Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I put together a team each year to raise funds and walk in fundraisers for breast cancer. Our team was …STOP The Sexualization of Breast Cancer
Bing bong bing bong bong bong bing bong (Big Ben chimes doorbell)
Me: who is it?
Depression: oh an old friend!
Me: [excited because I’ve been isolated for seven months, opens door expectantly] Oh, no. It’s you. How did you get our new address?
Depression: I can find you anywhere at any time in anyplace so anyway I’d like to talk to your husband.
Me: [through a barely opened door crack] It seems you’ve already been talking to him behind my back!
Depression: Oh, he he, yeah that. Well, I’m always around…in the garage, the workshop, sitting in his office. He and I have a pact. If he’s laying down I come visit him and ruminate along with him, kind of like meditation.
Me: I was under the impression he is meditating, at least that’s what he’s been telling me.
Depression: HA! That’s funny. He tells you he’s meditating? Oh, good one. He’s finally learned, goodness he’s a stubborn one. He’s meditating alright. Rumination, meditation, what’s the difference?
Me: I’m very disappointed, let me come out there on the front porch, I’d prefer he not know you’re here. I love him and love is stronger than darkness and depression. [I try abc hold back my nearly audible angry tears…not again I say to myself.]
Depression: Well, I got news for ya toots, he’s been cheating on you with me.
[I slip out the front door and quietly shut it behind me careful not to let it see our new house.]
Now out in front of the house:
Depression: Oh very nice inside, I’ve already seen it, been around during those inexplicable arguments, when he tells you to “leave him alone” it’s because I’m there. I’m just good at hiding. You never do see me coming do you?
Me: Oh, I think you’re not as smart as you believe. That’s when I try my best to show him love and caring, make sure he knows I’m here for him. Love heals depression. Well…That and his psychiatrist and his medication.
Depression: Well, when was the last time he had his meds adjusted or saw his psychiatrist? And if you really believe love can beat me, you’re sorely mistaken.
Me: You don’t stand a chance in hell against me. Our trust will see us through. He knows you’re lying to him he just can’t always find the strength to remember sometimes and he pushes me away for a while, but I’m stronger than you. And I know all too well when you’re around.
Depression: Ha. Stupid woman. Drugs may have worked for a while, but I think you’re really overstating your importance. More like impotence aren’t you. I know your sex life goes down the tubes so to speak when I’m around, just like his hygiene. Haha haha. Stinks, doesn’t it?
Me: you’re an asshole. Is your partner anxiety with you?
Depression: Of course, didn’t you notice he was here last week. You were at your oncologist appointment and he knew you would be gone for enough time – didn’t his son push the right buttons while you, poor thing, were getting poked and prodded three hours away. Oh, we also have a contact at your oncologist’s office.
Me: Why can’t you just pick on someone else? No, let me take that back – no one deserves to feel this way. Why don’t you just piss off and die, both of you?
Depression: Oh we wouldn’t do that, and besides we are having a great time during Covid. Lots of new recruits to play with. I mean, we can’t seem to get through to you, but there’s thousands if not millions of people who have a really hard time with isolation and not seeing friends or the people they love. Covid has taken over the hardest part of our job!
Me: This won’t go on forever – you’ll have to go back to working twice as hard again. And by the way some of us are just not going to let you in, since we have no proclivity for being depressed.
Depression: Don’t worry we are not giving up. We will eventually get in your door too. Besides there are plenty better candidates than you for now. Lots more people with cancer who will relent to that negative self talk “why me?” “What did I do to deserve cancer?” “I’m such a loser I can’t even get better with chemotherapy.” “Where did all my friends go? Why am I so alone and afraid?” Oh those are my cues to put a dark veil over their minds, let them sleep all the time, and if the cancer doesn’t kill them…
Me: You’re a sick sick thing. Go away, he’s calling me and I don’t want him knowing you’re here. I’m going to hug him and put on some of his favorite music and get him out in the sunshine today.
Depression: [nearly invisible and hardly audible] Shit, no wonder we can’t get in, he’s a little stronger and you know what we are allergic to…but I’m always around…gasp…cough…I’ll see you soon…gasp…I promise you…wheeze cough…I…
Slipping inside I slam shut and lock the front door and go to wake up my crabby morning hubby. “Honey let’s get out today I’ll make us some lattes. Take a shower and shave so I can kiss your handsome face, and let’s sing and play guitar for a while. I’m gonna put on some music.”
Meanwhile the 70 degree temperature and bright blue sky along with the birds coming to bathe in the fountain in front of the house remind me that the world is full of memories not yet made and there’s much to be thankful for. I remember that love, patience, guidance and above all a commitment to my gratitude to having our happiness uninterrupted by this other disease that lives silently in the dark corners of our life isn’t going to visit us today and I hope not for a long time to come.
May you find peace and hope in these strange and difficult days.
Marie Ennis-O’Connor revisits the theme of patient empowerment to investigate what, if anything, has changed since her 2018 post.
— Read on powerfulpatients.org/2020/09/22/patient-empowerment-revisited-what-does-it-truly-mean-to-patients/