Tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will be beginning my first of 30-days of radiation treatments.
In my recent scans, there have been several spots of regrowth, and I’ve been awaiting information until recently when they confirmed I will be doing radiation treatments.

It’s all very frightening.
It’s all very stressful.

I’m trying my best to deal with it all as best as I can while processing the million other things on my mind. It’s not exactly calming when the information they do give you is the possibility negative side-effects while stringing in some of the worst of worst-case scenarios.

The most unfortunate of it all is the waiting – and then the overthinking – and then the waiting again. It generates some sort of unique anxiety, but the interesting thing is telling people about it and seeing/hearing their reactions. It puts things back into perspective, whether it be them sharing their personal stories or their lack of reaction possibly from disbelief, either way, it’s something. It shows how situations like this aren’t simple to deal with. It shows me how, fortunately, it isn’t a common thing and people just don’t know what to say or what to do to help. Unfortunately, this means that I, myself, don’t yet know how to deal with it yet either.

I contemplated sharing this on a more public platform but knew that it would cause more discomfort than good. So for those of you who still periodically come here (for whatever reason), I hope this gives you some insight into what’s going on and hope you appreciate this post. It took me a lot of emotional energy to write it, but I’m going to need even more emotional strength to make it through this, and I’m glad I got a chance/a platform to at least put these thoughts out there.

But hey, wish me luck, and don’t be too upset about it – let me take care of that.

Random Thoughts #5.

I’ve been feeling down.

It’s not something you think about when you’re happy, but when you’re sad or anxious, that’s all you can think about. Which lately has been how I feel more and more often. Between the stress of university selections, upcoming math exams, not feeling physically great, and juggling the underlying thought that “something may still be wrong with me”, has been wearing me down.

And I mean down…

Down straight through the ground – so far down I think I feel my butt starting to warm up.

All jokes aside, it’s not easy feeling this way. Especially when you read a post on the confessions page (of the school that I’m thinking of going to) talking about how they don’t believe that people should blame anxiety and that “everyone can get a 4.0”. I replied sharing my knowledge and understanding of “mental health” and personal experiences with people who are trying their hardest, but their obstacles are just too much to overcome. I have been trying my best to talk to people about it (my own fear). I talked to people I believe know me well, but it’s hard for those few voices to overcome the voices of many – society, the education system, and other voices that we place at a high significance.

Between fearing that I have not applied to programs for my highest potential or not even getting into the programs that I did apply to, you come to a crisis of “where do I even belong at all?” I am being pulled to believe that “I’m dumb because I didn’t apply to _____”, but also people making me  think “Why didn’t you apply to ________” because “you seem like the type to apply there.”

Between people who are discounting me too much (including myself), and people forgetting that this huge incident happened to me like just over a year ago (also including myself), it’s really difficult to see which side is most correct in their assumptions, or where the truth is along that scale.

When I get home, I feel down, I feel sick, I feel cold, and I feel tired, but above all, I feel afraid. Afraid that thing that I believe took a huge part of what I considered myself to be, took something that I cannot replace sufficiently anymore. I honestly feel robbed. Robbed by my circumstance. Robbed not of my future, but of the future that people expected of me. Maybe the choices I make now because of it really allowed me to get to my future earlier, but right now, I feel judged. I feel ashamed, and despite knowing what I think I really want, I still fear that that’s just not good enough for me because that’s what people and society have been telling me.

As much as we like to mock certain programs or schools, the people in those programs/schools/campuses are still people too. People with emotions, situations you may not be aware of, and as much as we love to generalize people these days, I find myself realizing the tone that gives off.

When people say ________________ is a waste school/program/whatever, that immediately downgrades everyone in it. It disregards specific circumstances, it disregards specific interests, and it turns these huge decisions (life decisions) into mathematical calculations. We may be investing in our future, but this investment isn’t something monetary.

Remember: we can’t all be CEOs, we can’t all be lawyers, we can’t all be doctors, some of us will just have to be other things that aren’t are prestigious and we will just have to be happy with that (that includes themselves too)- there’s no need to shame anyone.

So now, even after saying all of that, I still am having a difficult time with my decision (not that I even need to make one yet, I haven’t even gotten the official acceptances from the two choices that I’m debating between). At the end of the day, I’m not sure if I’m just saying these things because it represents how I really feel, or if I just got really good at making myself feel better.

Warmth.

Winter is coming, and I’m getting cold. The lack of proper circulation makes my right side feel numb and my toes feel like ice cubes and my fingers feel like popsicles. As I cozy up into my layers of sweaters and hoodies, I find myself heating up really quickly – feeling almost feverish at times when I am not dramatically shivering and chattering. It’s really hard to find an in-between. And as I am not comfortable with the temperature, I start to notice the many other things that just do not feel right.

