|Copyright LucasFilms 1977; Fox 1994; New Line Cinemas 2001|
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my mental health. I'm sure you're thinking this is normal--a lot of people feel increased depression, anxiety, and worry after a diagnosis of cancer. Of course this is normal.
What I'm thinking about, however, is how GOOD my mental health has been (other than at first dx) in the past few weeks. Sure, I've had my worries about doctor's appointments, x-rays and scans, and treatment decisions but, all in all, I've been more well-adjusted than ever.
Instead of worrying needlessly every hour of every day about getting on a plane MONTHS ahead of time, or if Ben will get in a car accident when he drives in the rain, I worry only about appropriate things...like...um, cancer.
It is, in many ways, much easier for me to cope when I have a battle to fight and am not left to my own destructive devices. My motto just a few months ago was: if you've got nothing to worry about, then you KNOW something's coming. So am I a more easygoing person since getting cancer?
Of course, the fact that my tumor was caught early and my treatment will be less invasive than most makes this an easy statement to make. I'm also not saying that cancer is, like, God's plan to make me less Woody Allenish because cancer is not given to teach a lesson. It sucks ass, and that's that.
This all reminded me a little of what I wrote in my thinly veiled autobiographical novel, The Mean Reds. I will have an arrogant douche moment and share it with you:
Most days (and today was no exception) I secretly wished desperately to be given something to fight for. This may of course be due to my excessive viewing of the original Star Wars trilogy, but I was always really jealous that I wasn’t part of a rebellion.
People in rebellions such as, I don’t know, THE rebellion, probably didn’t even remember their own birthdays. They had too much fighting to do! Against evil! Sure, people died--I mean, Porkins died! Porkins was a good, decent man and a great fighter pilot and will live on in our hearts but he’s dead now, all for the rebellion!
I thought about Porkins a lot, and his fat face, and whether or not he had a wife and kids at home in whatever galaxy he’d resided in. These throwaway characters sometimes had lifelines past what they are meant to in my little convoluted head. But it didn’t stop there. What did Porkins do when he got home from his star wars or battles? Did he want to kick back and watch intergalactic cable because he was so tired? I wanted to imagine Porkins approaching the door to his space hut or whatever, his Vienna sausage-like fingers outstretched towards his two children, Violet and Roland. They would embrace him and he would give his wife a passionate kiss. Then they would all go in for a raucous game of “Hungry, Hungry Hippos.” Well, perhaps because it’s Star Wars it would be “Mysterious, Mysterious Mynocks.”
I guess I over-romanticize things. If Porkins came home from a starship battle he’d probably be like any other asshole and fall asleep immediately without talking to his wife for half a day. I get sleep, Porkins, I get it. But if there was some evil overlord or a dark force trying to destroy my people, would I have to find a reason to get out of bed before noon? I think not.--"Mean Reds," 2006
I do tend to worry about what might be, rather than what is. This is the mark of the truly anxious person--he/she will be more frightened and overwhelmed when life is normal than when something is actually wrong. This is truly a sad state of affairs, but the end result is that I am generally less globally depressed, less afraid of others dying on me (as my own mortality is taking that edge off), and more creatively productive.
Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, I am using my existing shoe to kick the ass of cancer. In many ways, I suppose, this is awesome.
Disclaimer: God, Allah, Buddha, Odin--this is not an invitation to give cancer instead of Prozac.