Between the shorter days and frigid, winter weather, New York had been wearing me down. Seasonal depression, they call it. On top of that, I was also struggling with the usual feelings of isolation from healing at home on medical leave.
I rarely notice the loneliness immediately. There are plenty of solo activities that keep me occupied, and so it tends to creep up more subtly. The day will be chugging along just fine, when suddenly, I'll start to feel waves of anxiety and remember, "Oh right, I've been alone and in my head all day!"
With all that going on, I wasn't in the greatest mood. Fortunately, my wife and I had made plans to visit friends and family over the holidays. It was well overdue.
First off, as someone who's been dedicating his life to healing, there's something about being around those I've known since before the diagnosis that brings me right back to feeling like the pre-cancer Steve. They're still respectful and sensitive to my needs, but will definitely hold me accountable if I become too controlling or self-involved. You need loved ones to check you every once and a while. It's healthy.
Also, it was great to hear what's going on in everyone else's world - and not just the Instagram version. We were able to catch up, keep it real, and discuss the recent highs and lows of our lives… Social media, while great for what it is, just doesn't compare to the quality connection of being around those you love in person.
Throughout it all, there were smiles and laughs, as well as tears. We were able to be extra vulnerable with one another because we felt safe together. Safe, in a world that seems to get more cutthroat and competitive each day. Prior to this trip, it felt like the world and life with cancer had beaten me down. I needed a spark; something to recharge my spirits and get me going again. And I'm grateful to feel like our time together did the trick. Sometimes, it turns out, you just need a little help from your friends.