I haven’t really noticed this until now but I love spending time alone. I haven’t even really noticed the fact that I am alone a lot, but as it’s been a couple months now, the feeling of being alone is sort of sinking in. Not having a band class to go to where you can just take a period to laugh at some silly jokes and make some beautiful music, or having a class with friends you have known for years. It’s really different, and although I’m doing alright (for now), I have no idea how long this can last. Clearly, with the number of times I’ve needed to see guidance and social work, I’m trying really hard to figure it all out, and I am finding the help I need.

My mom microwaves these heat pads to help with the aches. It seems that the idea of “warmth” is a large part of the healing process. Whether it be the warming laughter of friends, a comforting hug, or a heat pad settling onto a pair of tired shoulders, sometimes all we really need is some warmth. In many ways, I’ve begun to find new sources of this warmth from teachers, counselors, social workers, and new friends, but sometimes it’s never enough. And it seems almost unfair that I am needing all this help – taking time out of the schedules for these important people that can be using that time to help someone else. It’s just really hard to ask for help – even when I really need it. I feel like I’ve started to find that balance, but I can’t help but feel bad. I never used to look for shortcuts, I looked for more efficient ways to get to the same spot and definitely never actively relied on help from others (maybe pestered them with questions, but never additional help). However, as it seems to be a mile of roadblocks ahead, I may need to look for both. Even if that means losing out on part of the journey, I still need to get there eventually, and who knows how long it will take me now if I continue down the path I would have taken.

So…

Yes, you need help, Jessica.

No, this doesn’t mean you are stupid, it means you are struggling.

No, this won’t necessarily last forever.

Yes, you can do it – just keep trying.

Yes, even when you are very tired and want to quit.

Yes, now and forever.

 

 

Letting Go.

I had to make some tough calls this week. It was like I held all these balloons and one by one, they were deflating. I too was getting tired of holding them, they were tired of keeping themselves up. I just didn’t want to lose all my balloons…nor did I want to lose all my marbles.

I want to say that I did the right thing (I really hope I did), but no matter what, I think I will make it work. I like to think that the world is not one way or the other, and through whatever decisions you make, there are roads that can eventually lead back to wherever you feel you made the wrong turn. Unable to understand that concept before, I am beginning to realize that now.

Letting go of thoughts and plans you had for ages isn’t easy. Right when I feel like I haven’t put in enough work or haven’t tried hard enough, I have to remember that a little over a year ago, I couldn’t do basic math. I couldn’t remember how to speak, and I could not transfer myself to the chair next to my bed. Let alone be doing Advanced Functions, writing these blogs, and being able to wake up in my own bed not worried about forgetting how to walk, talk, and be me. Well, I’ll be damned. It seems we have a miracle here.

So sure, I can’t do things as well as I hoped, nor am I able to pursue some of the things I once dreamed of doing, but I can do others things. I can do new things that I never imagined myself doing, and there’s a sort of insight that people always seem to say I have that helps me understand and help others. And hey, shouldn’t that be everyone’s final goal: to be able to make the world or even just the people around us live happier? Live better? I think it should be.

A basket half full is better than a basket so overstuffed that the bottom breaks. In order to prevent myself from breaking, I chose to take things one step at a time and continue to develop my insight and adjust. It’s really difficult to try to know yourself, but it’s a good thing that I tried to figure things out early on. Things could have gotten a lot worse for me, and I’m glad I reached out. At the end of the day, you’re not gonna get anywhere unless you take the first steps yourself.

It’s never easy saying goodbye, but in addition to the goodbyes I’ve said to my friends, I had to say some extra goodbyes to parts of myself that I never thought would just leave.

And in the words of Natasha Bedingfield…

… the rest is still unwritten.

There may be some difficulties in your path, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Sometimes, there is beauty in the difficult times/paths. That’s why it’s harder to get through, so for those that do succeed, it’s really, really worth it.

Castle.

…the most precious things inside your castle are not jewels and treasure, it’s your ideas, your thoughts and opinions, and possibly most important of all – your emotions.
Protect them with all you got.

I like to think of this new dent in my skull as the moat that protects my brain, my castle. Inside this castle of mine are all the things that you would dream of in any castle. It has a king, the master of decision-making and the ruler of all my final decisions. It has a queen, the supporter of the king and the one that makes him rethink and make decisions carefully, and offer her love and support in his decisions. There’s of course a joker that is clever and funny, but like the one in King Lear is wise and thoughtful. Inside this mind stores a princess who is naive and vain but also a prince that is rebellious and tired of listening to what the king tells him. There are the knights that keep watch and protect the castle from bad thoughts that seem flooding in more and more often, and also a chef that cooks up goodness and heartiness when things get tough. There are the servants that serve loyally and that are there to remind the royalty that there are always those less fortunate, but somehow make it work. And of course, there is a draw-bridge that blocks off bad people and bad thoughts unless I am willing to let them in – giving me a second chance to decide and truly think about everything that I let into my mind and thoughts.

