It’s quite nice that a handful of people have described this blog as inspirational. It’s certainly not been my intention to inspire. For me it’s been more about filling the time and, perhaps, trying to keep myself relevant and remind people I’m still here. It’s also a coping mechanism.
I’ve gone through a series of emotions since diagnosis. The first one wasn’t so much sadness or depression but more a desire to get my affairs in order. At that stage, seven months ago, I thought I had six months to live!
I don’t have many personal belongings but a handful were thrown out. Potential heirlooms were put in a box. Nothing of value, just stuff the might have an emotional kick for the kids. Made a will. Sorted out the pension / inheritance for the kids. Practicalities. Minimise the work for people when I’m out of here.
The second phase was tearful. Not in front of others. I’m British don’t you know! But cancer charities throwing out pre-Christmas adverts affected me deeply. I know raising money by flogging stars to people who’ve lost someone to cancer is a good idea but it didn’t do me much good. Perhaps something else would have triggered the waterworks if those ads hadn’t happened. Perhaps it was good to get it out of my system.
That period coincided with the realisation that people are there for me. Family and friends going out of their way to help. From my perspective, the best thing you can do when you discover somebody has been diagnosed with cancer is to get in touch and, even if only occasionally, stay in touch. Even if you don’t know what to say or feel hellishly awkward.
The third phase was the realisation that I didn’t want to work anymore. Notwithstanding I was a little less mobile. I was due to start applying for new jobs as my current role was scheduled to end the following May. The idea of applying for jobs, selling my dying body to potential new managers and putting across a positive, committed and interested tone in job interviews simply wasn’t something I could do.
Maybe they’d have accommodated me employment wise anyway without interviews. But the idea of travelling had taken hold. I’d planned three holidays a year in my carefully crafted “retire between age 53 and 55 plan”. I had to accelerate my travel programme. I’d like to think I was being generous in saving somebody else from redundancy. Not a bit of it. I wanted my middle manager severance payment to pay for my travels!
Which leads to now. I’m travelling. And apparently I’m inspiring some. While that’s a nice thought I’ve never sat down with the thought “I’ve got to blog in a way that gets people punching the air with an enthusiasm for life”. I’ve just tried to put across my world as it is. Share my plans and activities. Admit my idiosyncrasies. Remain relevant. Those last two words feel inexplicably important.
I’ve done depression more than once in life. It isn’t fun. While I know the end game here won’t be happy clappy I’ve no intention of reaching it by being miserable. I’m going out with a smile. Or more a diagonal line if the Bell’s palsy doesn’t feck off!