I can't connect with my mind. It's very disconcerting. I'm a completely different person from the person who I was two years ago. I read blog posts sometimes, by other people who have experienced cancer or other distressing life events. And some of them reflect this disconnectedness, while others of them say that they feel much like the same person they were before. I'm not talking about the "dark gift" idea I've mentioned before, about how the forced glare into the depth of mortality shakes your foundation or any of the enlightenment mumbo jumbo I also like to talk about sometimes. I'm talking more deeply about identity itself.
It is hard to explain where I fit in this spectrum of me. I'm still Natasha. But I have distinct feeling of loss of continuity. I have felt this way frequently about my past. I don't feel at all like the person I was when I lived in Iran, or any of the several other countries I moved about in when I was young. Or even the same person I was in New York, or Rhode Island. Or California. Do you know what I mean? I've felt like my life is a series of people, instead of a continuous, changing person? And then not from the moment of diagnosis itself, not from then -- but sometime between then and now, I've lost my connection with that person I was before. I can't tell the exact moment of the rift, but I find myself looking back over this chasm of personality. And I didn't change into this new person. I just ... stopped being the person I was, but showed up in this other person, with that former person's expectations. So I'm constantly surprising myself. I'm often an observer in my own new, different, complicated brain. I watch myself having thoughts and feelings that I don't recognize as my own, and then I meta-think about them. "Oh yeah - I guess these are my thoughts and feelings now. Who am I, who is having these weird thoughts, which I don't recognize?" It's so unusual, to me. I've had these dissociated moments where I watch myself. It was pretty literal during some periods of extreme stress - like on chemo days, for example, I'd just be watching myself taking the steps to the room, and sitting down, and getting poisoned, but I wouldn't FEEL like it was actually happening to me, at all. Like it was a play? Does that make sense? And that's a really healthy, protective mental trick, I think. But now I feel like I just have no idea who I am, sometimes, at random times of the day, not just during a stressful time. Because the way I interpret the world is different from the way I used to.... and it doesn't make sense to the "me" who is watching what's going on in there. It doesn't feel wrong, and it doesn't feel right -- it's just different, and not me. It's someone else. Who? Who though? I don't know who I am.
I miss myself. I miss feeling integrated, so that I didn't get these weird "out of sync" experiences at random times of the day. Life's hard enough, with all its weird twists, to have to do your best all day consciously about everything. It's exhausting to think about thinking. It's hard to lose that ease of just being without thinking about being. No more flow.
I was taking some stimulant medications to see if we could get my mind back in gear, but they made me really irritable. I'm already irritable from the treatment fatigue that isn't leaving anytime soon, and the menopause that has aged me before my time, and adding the neurochemical irritability was turning me into the wild witch of the northwest. So I'm not taking those any more, which has made me much more pleasant to be around. And again left me a bit at loose ends when I try to think in a straight line for a few minutes.
But I managed to get a couple of weeks of meal planning done successfully, so that's something.
I'm also going to a couple of die-ins. I wrote about this on Facebook, but I know you guys aren't all on Facebook. I can't blog about everything, because that take a lot of mental energy. Facebook is thinking-lite. This blog post? I've been thinking about writing it for about three weeks. Anyhow: I'll be at the Seattle die-in on Sunday this week, and at the Washington DC die in on October 13.
Here is a copy-and-paste of my Facebook post about that:
Hi! I am really excited about the new grassroots push to change the public's perception of breast cancer led by the newly-formed organization MET UP -- among other action items, they are organizing die-ins in various locations. People (cancer patients, supporters, friends, etc.) will lay down in various locations nationwide to represent the people who die every day of breast cancer. I'm attending a die in Seattle on Sept 27 at the Space Needle (https://www.facebook.com/events/1078666925490667/), and another die-in on the west lawn of the US Capitol(!!!!!) on October 13 (https://www.facebook.com/events/912441292131635/).
If you are in or near Washington DC please consider joining us October 13. We need many many more attendees at this and other nationwide die-ins to reach the ultimate goal - 1430 people lying down to represent the 1430 people estimated to die daily from breast cancer.
Pinktober is coming, people, it is COMING. If we act together, maybe we can make headway in finding a way to stop watching our friends and loved ones die of breast cancer, instead of watching football players run around in pink cleats.
Hope all y'all had a nice summer! Ciao.