It’s complicated inside. Sometimes certain people are louder than the others, and at times, it gets so loud that everyone might as well be silent. Before everything happened, I never thought I would need a moat. I let people come in easily, but let them go even easier. I didn’t know how to hold on to those I wanted to stay and how to solely let in the ones I needed. Now, although not perfect, I have a better sense of what to do, and I hope you also begin to rethink your own castles. To better protect your mind, thoughts, and feelings, because the most precious things inside your castle are not jewels and treasure, it’s your ideas, your thoughts and opinions, and possibly most important of all – your emotions. 

Protect them with all you got.

Anniversary.

It’s been exactly a year since I was hit with the biggest news in my life. It would be the last morning I would wake up in my own room for a couple of months. When I would go back I would see the whiteboard of my daily to-dos still say the date of my optometry appointment – seemingly dried so much that it was almost staining the board.

I can’t believe how long this year has felt. It has felt like honestly a lifetime. A lifetime of suffering, a lifetime of changes, a lifetime of amazing moments good and bad alike. I’ve changed so much. I’ve grown so much. And yet, I am still the same me I have always been.

It’s odd how pain works. It can make you irritable. It can make you sad. It can make you wish it was all over, or it can make you dream of a better place. I’ve been through all the range of emotions, but recently, the pain keeping me from blissful dreams has led me to beautiful creations. It occurred to me tonight that it has been almost exactly a year since I published my “first” post on the 30th . It would be exactly a year since it all went down.

I was reminded it would be soon when WordPress sent me a message congratulating me on opening the account a year ago, and that reminded me that I started this blog a couple days before things went south. And I’m not talking about geese migration…

Honestly, I’m kind of happy that it’s been a year since I was hospitalized. It means that I’ve survived a year after the biggest scare of my life. I should have really kept track of all my other milestones (e.g. first shower again, first words, first movements, first steps…). But would I really want to remember? I’m not sure.

It seems all those haunting memories a year ago somehow always keep me up at night, but I have forgotten the specifics of my progress. But I haven’t forgotten all of it.

The first night at the hospital I got a TV, I recall watching “Just for Laughs: Gags” and laughing like a maniac. I just wanted to laugh (but also the drugs I was on made me extra loopy I would think). I remember getting bags of chips from the vending machine and limiting myself to a handful of chips a day. Even getting Hickory Sticks so I could pick them one by one to make it seem like it was lasting longer. I can recall walking laps around the hospital before my surgery to get my exercise – not knowing that it would be my last steps for a long while. I recall my nurses being amazing people and one in particular that I loved. She would bring me down to the MRI room wheeling me down the platform with a partner. It was like a safer rollercoaster ride. People like her made it bearable. I remember my PT + OT in the hospital. I was ecstatic to see my PTs as they called the rehab gym just a “gym” and that made me feel like I was working out at the L’amoureaux CRC gym again. The OT sessions were important but so frustrating. I had to do these exercises that felt impossible. Squeezing a sponge? Sorcery. Holding chopsticks? Impossible. Opening and closing my palm? Intense workout.

It truly amazes me how much I’ve improved. I would like to believe that is courtesy of my undying efforts to get here, but it isn’t just me, it takes a bunch of people! And the most miraculous thing is that these people that make the biggest impact on you don’t just do it for you, they do it for many others. Every life that they touch – no matter for how brief a time – are changed for the better. That to me, is something pretty miraculous.

I must also take this time to realize and understand that such anniversaries of tragedies haunt people. It doesn’t just hurt the person that it initially affected, but it once again hurts those that love and care about that sufferer – which only makes it MORE vital that we take these anniversaries of events to be there for one another. It’s a time we must stand together and offer love and open arms.

I am guilty of this as well. I always wanted to be the “woe is me, feel bad for me” person – often leading me to brush off other people’s personal obstacles.

Looking through my old books, I picked out the ones that were the most memorable. There were many books, some dystopian, some more realistic. They were books that outlined the journeys of others. The fictional stories about people going through real-life problems like drug-addiction, self-harm, mental disorders, etc. were the ones I remember most. I guess that was where my interest in psychology and helping people started. As I read the novels, I could hear them calling out to me. I wanted so much to help them – which is why I got so good at asking for help. Well, I try. This might be the “insight” that all my therapists say I have. The reason I am so insightful is because I’ve read stories about others. I’ve analyzed their issues, and I’m only beginning to analyze mine.

 

I guess, this is it.

Happy anniversary to me. It’s been one year since the most traumatic day of your life.

How has it been? – Hard

How do you feel? – OK

Are you sure? – I think so.

Okay.

Alright.

Keep on keeping on.

