Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Getting Counsel in the Right Places

Finding the right person to talk to about having, or had cancer or any problems you may have with being a supporter or friend can be extremely difficult. You want to find someone you are comfortable with, someone who can listen and respond the way you want them to, and to be the person you can discuss anything with. The right outlet for stress like this is so important yet often difficult, sometimes impossible to find. And no doubt, I have plenty of stress even a year out of treatment.

The problem I have with this is I am still not sure who to discuss my problems with. All of my friends have their own problems, most of my family doesn't want to discuss my issues with cancer because they want to be "done" with it (fair enough) and the people who were around for my cancer treatments have dealt with enough as far as I am concerned. I haven't bothered my friends because most live far away and it is very difficult to talk to them when you need to as a result. No fault of theirs, that is just the way it is.

I have started trying a few different types of counseling with mixed reviews.

The first thing I tried was an online group. These seemed to be the "easiest" because people didn't really need to see me, and while I was going through chemo, this was very important for me. I didn't want people to see me. However, being 26 and dealing with cancer, I was not in an ideal group. I had a lot of people with families, children, "adult problems". They were not really my problems. I ended up either not understanding their problems (obviously they are important but I don't know what it is like to have a child or be retired). And moreover, I ended up being a support for them, telling them they were doing a great job at whatever they were doing, and although it was great to support people, it added to the stress I already had so it became a huge emotional drain while going through treatment. I had to go to the meetings (online) so they would be okay, not me. It is so important to take care of yourself while going through chemo.

I also tried talking to nurses who treated me as well as other patients at the ward I was treated at. Again, not a lot of commonalities. everyone was older than me. It is hard to tell a fellow patient at 60+ that everything is fine when really deep down you are upset that they may of had 30 more years then you get. And then you just feel guilty that you had longer than someone much younger than you. I found this to be a bad spiral so I ditched this too.

Recently, I have started one on one counsel. I think it is okay so far, but I am still not sure how this is going to go. It is easy to tell people that I don't know what happened to me. It is nice so far to get some things off my chest, but I feel until my counselor gets to know me and my problems it is difficult to say whether it is working or not. Being told my concerns and problems are "normal" isn't necessary helpful, but it is nice to have them acknowledged.

One of the biggest surprises for me for an outlet to deal with some things, has been, as silly as it sounds, my blog, and on twitter. Just to be able to write things down and get it off my chest has been a huge relief. And furthermore, I have been able to connect with many people going through similar things. As silly as it sounds, I am thankful for twitter and the internet in helping me deal with some of my issues. I can freely express myself and you find helpful advice from people you have never met all over the world. It is kind of nice.

I think the big problem I have had lies in the fact that I find it very difficult to connect with people after going through cancer treatment. I don't find a lot of people my age who have gone through similar stress or know "how to listen" quite yet. I am still looking to figure this out and find the right people to talk to. I know it is important to find the right way to deal with all the concerns I have now, the uncertainty, and a lot of other problems that come with survivorship. 

At least now, I have started to try to deal with the problem. And I think that is an important step. 

I just hope I can find the right outlet soon because, to be honest, the after effects, the constant check ups, and the taking care of everyone else around me before taking care of myself has completely worn me down.

Finding the right counsel is important. It took me a long time to admit I needed to talk about many of these things. That is the first step, but finding the right person (people) to connect with on this remains a struggle, but it is something I will continue to work on. To quote a line from what is arguably my favorite song "I'm still alive" (Alive, Pearl Jam), and as a result, I will continue to work on myself and make things "better".

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