Cancer has been one hell of a forced life-lesson, both as I witness my own progression through an unexpected and unwanted detour and as I pay attention to the reactions others have to me. While I know the comments and emails I get are only a fraction of the responses people have to my writing (my writing, of course, presenting only a sliver of my experience), it seems like most people are along for the ride.
I can’t help but notice that each time the tone of my writing shifts, though — reflecting, honestly, the changes in my well-being and perspective, while most appreciate the sincerity, there are those few who don’t want to let go.
When I expressed excitement at having gone into remission so quickly, a few felt compelled to tell me I shouldn’t be so happy because I could still die (Really? Thanks, buddy). When, after my remission, the shitty reality of having years more of chemotherapy caught up with me, people were there to tell me to “stay positive,” “buck up,” and “stop being a downer” (one person said I should “be more like Kris Carr,” a writer and cancer celebrity I admire, but one who has a slow-growing cancer and whose version of treatment involves vegan eating and juice cleanses).
When, in my last few posts, sass replaced sadness and submissive gratitude, I was prepared to get at least some criticism for it, although I figured if I gave a voice to others who’ve had similar experiences and communicated honestly my observations about people and human nature, I’d at least be putting something important into the world. (Plus, what a waste to try to please everyone? Whatever you do, especially if it’s public, there will always be people saying you’re wrong).
I was surprised and encouraged, though, to see almost no one seemed to misunderstand what I was saying (and only one felt compelled to tell me, in a rambling, 1000+ word email, that I’m a self-absorbed asshole), and instead of responding critically or defensively, so many people reflected thoughtfully if they could perhaps learn to be more supportive of others in crisis.
I would be crushed to think, though, that people who so kindly reached out to me might be sitting in front of their computers, worried I’m implying they said the wrong things or didn’t do enough. It’s important you know I’ve been far, far more heartened by the generosity and selflessness I’ve witnessed than I have been disappointed by the few who’ve let me down. Even when I’m feelin’ sassy, the good intentions of others carry much more weight in my mind than any missteps in execution do.
There is no absolute “right” or “wrong” way to go about these sorts of things, and the best we can do is try to be as aware and evolved as we can, matching good intentions with right actions.
Let’s put it this way — if you’re the type of person considerate enough to worry if you did something wrong, you probably didn’t. And even if you did, you’re human just like the rest of us. We become wise from experience, and nothing promotes consciousness more than making mistakes, especially when your heart is open enough to learn from them. All is forgiven.
Enough of that. Onto new things…
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had big plans for turning this blog not only into a helpful resource for promoting a more holistic and integrative view of psychiatry, but for using it to transform my private practice into a productive business that would allow me to reach an ever greater number of people (through writing books, offering telepsychiatry and coaching services, ebooks and courses, etc.). When I got sick, these projects were sidelined, along with the rest of my career.
One of the numerous things cancer has stolen from me has been the meaning and purpose I get from my work. Realistically, it’s going to be almost a year or more before I’ll be able to return to working with patients full-time.
As I’ve started feeling better in the last few weeks, though, I’ve thought about using my training and experience to create some sort of resource that gives more in-depth information and teachings than my more narrative-style blog posts do.
Some faithful readers have offered to give me monetary donations, which I so appreciate, but I would much prefer providing something of value in exchange for any money I get. As I’ve drawn in more amazing readers, the costs of maintaining the blog, between hosting and the email service I use to send my newsletter, have become much more expensive.
To help offset these costs, and, more importantly, to give me a chance to reclaim some of my identity by creating something valuable and meaningful, I’m thinking of building a simple product to offer. Think an ebook, webinar, serious of videos, etc.
My questions to you:
- Were I to create such a thing, might you be interested?
- If so, is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover? Perhaps more details about my experience with cancer, or the tools I’ve used in coping with my diagnosis, or teachings on integrating mindfulness or meditation into your daily life (including weekly exercises and guided meditations — I’ve been told by my Uber drivers I have a very soothing voice, at least when it comes to giving directions), or more in-depth information on any of the topics I’ve written about within the realm or psychiatry or integrative psychiatry…?
- Do you have a medium for receiving this information you’d prefer? PDF ebook? Video or audio? Email course that drips out new lessons weekly? Live webinar were you could interact with me and ask questions?
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments! I will read through all the responses and then, next week, consolidate them into a brief survey and use the results to finalize the project I’ll start working on. My goal would be to have a final product available in about a month (before I start my five-day-a-week chemo cycle and likely descend back into being a pathetic couch slug, at least for the time being).
I want to emphasize that no one should, at any time, feel obligated to purchase anything I offer for sale. I plan to continue writing blog posts as often as possible, as they have been as cathartic for me to share as I hope helpful for you to read.
If you enjoy what I say and would like to hear more of it, though, this would be a great way to fulfill your appetite and support me at the same time.
Photo by Alan L