Full Potential.

A common myth is that humans use only 10% of their brain. Instead, we actually use close to every part of the brain and it’s active all the time.

So, what happens when a skull is sliced open and a mass in the centre of it taken out? Does that alter the potential of the person since they use close to every part of their brain? What changes when the various parts of the brain are moved even slight portion of a millimeter. Something has to happen, right? – every cause has an effect.

How can I tell what is temporary effect and what is a permanent effect? How can I tell what will stay with me forever and what will continue to improve? It’s impossible, and as my own TEDx Talk speech tells me, I should stop trying to predict the future. But I really can’t help it. I have to constantly tell myself to let it go and learn to live. However, I am finding it rather hard to learn to live in the moment knowing that I would not recall my own moments just an hour or two later. I was always a person that likes to document things and go through a meticulous process to ensure I have everything. Now however, without some sort of reminder (I try to have at least 4 different ones now in case I miss one of them) I would not even remember to start that meticulous process.

So the question now is “What was my full potential before this happened?” and “How can I get myself back to that?”

I was always told to explore my options to get a glimpse of what my full potential would be. I tried to explore a variety of options through my interests: DECA for my interest in marketing, volunteering in long-term care and now at the rehab youth council for my interest in sciences and psychology, etc. But as I would stress to make these large time commitments fit into my schedule, my parents would be afraid of the stress it would give me. It’s all based around my mentality of  aiming to”be the best and never settle for less”. In the short-term it’s an adequate goal for one assignment or one year, but as a person who’s been living their life like that for a couple years, it’s been pretty draining. Before, I could maintain being the best in a lot of things, or close to the best, but right now, I am not the best in the majority of the things I do.  Unable to use my usual techniques of just spending more time and making it better, I find myself in an odd position of having enough time to perfect things, but not enough brain power or concentration to find the ways to make it that 100% that I aim for. For the first time in my life I have enough time to perfect something, but not enough energy and not enough brain power to do so.

I’ve hit a wall. For the first time ever, I know what’s ahead of the wall, but cannot seem to push past it. This reminds me of a phrase my parents would use: 撞板 (directly translated to: hitting a board). It basically means screwing up so hard it causes a new form of stress or confusion because you are momentarily stuck and stopped.

—————————————————————–

It’s now the end of the school-year (for me at least). My exams are finished, and just now am I getting back to this post which I’ve left as a draft for months now. It’s really odd reading my writing from just a couple months ago and think about how I must have felt emotionally to be able to write such strong messages. I am always astonished by myself. “What the heck, how was I so articulate??”. As I lay on my bed looking up at the lines on the ceiling brought in my the sunlight shining through my blinds, I find myself in a state of tranquility but also complete fear. I need to be doing something. I NEED TO BE DOING SOMETHING. I should be cleaning my room. I should be studying for my G1. I should be studying material for next year. I should be finding a job – no – working at a job, but that’s all too late. What if everything is just too late? What if I’ve been trying to hard to get ahead that I’ve actually put myself so far back that there’s no way to get to where I wanted to be?

As I try to quiet my mind and calm my heart, I read the posters on my wall – over and over again. As I try to face my future, I am faced with my past and struggle to find a way to get passed all of this. I continue to try to imagine the various ways my future can play out, and the best way to use the resources I have to make the best ‘me’ possible. And I just can’t seem to figure it out – not even a rough idea. And although I base all of my life’s actions on trying to reach my fullest potential, I don’t think I’ve taken the right steps to do so. I begin to wonder if everyone that has gone through some sort of emotional trauma experiences all these thoughts that I’m having and feel immense anxiety. Does everyone feel this terrible feeling and I’m just the only one putting it into words? I really hope not.

In a world where we are so obsessed with quantitative measurements like a mark out of 100, the number of zeros on a paycheck or the number on a scale, how much attention are we putting on things that we cannot measure with numbers? But I guess those qualitative things don’t matter for bigger things like university acceptances, or if you have enough to feed your family. At the same time, is a lavish lifestyle worth a lifetime of physical and emotional pain? Darn, these things are more difficult to figure out than the grade 12 math equations I am supposed to learn.

It is like I am searching to fill a void inside myself. I have to be doing something because I feel as though I am nothing without it. I guess years of defining myself around my achievements and activities finally caught up to me. Who am I as a person? What is my personal worth? Is my potential just based around my achievements or is there something else I can do to make myself feel important? I’ve been doing a lot to fix this problem and be a better person. I’ve been trying to be a better friend, daughter, student, etc, but it just never seems to suffice. Now, I’m just basing my significance on those around me. No. That doesn’t work either. So,  I guess I need to keep on searching. Keep on building up myself to be someone that I can appreciate and admire. For some, that may never come, but I think we owe it to ourselves to try.

 **Written a long while ago…left sitting as a draft…