals your ambition.  Apathy means you don’t take action even

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Image by tuxthepenguin84 via Flickr

though you have a voice in your head saying “Just do it”.  Apathy makes it acceptable to sit back and watch.  Apathy leads you away from the frontline and takes you into a world where nothing matters enough to fight for.  Apathy blurs your sense of right and wrong.  Apathy lets you dwindle into the everyday, and it tricks you into thinking that the mundane is momentous.

Apathy has been slowly smothering me for a while.  Last night I met it face to face and saw it for what it was.  Catching it off guard it had no pleasant mask to hide its ugliness, no excuses at the ready to make everything OK, and no tricks to fool me.  I so nearly succumbed to it that I consider myself to have had an extremely lucky escape. 

Apathy was telling me that it was fine not to go to Worcester University today.  Despite having fought to get a place on the Recruitment and Selection Training Course I convinced myself that getting there was too much of an effort.  I was comfortable with the idea of staying at home and pottering.  The excuses came tumbling in.  First it was public transport – too hard.  Then it was my lack of energy – how can I get up early, negotiate trains and buses and be expected to contribute to the group?  Next it was my self-esteem – they probably didn’t want me there anyway, and I’d be rubbish.  And believe it or not the weather came into it.  Too wet and windy.  It’s far easier to snuggle up in my warm flat and stay safe.  Apathy – you’re a crafty saboteur!

So why did I go?  The “Should I?/ Shouldn’t I?” battle went on until the early hours of this morning.  I was poised to ring in sick, but then something tripped a switch in my brain and my thinking pattern changed course.  What the hell was I playing at?  I’ve wanted this for a year, I know full well that completing this two-day course will open new doors for me, I have travelled to Worcester before and come back alive.  Apathy – I WILL NOT LET YOU WIN!  I began listening to the voice which was telling me I’d be proud of myself tonight if I forced myself to go through with it.  Apathy’s voice still nagged away lying to me that it was better to stay at home and not bother.  

As I pelted to the bus stop uncomfortably short of time, I could still hear Apathy piping up that if I missed the bus I should feel pleased that I’d made the effort in the first place.  I might even be justified in “patting myself on the back”.   Of course there was Action’s voice informing me that there was a train I could catch which would get me to Worcester in time.  I arrived at the bus stop with a bedraggled Trudy (the rain was spitting on us contemptuously all the way) and we both stood there panting and feeling miserable.   The dark grey sky was rationing out its beams of light so that the dismal atmosphere was intensified.  The wind relentlessly thrusted rain shards into our skin.  Apathy beckoned me home. 

I was two minutes late, and there was no sign of any bus.  Had I missed it?  I secretly hoped so.   I waited a further seven minutes before giving Trudy the “Forward” command to head back home.  But she refused to move.  Trudy had spied the bus rumbling towards us with “Adventure” billowing from its engine.  I could have cried with relief.  Trudy and I had beaten Apathy, and I was almost tempted to wave as we left it behind to get soaked in the rain.

As I had hoped, the Training day was incredibly worthwhile.  Trudy behaved herself on and off duty and won several hearts with those Labrador eyes of hers.  I felt part of the group and we had some refreshingly heated discussions about Equality and Diversity.  They were the kind of discussions that thrill you and set off firework sparks in your head – the kind Apathy detests.  Coming home on the train I felt truly exhausted to the point where I wondered if I would be able to walk across the platform at Hereford Railway Station.  Yet with the exhaustion was a satisfaction that still has not left me, for knowing that I fought Apathy and won has given me extra strength.

I have learned today (better late than never) that surrendering to Apathy is turning your back on Adventure.  Apathy might appear to be safe and neutral, but in fact it is toxic and suffocating.  Apathy will snuff out the flame of life inside you and dull your identity so that you forget who are are and why you are here.

English: Hereford Railway Station

Image via Wikipedia