A social media friend commented that people who wrote blogs wrote such self-centered, inane rubbish and this got me thinking. Firstly, why read the blogs then, if that’s the way you feel? I read and follow blogs I enjoy and blogs which interest me, if the content upset or irritated me, then I wouldn’t read it. If someone doesn’t like what I write, that’s okay, that’s their opinion and I am not doing it for them. People write blogs for many reasons, and for some they earn an income from it.
If I was talented, I would write a book, but I’m not. I don’t write my blog because I think that I’m writing a masterpiece, or that people will love it, or that it fits anyone’s idea of literary acceptability. I write my blog because it is cathartic. For me, it helps writing down what has happened rather than burdening my friends with this, and also having to deal with their reactions: I spend a lot of time making others feel better about my cancer. It is therapeutic to scream into the void, and to acknowledge that sometimes life is shit. To spend the entire time pretending it isn’t, doesn’t achieve anything.
What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. That’s okay. Someone wrote “Sometimes we heal in public so the ones doing it in private can keep going”. Hell, yes! There are many accounts of people’s experience of cancer and cancer treatments. Cancer charities often post these accounts, but for the most part they are “sanitised” and generally not much detail is given, the overall “experience” being not too bad. Not everyone’s experience is the same however. I read all these. I want as much information as possible. But when these experiences don’t match my own, I start to wonder where I have gone wrong, am I doing something wrong, has something gone wrong, why is it I’m so sick still…….until I discovered – away from these charities – people’s personal accounts. Honest, raw information. I knew then I was not alone, I was not doing anything wrong, that what is happening to me is, in fact, incredibly common. What a relief.
There is nothing wrong at all with being upbeat and positive, but there is such a thing as toxic positivity and that helps absolutely no-one. Don’t misunderstand, charities do amazing work, but one size doesn’t fit all. And for me, being able to read open and honest accounts of what people are going through has helped me feel less alone, has helped me understand that it is actually very common in spite of it not being mentioned by my cancer care team, or in certain forums. If someone read my account and it helped them realise they were not alone, that these things happen, then that can only be a good thing. But, for myself, just to be able to write it, and say, yes, that was bloody awful, and I’m still struggling with the post-chemo damage, it is therapeutic.