Do I Want to Die?

After getting our first good test results (ever) two weeks ago I went into a pretty deep depression.


Getting the good news sent me into an emotional nose dive that I still find myself fighting against succumbing to it.

That’s right, I was sad to find out that I might not be dying as soon as I thought.*

It took me a while to understand what was going on–why would good news bring about such negative emotions? Why was I feeling so lost at a moment when I should have been in the throes of elation? It just didn’t make sense until I realized something. I realized that after a year of living in complete ambiguity, never knowing what to expect from one day to the next, never being quite sure if I was surviving or actively dying, and never being able to count on functional health from one week to the next it didn’t matter whether it was good or bad all I craved was being able to count on what to expect for tomorrow…even if that was death. Living in that in-between place for so long was miserable and taxing and…well…when I got the diagnosis of 3-6 months, as terrible as it was/is, at least for the first time in a long time I knew where I stood. Sure I was dying, but at least I knew what to expect!

I don’t think this was a conscious thought necessarily, I don’t think I would have been able to actually articulate that I was glad I was dying. But what I discovered was that when I got the positive MRI result it immediately called into question the very thing that had been giving me solace. I don’t think I knew that I had been taking so much comfort in knowing what to expect until it was lost. Now let me quickly clarify that without a doubt all of this is an illusion, all of this is about perception not about reality. We cannot ever, in fact, know what to expect concerning tomorrow! (right?) And to make it even more silly is the fact that my good MRI scans do not even change anything about the 3-6 month projections in the slightest! In reality what these new and exciting scans do is powerfully remind us that there’s always hope.

And so I sat in bed sick (from those blasted UTIs) and sick (from those blasted emotions) trying to figure out why I felt the way I did–feeling betrayed by my own emotions, feeling confused by the strange feelings that were emerging, and annoyed by the fact that I was such a mess. Things would be more simple if I were just dying…right. I know, I know, you don’t want me to say that (and you definitely don’t want me to mean it) but the complete and honest truth is that the draw to normalcy, to consistency, and to clear expectations is a koolaid that’s easily drunk. Even if that koolaid is to die from cancer.

Again, there is no question whatsoever that the reality is that we’re all living from day-to-day, that those of us who think we can do life without the messiness of the unknown are living in denial, and that uncertainty or ambiguity is a part of being human. But oh, don’t we crave control?! Don’t we crave even the illusion of it?! Apparently I’ve been craving it so much that even death had an appeal simply because I could count on it!

I’m choosing not to write this blog from the perspective of “and now I’m all better”, “that was then, this is now”, or “I’m so glad I got over that”. The truth is that it’s still hard. I’m still fighting the sickness daily (both the emotional side and the actual infection side). Hopefully I’ll be better soon. Hopefully (and this would make all of this so much easier) the cancer will just go away and I can be done with all of this for good…don’t you think that would be ideal?


* Though the doctor was clear that while this gives us great hope, it does not directly change our timeframe.

5 thoughts on “Do I Want to Die?

  1. Totally makes sense even while it doesn't. Living in limbo is hard.
    About 4 years ago, when I came to understand that I really would survive the Lyme, I was kinda disappointed… and still am off and on! It's weird to feel this way, but it's so complicated.

  2. One thing I am certain of is you have an incredible ability to write. Your ability to express emotion and experience evokes much each time I read your writings. I certainly have no answers nor would presume to suggest any prophetical design but I do believe that within these experiences of illness and treatment and roller coaster rides God himself has fine tuned a talent within you to write and express well words to affirm others in the faith and bring forth some of the hard hard questions that living in faith brings. I pray your future of any length continues to bring more of this talent to bless those of us fortunate enough to read the words. God bless you and your family and thank you again for sharing.

  3. I second Linda's words Ryan. Not too many have the ability to write this experience. What an incredible gift AND journal for all of us you inspire now and those that will come after us. God has granted ALL of us this gift of YOU! Blessings my brother in Jesus!!


  4. Ryan – Your blog posts, and especially this one, strike me intensely in these two ways.

    First, and foremost, is your clarity of mind and thought in being able to write as you are & have been. Second, and along with that, is the exquisiteness of your writing voice. Such openness, honesty, passion, relevance and eloquence are rare all found together, and in one so young as you are, especially so.

    I deeply know that God has blessed me with the talents that I have. He has gifted me with them, and expects me to use each of them. I also realize that with each one, and He has continued to bless me with more and more, comes the charge to share it with others. For me, often first of all, is through my attitudes and actions to those around me. Maybe THAT is true of all of us, actually. Second, for me, nearly always comes the need (for me) and charge (toward others) to write about what I am experiencing. Interestingly, the more I've experienced in so many new and different ways, the more God has called me to share what I've learned with others, either in person, by phone, in written word, on FB, my blog, emails, EVERY way, so that I may comfort them and also help them as they face the same trials and tribulations – and we each face them.

    At the same time, I myself rely on many around me to lift ME up before the Lord, beginning with my beloved husband, Tom (who you will find a LOT of funny stories about if and when you ever have time to look at my blog, God willing!!)

    It takes TIME to write – and ENERGY. I am amazed you even feel like writing, then to do it so well. God definitely IS giving you the voice and His energy to do so!! Hallelujah is what I proclaim to God and to you!! You are encouraging me greatly. I've not blogged much in a long time, although I had a really large following, because Tom & I had to spend several months out in Abilene, Texas (750 miles away from south Mississippi) last year caring for my now 90 1/2 year old mom, who with Alzheimer's is in much better health than all the rest of us! She is in a good home now being cared for, and I'm thinking I should make the time to blog again. You are a terrific example for me to do so!

    If YOU can do this, than may God help ME to do it, once again. And not be afraid of what I say or who all reads it (someone was bothering me & I worried about it).

    God Bless! And, as I always ended my blog posts, "CHEERS!!"


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