Last Monday morning I watched, wide awake, as my alarm clock went off and quickly tapped the snooze button. Toby had joined our two-in-the-bed party and made it a threesome at about 4am and I didn’t go back to sleep. I needed the sleep. I was facing into a round trip from Ballydehob to Dublin for my bi-annual breast appointment. To be fair, the lack of sleep wasn’t totally down to my wriggly toddler claiming tenancy rights lengthways across my bed. I never sleep well before these appointments. As they approach I always worry that I’ve been sailing on a borrowed cancer free cloud for the last six months and this will be the appointment that brings it all crashing down. I try and brush it off. I try to focus and I try to be positive. But it’s bloody hard. It consumes you. It’s hard to explain and it’s hard to talk to anyone about it.
But last Monday I asked for help. I asked my consultant is there someone I can talk to. And there is. You just have to ask. Funny that. ASK. Please, if you’re feeling down just ask. I confess that I never would have thought to ask myself. I was spurred on by a conversation I had moments before my appointment. I am honoured to have been asked to speak at the Marie Keating Foundation’s seminar on BRCA in April. I had a meeting about it before my appointment and I had to tell my story to the organiser of the conference. Over a coffee in the large expanse of St. James’ Hospital reception I poured my heart out to a complete stranger. And it felt GOOD! From my results, starting marriage with BRCA, to my pregnancy, leaving my job, selling my house, pressure to wean, MRIs, moving house a million times, waking up everyday checking for lumps… An hour and a bit later she’s asking who I’m talking to? Who is helping me with all of this stress I’m carrying? It’s almost three years carrying the weight of the world. Writing down some thoughts every now and again for you lot to read doesn’t really count as therapy, or does it? But no matter how honest I am, you’ll only ever get an abridged version of events. Naturally.
Stressed? Ok, I guess I am. Worried, absolutely. Always. Everyday. Pressure? Yes, schedules, time-lines, five year plans condensed into months. And the answer to her question is no-one. Not really. Not the help I probably need to manage my stress. So I asked. And I shall receive.
If you encounter someone in your day today that you find hard or cold, intimidating or confrontational, all I ask is that you take a moment to understand that there’s probably so much more going on in their life than you can comprehend. And they may not have asked for help yet.