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.

Anxiety.

As I pick-pick-pick at my acne and obsess-obsess-obsess over little things that I know I shouldn’t worry about, there are very little things that I can productively do to combat my emotional struggles. I got rid of my gaming habits (arguably too well, I can’t even get myself to play those games anymore), I unsubscribed/unfollowed so many channels and pages trying to get myself to concentrate that scrolling through social media is no longer interesting to me, and as much as it pains me to say, I already finished all the shows on Netflix that I want to watch and cannot risk starting a show that will take too long to finish anymore.

The only things that I CAN still do are listen to music and read – things that take concentration and getting into. Unfortunately, the anxious thoughts always come flowing back to me except when it’s the middle of the night – in darkness. But it’s still sort of hard to read in the dark.

 

Over the break or holidays, if there is something that’s on my mind, I tend to overthink about it even more rather than simply enjoy my time. So obviously, it will be a lot worse over this break when it’s the break where I await university replies and a final exam when I return. On top of that, I have a test to hand-in, as well as a rather different and riskier article for the school newspaper likely being published.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I’m at a point when I am worried about these things rather than something related to my health. But, could worrying about this be negatively affecting my health? – Mental + Physical?

I’m terrified of not getting into a program that I love – especially since feel as though I am already in a way “settling” for something not as difficult. Staying back another year would be tedious and unnecessary, I’m starting to worry that this year is already too difficult for me to handle. I am so tired of my friends not being here with me at school, and myself – eating lunch alone, spending my time studying by myself in the library during spares, and missing out on all of the fun things about being a high school student (the things that I used to do). Things like sports, an assortment of clubs, the music program, etc. are the things that made high school worthwhile and interesting, but now that I am struggling to keep up with so many things, I feel like just as much as I cut out a lot of the unproductive social things done in my spare time, I also am unable to do as much of the fun interesting stuff (either because of time, or physical limitations now). Maybe, a part of it is also the mental aspects of it – I just don’t know how I fit in with the crowd anymore. I may have lost my place in the school.

An injury in general impacts a person greatly. Now, make that a brain injury during a crucial part of one’s life that has left someone still physically and mentally impaired in many ways – well, that’s just gosh darn unfortunate. I probably would have still felt the anxiety I feel right now, but at least I wouldn’t need to feel as self-conscious and afraid knowing that I am going through this with everyone else I knew. Sometimes I just find myself feeling so alone – then again, who isn’t?

 

 

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.

 

 

The Burn.

I feel the fire within my soul screaming at me to reach my potential.

But, I also feel the tension within me as I ache;

My muscles and bones are set ablaze whenever I try to move them.

 

I feel the burning desire to continue on and show the world who I can be.

But, I also feel the acid scorch my throat when my meal travels backward;

My eyes burn from the consequent tears.

 

Fire is fighting with fire, and I am not sure who is going to win –

I just don’t want to be the one to lose.

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.

Me, myself, and I.

I need to take time for me.

I need to take time for myself.

I need to take some time to be who am.

I had a dream, a dream to be the best me I could be. As I was neared what should have been my projected “peak”, I was suddenly hit with something that drove me all the way down – crashing through expected new levels of low.

It took away everything I knew about myself, and all the years I took adapting to being in school and finding what worked best for me was suddenly irrelevant. I was introduced to a whole new world; one that I cannot seem to find my way in.

How I process the environment around me, my ability to multi-task, and my usually keen ability to focus on one specific task now just seems to drown out in the war zone that is my mind – my new broken mind. It’s weird to think that the dreams you had for the at least 5 years of school are suddenly so dramatically affected, and not by choice. So now, as I focus on my notes and my agenda filled with many and multiple brightly coloured reminders, I wonder if I can keep this up forever. How long will it be until I go completely insane? Or will it last until almost forever?

I think I need to start listening to myself more. Taking the time to somehow block out the bad thoughts, negative emotions, and assignments, tests, or presentations and somehow find something within me that will answer all these questions. I need to stop trying to predict the future and try to find a way to begin creating my future. I must make choices that I wouldn’t have made two years ago, and somehow convince myself that it’s okay.

