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Episode 27: Surviving a Long Period of SUCK


[00:00:01] I'm not sure if there's anyone who would disagree with me when I say that this pandemic really blows. And it's not just the pandemic that sucks, it's what it has done for us — or to us, rather. Like when you think about a pandemic, it's like, OK, there's a lot of fear. There is a lot of arguing between people about whether it's actually deadly or not, or whether it's something that we need to mask up over.

[00:00:41] But the thing that has it is collectively done to all of us, is it has created a space of just pure SUCK that goes on for a very long time. And in the beginning of it, I started to notice that myself and the other cancer survivors that I know were coping with it in a remarkably healthy ways. While everybody else was falling apart, I thought, "what is going on?"

[00:01:16] And I realized that chemo — or even if you didn't have chemo — you just like had the ongoing terror of, you know, diagnosis and any sort of treatment. That is an ongoing period of pure suck, in which you don't know what's going to happen at the end of it.

[00:01:42] Oftentimes, you don't know when it's even going to end, if it WILL ever end. And you have to figure out how to deal with that, on an existential level. That's not an easy thing to do. And it's what everybody is having to deal with right now, with the pandemic. This is just going on and on and on. And it's affected the way that we live our lives. It has affected our mental health because so many of us rely on seeing our families and seeing our friends on going out and doing things that we're not allowed to do anymore. And we don't know when it's going to end.

[00:02:24] And so many of us, especially those of us with preexisting conditions, are terrified that we're going to get this and then, you know, it's going to end our lives. Or if it doesn't end our lives, that the side effects or the long lasting effects of the virus will cause us to feel crappy for the rest of our lives. Because when you have had a long-lasting major illness or a chronic illness, you realize that our bodies really affect how we feel.

[00:02:57] On one hand, this is just a meat sack. And I don't really care that the meat sack doesn't look so good, but when the meat sack doesn't FEEL good, it affects what's going on in my mind, and it affects what's going on spiritually. And so I don't want any more of that. And neither do my fellow cancer survivors or my fellow high-risk people who are already dealing with stuff we don't want to deal with. So even if it doesn't kill us, we don't want any long lasting heart issues, etc..

[00:03:30] My point being that this is a long-lasting period of suck and we don't know when it's going to end. And the unknown is really scary for all of us. And we are humans and as humans, we really try not to get bogged down in this stuff because it becomes too much for us to process and then we break down.

[00:04:01] And trying to avoid the breakdown is part of why we seek to control things and why we hate when things are hard, and why we hate when things are unknown. It's the human condition to try to control it. If we "get it" right away, if we learned our lessons immediately, things would be a lot easier. But we don't get it right away. If we got it right away, we wouldn't have to struggle. And if we didn't have to struggle, then we really wouldn't learn the lesson.

[00:04:42] So. That's part of it. The ongoing suck is because we have to learn stuff from this. And if we had a pandemic that lasted three weeks, would we learn anything? Would we learn how to work together? Would we learn that hard things pass? No, we wouldn't. It has to go on and on and on and on.

[00:05:10] So what I wanted to share with you today, is that it's OK to forgive yourself if you are not able to stop fighting reality, the pandemic being what it is. This hard thing, whether you're listening to this podcast because you just struggle with parenthood in general (because it's hard), or because of this pandemic, or because you got a divorce, or because you're fighting cancer, or because you have some hard thing that is making it difficult for you...

[00:05:48] That difficult thing is your reality, and reality is hard to live in sometimes, especially when it's really, really crappy. And if you're not able to stop fighting reality, it's OK. Shaming yourself isn't going to help. It's getting to that place of acceptance that this is reality and then working within reality is the goal. But if you can't do it yet, that's OK. You are still learning and it's OK to forgive yourself for that.

[00:06:26] Being forced to truly accept that we don't know what the future will hold is really, really scary.

[00:06:35] I remember after cancer, sitting with my therapist and saying that I was scared I was going to die and she said, "You need to make friends with uncertainty, and you need to make friends with the unknown, because everything else is just an illusion. Like you could get hit by a bus, you could be struck down by lightning. Any number of things could happen to you. If you are able to accept that you don't know the outcome and then go with the flow, you will be much happier."

[00:07:21] I don't really know what you can do with this, but if I'm going to be honest, I'm just going to tell you the hard stuff ends. These long periods of suck — They do end. If they're not over yet, it's because it's not the end. And I hope that you're able to have hope that even if this lasts another six months, even it lasted another year, it would end. It will end.

[00:07:50] And it is your choice to decide what you take from it. If you take the lessons from it or if you don't. And even if you're depressed, even if you feel like you can't get out of bed, even if anxiety keeps you up at night, that doesn't mean that you can't take lessons from it too.

[00:08:09] The lesson can just be, "wow, what really freakin sucked. Let's not do that again." Be gentle with yourself, and remember that this too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

[00:08:26] And we're going to be OK. We can choose to come out on the other end better and stronger than we were to begin with. So I hope that that this recording finds you well. And please don't hesitate to reach out to me on Instagram @mightyandbrightco. Thanks.

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher is the Founder + CEO of Mighty + Bright. She's a young cancer survivor, mom, and former single mom.

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