I always promised that I would keep my entries real. Sometimes as I hear from people and they are so inspired by my story I feel obligated to let them, and help them understand that my life has been extremely difficult. We all have skeletons in our closets, and don’t believe those who say they don’t, some of us just have a higher pile of bones.
Prior to my first diagnosis of breast cancer which was at the age of 43, I have struggled with insecurities and depression since I was 16 years old. I attempted suicide 3 times, I battled an eating disorder up until the age of 37 years old and in between this period of time I underwent electroconvulsive therapy which wiped out a good part of my long term memory. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, all of a sudden I wanted to fight, I wanted to live. Very ironic concept, as here was the opportunity to do nothing and see how long it would take to die of natural causes, but I thought of my children and all they have endured with my illness of depression and I wanted to be a better mother, daughter, sister, friend…..
The mastectomy, although it was real, was not as noticeable to those who didn’t know me, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to my courage and strength, but my second diagnosis 18 months later made it real and open to the public. Sixteen weeks of chemotherapy, thirty three treatments of radiation, hair loss, fatigue, nausea, third degree burns, fear, fight, perseverance; I thought of my mom, my children, life in general and I felt that I had something else to learn, something to give, some reason or purpose as to why I am here.
I laugh when I think of all my struggles to live, now I was faced with the possibility of death and I became philosophical. I embraced this journey to the bottom of my soul. I nurtured my inner being to understand why I let the opinions of others as I was growing up alter and change who and what I wanted to be. I walked with my head down in fear to be judged if someone learned of my past. I don’t care anymore about acceptance. Please don’t get me wrong, the insecurities and anxiety does not go away, but you learn to channel it in hopes that you can help someone before they crash and burn while chasing abusive relationships, failed marriages, emotional reaction, acceptance, and financial discord.
I guess you could say I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. My parents were not extremely wealthy, but we never went without. Today my brothers have taken my father’s company to another level. Money, power, control is at their fingertips. They appear to be so happy in their extreme homes and their luxury automobiles and cannot understand how “dysfunctional” my life is, but is it?
I have a compassion for others. I understand the darkness that can surround you which makes one become emotionally reactive. I do not feel that success is determined by the money in the bank, the car you drive, or the houses that you live in. I want to leave this earth with what I came here with. A heart and soul. So far I have not found a place to buy that, and only those that have been beat down by diversity and eccentric beliefs and ideas can understand that.
I have had a pouring out of kindness and acceptance from people I don’t even know who have followed my journey of breast cancer, but as I speak of mental illness and the treatment it may entail, let’s see how many continue to be inspired.
I have lost everything financially. My home, my fancy cars (except the one my mom gave me), my bank account, but I am real. I would not change any of what I have been through for anything in the world, but I would like to say I’m sorry dad. He is no longer with us, and I cannot tell him and look into his eyes and say “I get it”. You just loved me so much and wanted my life to be without the struggles that you had, but I was too foolish to think you loved your boys more than me. So now, I continue to work on loving me, the broken me, the new me, the me that has the determination to make a difference in someone’s life.
“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”
― Anthon St. Maarten
Monique Pichette MSN, RN