When people ask me how I’m doing, I’m likely to say there are good days and bad days. If I think they really want to know details, and they ask now, I tell them that I’m not doing well, that due to my radiation treatment, my cancer is currently uncontrolled and my depression from the cancer/radiation is only marginally controlled.
If I’m feeling particularly open, I’ll tell them I come unglued from time to time. I’ll describe a recent concert I attended where I suddenly re-realized I was seriously ill and cried through nearly half the performance. I might tell them that every 2 or 3 days I break down sobbing about my situation, fearful that I’ll never find a new antidepressant cocktail that works, scared about how fast the cancer is growing unimpeded inside me, and terrified of the pain that probably awaits me. I might add that much of the rest of the time I’m despondent waiting for the occasional thing that cheers me up. Most probably, I’ll go into none of this detail. I’ll just smile and make conversation as best I can.
I must do a pretty good job, because lots of people tell me I’m strong. But it’s not strength on display, just denial. I rarely feel strong.