Thursday 30 January, 2020

Coping with anxiety and a loss of drive

Ila, based in the US, a cosplayer going through breast cancer.

I’m a cosplayer. My biggest hobby is creating costumes and outfits based on some of my favorite characters in media, but I’ve been a creative person my whole life. I never thought that something would be able to burn away my creative drive, but nothing could have prepared me for the mental and emotional exhaustion that comes with cancer treatment.

The first few months of my treatment were the hardest

The first few months of my treatment were the hardest. I suddenly found myself in a new life, one full of doctors appointments and tests and scans and a weekly dose of poison. I could tell the chemotherapy was working, but my mind was consumed by relentless anxieties. What if the cancer had spread to my lungs before they’d caught it? If the chemo stopped working? Eating the wrong thing and it made the cancer grow? What if, what if, what if. I lost all interest in my hobbies, and used treatment as an excuse to sit on the couch and worry all day. Finally, after I’d lost 20 lbs I didn’t have to lose, my medical team put me on anti-anxiety medications and signed me up for therapy appointments with one of the social workers at the hospital.

I could feel my brain returning to normal

The medication helped a lot, and I could feel my brain returning to normal. I still didn’t feel much of my old creativity though, until my best friend flew from Boston to visit me. She whipped up two outfits for us to wear and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I put makeup on for the first time in ages, and finally felt more like myself. When I posted the photos, it was odd receiving so many comments about how much everyone liked my bald head, how brave I was, how inspiring I was. I didn’t feel like I was any of those things, but I did feel my spark of creativity returning. I made a decision not to let my diagnosis hamper my creations, and let myself start to enjoy sewing and singing again. These outlets have kept me occupied and engaged in my life through my treatment and I’m forever grateful to my best friend for reminding me at my lowest point to keep enjoying the things I love.

Ila, based in the US, a cosplayer going through breast cancer.

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