In the last two days I've had two conversations about people with regards to why I rarely get visibly stressed out or anxious about things that are going on, and how I'm able to take crazy situations in stride. I admit that a lot of that is the surface appearance and not the whole picture, but I have a knack for maintaining a forward-looking perspective, and it's because if I didn't, I'd go mad.
One thing anyone who has gone through cancer treatments will tell you is you never look at the five-year survival rates because they will surely make you panic. I totally didn't do that. Nope. I learned that my form of cancer had a 15% survival rate completely through osmosis. Or something. Going through cancer was an exercise in learning not to panic, and in spite of the stress and the bad feelings and the fear, I was able to do that for the most part. My doctors and oncology team often joked with me about how positive I was and how I always had a smile on my face. One time one of the oncology nurses told me she didn't understand how I kept a smile on my face all the time, and my answer was basically that I didn't have any other way in mind to deal with it. Put on a happy face, and push on.
In the middle of treatment, toward the end of radiation and before surgery, I started to feel different. On the surface I still put on a happy face and went on with things, but deep down I was stressing out. Prior to my surgery, I was fine up until the night before when I broke. It was a hard day and I couldn't keep my typical happy face on any more. I guess that happens.
The same happened during my surgical recovery; the happy face was there but I couldn't just blindly keep it on. Sometimes I failed. It wasn't great, but it was manageable. Then came my battle with depression, and that really became a problem for me; one that took months of hard work in therapy to learn coping strategies for.
All of these things had one thing in common: in the midst of all of them, you feel like you won't come out of them. The crazy part about going through something is very simple: when you're the deepest into a crisis, you're at the middle. You're equidistant from the beginning and the end (think of the old joke: How far can you walk into a forest? Half way because after that you're walking out) but when you're at the center of a crisis, you can't see the end, only that you've come a long way and you have a long way to go. It always feels worst at the middle, though, and of the three major things I've gone through over the past few years, that's been proven perfectly every time.
This applies to any crisis: business, personal, health, marriage, etc. You never feel like you'll get out of it when you're the deepest into it, and the only way to cope is to keep pushing. You'd be surprised at what you're capable of, and even more surprised, often, to find out how close you are to the end just when you think there's no end coming any time soon.
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