When my dad was here and he was going through treatments and having tests, I set appointment reminders in my phone to call and follow up. I always put positive reminders. “Call Dad for the Good News.” Or “Call to hear Dad’s Cancer Free Results.” There were times I would forget the set reminder and Mom would call me with the results.
It must have happened about a year ago, I must not have set that reminder. Mom called me with the dreaded new, after 4 years in remission, the cancer was back. Dad had a brain tumor. My heart sunk. That is never the news you want to hear.
Well, today, was not meant to be my day. When I set that reminder last year, I somehow put it in my phone for 2019. This morning, I woke up feeling under the weather. Head cold, tight chest but I was going to rally. Work is crazy busy and I am leaving for vacation for a week so I wasn’t going to let a little cold hold me down. I got showered, dressed and jumped in the Jeep. As I was pulling out of the neighborhood, my phone beeped with an appointment reminder.
Oh shit! What did I forget?
I grab my phone and there it was. “Call Dad today to hear the good results from his tests.” I was frozen. I was shocked. I was stricken with panic. I had to immediately pull the Jeep over to maintain my composure. Why would I have this appointment? I can’t call my Dad. Heaven doesn’t have a phone number. And then it hit me, it was a year ago that I got that call that the results weren’t good. That the cancer was back and it was in his brain.
I cried that day. I cried because I knew this was not good. I knew my time was short and I knew that we had a long road ahead. Today, I sat in my Jeep on the side of the road and I cried. I cried because I couldn’t call my Dad. I cried because the good results would never come. I cried because it was a harsh reminder that cancer is cruel and life is hard and I miss my Dad.
It took me a bit to regain my composure and by that time, my head was pounding and I could no longer face the day. I needed tissues and cold medicine and to crawl back into bed and pretend this day never happened. So, I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head and tried to sleep. I tried to forget but I couldn’t. And so, I cried and cried until I had no more tears left to cry.
It has been nearly 8 months since I lost my Dad. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of him but today was a reminder I never wanted to have. A reminder of the last time my Dad would be healthy. A reminder of the last time I would get good news about him. A reminder of the biggest heartbreak of my life.
I didn’t need this today. I had already been in my own head about the last year of my life and this was the cherry on top. I needed a hug. I needed a drink. I needed to cry and yell and scream and so I did. And then, panic set it. I felt like my lungs were on fire. I couldn’t breathe. I was throwing up. And so, I did the only thing to knew to do. I admitted defeat. Yes, I admitted I could not do this alone. I admitted I needed help. I picked up the phone and I called my therapist. To my surprise, she had an opening and was able to see me. Prayers answered.
I am so glad I called. It’s okay to admit that we can’t do it all alone. I realized, today, that this was not a normal emotional reaction. It was not normal to have something like this bring on a panic attack and I realized that I needed help. It’s okay to ask for help and so I did.
So, why am I telling you all of this? I think there is a stigma attached to therapy. I think some people are embarrassed about going to therapy. I think some people believe therapy is only for the weak or the crazy. I am here to say that I am not weak. I am not crazy and I am not embarrassed. I am strong and I am proud that I recognized that today, I needed help. I needed insight. I needed advice. I needed a professional and so I called one.
Please, realize that it takes a strong person to ask for help and those that need it most, usually, do not have the strength to ask and so their problems get worse and worse until there is a point of no return. We have to do a better job. We have to remove the stigma. We have to learn that it is okay to ask for help. We have to promote therapy and we have to advocate for those that can’t.
Did you know that according to the CDC, 123 Americans die of suicide everyday. That is a staggering statistic that is incredibly scary and sad and I feel if we take the stigma off of therapy, we could work to lower that number. So, I am here to say, I am in therapy because I need help. Let’s talk about this and talk about it openly. Let’s go public. Let’s be loud. Let’s advocate for those that can’t before it is too late.
IMPORTANT: If you or someone you know is in crisis, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
So, my life is messy and I am working to clean up that mess but I can not do it alone and I am proud to say I recognized that. I will continue to work on myself. I will continue to remember, in the midst of chaos, sparkle. Don’t let life dull you shine.
The Manicured Mom