As I double-checked my alarm before bed at 1:20am, I feel a deep, dark feeling of dread – something that is telling me to stop. To be fine with not doing exactly what I wanted to do, but also realize that some things are better to realize sooner than later. I’m trying really hard to realize it sooner.

Currently, I do not know what I am going to do. I am very lost, and there isn’t a recipe to create a better future or a guidebook to living, nor is there a map to your destiny. My fears go beyond forgetting something I need for a test, it’s forgetting how to get home one day because something went wrong in my head. It’s about the fear of forgetting who some of the most important people in my life are. My mind was already complicated and loud, but now I cannot seem to separate out the thoughts that are important from the ones that are irrational fears.

I looked at myself in the mirror today and was confused at who stared back. I stared at a girl who was lost in herself and lost in her world – fearful of what’s to come and tired of being this way. I hope she finds her way. I can tell she is trying really, really hard.

 

Strength.

What is strength anyways?

It could be defined as physical strength, and even then it could be arm strength, leg strength, and core strength and more. It could also be mental strength,  the brain is a muscle of course. So as much as the gym is strength training, life is strength training as well. Everyday you’re faced with various challenges. Think of every problem you deal with as a rep.  Maybe today you’re trying to pass a math test, each chapter you study could count as one repetition. Soon enough, you’re “strong” and can do spectacular on your test. But if there are so many varieties of strength, how do we compare our strength?

I think everyone has some sort of strength which also comes with weaknesses. For instance, if you’re a powerlifter, chances are, you won’t be the most graceful gymnast. However, both of those skills are recognized as a talent to want. I’ve wanted to be all of those things at some point. I wanted to be the top scholar, fastest runner, best at makeup and nail art, funniest (or punniest), most beautiful, team captain, and pretty much everything else that’s possible to “win” at. Competition drives improvement. If we didn’t have a desire to be the best, nothing would ever change in the world. Diseases wouldn’t be cured, we should all look the same, and without change, it can only get worst. So competition is great.  Dog eat dog worlds are scary,  but still great. Even numbness creates strength. I can barely feel my right leg right now, but it’s stronger than my left leg.  Maybe I’m trying to compensate for what I don’t feel, but I guess that in itself is a metaphor. If it doesn’t feel right, try something else or try harder. Even my legs are trying to improve themselves subconsciously.

Strength is about improvement.  Strength is about not giving up. Strength is about saying fuck you world, I have more to accomplish. Strength is about crying but for a good reason. Strength is about being unselfish, but still giving yourself a chance at what you want. It is not losing yourself to please others, but it is also not losing others to please yourself. I realize that sounds ironic.  How can you do both? I guess that means that strength also means making the right decisions based on the situation. No, you probably can’t be a vegan and be a top bodybuilder, but who’s there to stop you if you tried?

You’re probably thinking I’m being melodramatic.  “You’re not even dying yet Jessica,  what do you know about any of this?” But if you think like that, then where is the line of when you have the right to say these things and think this way? Who knows. This isn’t “1984” , there’s no thought police. But there is always Big Brother. There’s always some sort of set of rules to guide us (possibly in the wrong direction) and there’s always people willing to go against those rules. If you make it your life goal to follow all the rules, it can be a show of strength. If you make it your goal to go against those rules, that’s strength too.  After all of this, I still have no idea what strength really is. However, I still believe strength is about yourself. If you feel stronger, you probably are stronger.

So, strength isn’t completely comparable. You can compare individual components of strength, maybe an arm wrestling contest or a math competition, but no one can be the “world’s strongest person”. Maybe I’ll win at something today,  but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be the best tomorrow. At any moment, there’s someone better than you at something else. That’s the beauty of it. You can always improve. We want to be selfish and terrible people so we can become the best person we can be.

Life is a game against ourselves. For a place where we compete against others all the time, we don’t get many “great job,  you improved ribbons”. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep track of our own accomplishments.  Today, I won the most UNO games against my parents and I was the patient that walked the most circles around floor 9. Congratulations Jessica, you did something today–realizing your greatness is the first step to being truly great.

So let’s all throw our hands in the air (wave them around like we just don’t care) and say my name is __________, and I’m great.  I’m strong. I’m amazing. And there’s gotta be something that that I can kick your ass in today.