I Couldn’t Consider how I felt, I Couldn’t risk it, I Would fall Apart.

I read these facts whilst perusing the #CCAM  feature on CLIC Sargeant’s Website this morning:

Key facts:

  • 63% of parents experienced depression during their child’s treatment
  • 37% of parents experienced panic attacks during their child’s treatment
  • 95% of parents experienced anxiety during their child’s treatment
  • 84% of parents experienced loneliness during their child’s treatment
  • Only 37% of parents accessed support for managing stress and anxiety during their child’s treatment

95% of parents experienced anxiety during their child’s treatment. When cancer strikes young lives, CLIC Sargent helps the whole family cope.

This got me thinking about my own mental health and Felix’s diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.   Have I been depressed, experienced anxiety or loneliness?  Do you what – I don’t know.  It’s all a bit of a blur really and it feels like the emotions and feelings pass in waves.  I do have two distinct memories where I felt as though things were crashing in on me.

There was one occasion, in the early days, when Felix had been admitted to hospital with an infection.  My husband was staying in with him and I was on my way home to my other two children.  On the way home I popped into the supermarket to get a few bits.  I can remember aimlessly walking up and down the aisles, exhausted from emotion, wondering how much stress your body could take.  I knew that I was reaching capacity.  I felt so alone, so desperate, so sad.  I couldn’t do anything to take the pain away from my child and family who were all suffering so much.  I felt raw to the bone.  I felt like I was shrinking away amongst these people, the crowds, the queues.  I couldn’t do this.  I didn’t buy anything, I went home and slept.

There was another occasion when we had embarked on a camping trip with the family.  We were so desperate to doing something fun and normal – all of us together, making memories.  Felix had just finished the Delayed Intensification phase, he had no hair, he was bloated because of the steroids and had weak legs because of the vincristine.  I woke that night in a state of blind panic:  what were we doing here, in a field, what if he gets ill, what if I don’t hear him? I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t get my thoughts together, I had to get out.  I took myself out of the tent and stilled myself.  I was shocked and scared by the strength and depth of this emotion.  The fear and exhaustion of the previous seven months had been suppressed long enough.  This fear and exhaustion could no longer be contained.

I’ve never really spoken about either of these events – how could I when Felix was going through so much?  My priority was keeping things together for Felix, his sister and brother, my husband, our extended family and friends.  At that time, I couldn’t consider how I felt, I couldn’t risk it, I would fall apart.

In recent months, I have been able to consider my mental health with the love and support of another Oncology Mum.  Together we are exploring the waves of emotion we feel and considering the impact of this trauma on our well-being.  We are both using the therapy of writing to contemplate how having a child with cancer has impacted our perspective, actions, thoughts and feelings.  I’m so pleased to have started this process.  In our own time, we will help each other make sense of our feelings and emotions and I look forward to sharing it with you in the future.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual!

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14 thoughts on “I Couldn’t Consider how I felt, I Couldn’t risk it, I Would fall Apart.

  1. Brilliant blog…as a mum of a former patient too I completely understand where you’re coming from. Well done for writing so eloquently about what goes on inside when you’re trying to hold it all together x

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  2. Amazing read! I too understand everything you have written… You never know how you are going to feel, react and how much impact it will have not just for your child but for the whole family…It is exhausting, I never really spoke to anyone about anything especially how i was feeling when my son was going through treatment. Thankfully he finished his treatment February 2008!! Look forward to next read 🙂 xx

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  3. It’s as though you are writing about me Mrs Brown. I too have had those panic attacks in supermarkets. It’s as though I couldn’t comprehend how the outside world could continue around me. The people seemed alien, the queues terrified me. Even pushing the germ riddled trolley handle was an unthinkable risk! I was an outsider. A very strange feeling. Rejoining “normal” society after treatment ends takes a very long time.

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  4. Everything you said resonates. Our daughter is nearing her two year ‘diagnosis’versary’ for ALL. I have taken to writing poetry lately and it’s really helping. Quite a few of my poems are about my mental state but as this has been pretty well hidden (not just from others but to a certain extent even from myself) then I’m not sure I’m brave enough to publicly share them. Hopefully at some point during CCAM I’ll go for it. Sending love to you and Felix

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    1. Hi Paula, this blog is the first time I have slightly opened the box of my feelings. It scares me that I literally might fall apart. I would love to read some of your poetry and sure many others would. I could publish one for you if you wanted and you could remain anonymous. Have think – my email is mrskabrown@yahoo.co.uk. Sending love and strength back at you. Kind regards Kerry

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  5. I look forward to reading more from you my daughter received her first chemo treatment 2 days ago and I’m on auto pilot. We have a long road ahead of us.

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