A welcome turn

Stepped into the same ER as we did 5 months ago. Got brought back just as quickly as before when the triage nurse saw his level of pain. Had the same ER doctor come in to the room. And as she stepped in she stopped. I’ve treated you before, haven’t I? He looked and said yes, that she was the one who found his cancer. She asked prognosis, current symptoms, and immediately put in orders for pain meds and a CT. I saw the same concern on her face as the last time when she ordered pain meds and a CT. Last time for his colon where she found multiple large masses, this time for his head where he was having the severe pain. It was all so similar, and so frightening.

I vividly remember 5 months ago, sitting in the chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hook up his IV. Waiting in that chair while they take him for scans. And finally seeing the doctor return with results, closing the door I didn’t know the room had before closing the curtain usually used as a door and turning to us to explain what she found. That time led to a week at the hospital, a cancer diagnosis, explanation of stage 4, massive surgery, and a rollercoaster of pain and emotion that we still face.

Today I sat in that chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hooked up his IV. Waited in that chair while the took him for scans. And then sat there anxiously staring at the door you wouldn’t know is there unless you’ve seen them use it. Desperately wishing it to remain open. I couldn’t handle going down this road again so soon. Even if I could handle it, I don’t know if he can. His mind is breaking.

Last time we sat through unspoken fear of colon cancer, this time the unspoken fear of it spreading to the brain. The doctor came back but the door remained open. Scans are clean, labs look great (considering). But she still admitted him. She wants another doctor to take a look, and beyond that just to give his body a rest. She is promising pain meds, anti nausea meds, and anti anxiety meds. And as the first batch went in his IV I slowly saw him sink into a gentle sleep. He is calm and resting, his pain managed, and when last I left his room he was keeping down what he has decided is the most delicious cranberry juice. The first thing he’s kept down in days.

It’s likely that the symptoms are just from the chemo, but it hit so hard and wasn’t letting up that we needed to get him in. What has me most concerned is the occasional moments of confusion or lapses in memory. It’s not normal for him, and started before these other symptoms. So they’re looking into it. I’m relieved that the brain scans are clean, and that he will be able to rest pain free even if just for tonight. This trip to the hospital had a much better turn out then last time. But I feel it will continue to loom over us every time we have these ups and downs. But right now I will sleep easy knowing he is safe. And tomorrow I will hopefully be able to take him home.

Depression and Cancer

I never liked to hear that depression is like a cancer of the mind. I am a mental health advocate and a firm believer that mental illness is in fact an illness, not just moods. I never corrected someone for comparing depression to cancer as I know how hard it is to describe to those who haven’t had it. But I simply did not understand the link. Cancer is cancer, depression is depression, right? Well today I got it. I suddenly understood the link.

Hubby is fighting stage 4 cancer right now. He went to the doctor this morning who said “you don’t seem yourself today, are you feeling alright?” He said no, and tried to explain but couldn’t quite put it into words. They did see that he was dehydrated so got him hooked up to some fluids. They tried to talk and help while he was at the office. But eventually he needed to go home.

Worried about why the doctor kept him late I came home early from work and found him half asleep in bed. I asked how he felt. He said he didn’t feel well, but wasn’t sure why. He described his day. That the fluids didn’t really help him feel better but it’s good he got them. That he kind of just doesn’t want to move. I asked “is it kind of like the exhaustion and aches that come from the flu but without the actual flu?” Kind of, that sounds a little similar. “Does it overwhelm your body but dull your mind?” Yeah. And I just want to sleep. I don’t want to keep getting up and facing these things. I just want to lay here. I don’t feel good. “Honey, that’s depression.”

As the husband of someone with Borderline he has heard me say so many times “I physically feel my emotions.” But I don’t think that really registered until today, when I put a name to his ache. I explained that it becomes overwhelming and takes over. That he needs to start going to therapy and get back on an antidepressant. He wasn’t quite convinced, though I could tell he was listening. So I went on.

Depression starts in the brain, your mind feels it and starts spreading it. What started as some chemicals in one part of your body is spreading to other parts and making them sick. If not treated it will not just go away. It will spread through you and overwhelm your body just as your tumors are. And that’s when it hit me. Depression is like cancer.

Depression starts in one place. It begins mild but is often ignored which allows it to grow. Untreated it will continue to grow and spread until it overwhelms your body and drastically decreases your quality of life. My husband had mild symptoms of cancer that were ignored. Untreated the cancer cells continued to grow and spread until it was discovered that he had tumors covering his colon, liver, and lungs. The cancer overwhelmed his body and drastically decreased his quality of life. But cancer kills, depression doesn’t, right? Wrong. If he doesn’t get treatment and this depression continues to grow it is possible it can take his life before the cancer has a chance to. And that scares me more than anything.

I get it now. I get the comparison. I likely still won’t use this comparison, but not because I don’t get it. As someone who has faced severe depression and not understood the comparison, I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone who has never faced depression to comprehend the link here. So I’ll stick with other variations to try to explain what depression is, and what it does. But today I gained new insight, and better understood others in the way they describe things. And for that I am glad. I’m happy to better understand them and the intelligence and logic behind their explanation. And I’m glad to have enough insight to help hubby get the treatment he needs for mind and body.

And it was devoured

I started a thing at work where if someone is having a really rough day I get them a cake pop to cheer them up. Then it became getting them a strawberry cake pop from Starbucks cause I liked the smiley face on them. That of course became “imagine it’s the face of your enemy and enjoy the destruction of their head while you eat it” because of course that’s where my mind goes. It has now caught on and other people are also cheering up coworkers by giving them faces to devour. I love my office sometimes 😈

That is the worst idea you have had

When your therapist of 3 years, the women who has seen you through panic attacks, self harm, suicidal ideation, and lord knows what else says “that is the worst idea you have had.” You should probably listen 😬

So what was this terrible idea? I went off my meds. That may not seem like much, but remember all the lovely things mentioned in the first sentence? That was during a period of time I spent months arguing with her that I didn’t need medication. Followed by a month of trying to stabilize on my new medications, some of that time spent in a psych hospital. She helped me understand that I need meds, helped me find a good psychiatrist after I had had so many bad ones in the past, she helped keep me safe from myself while I worked to find the right blend, and she helped me understand that the meds bring me to a baseline where I can then work on my self care to become healthy and stable beyond that point.

Recently someone at the office started telling everyone that I don’t care about things. Suddenly rumors where flying around that I am heartless, that I don’t care about my work or my team. This started spreading out of control until someone started trying to tell others I should be fired so they can have someone that actually cares. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder I’d never been told I don’t care. I’m told I care too much, I care when I shouldn’t, I am too emotional, that I need to shut it off. My whole world shifted as I began to hear these strange rumors and I panicked.

I knew the “issue” was that I was stable, and that I wear an emotional mask on top of that. I also knew that I wasn’t going to lower that mask, so the only way to show emotions through it was to stop being stable. So for the next two weeks I cut my antidepressant and mood stabilizer dosages in half. When I didn’t end up completely crazy after that I just stopped taking them altogether. I went against my better judgement. I went against the advice I give others to never adjust your meds without first speaking to your doctor. I went against the advice I give myself, to talk over decisions I know are probably wrong with my therapist before doing stupid things. I panicked, so I ignored everything but the rumors at the office and I screwed myself up worse.

So at last Monday’s appointment we discussed the issues I’m going through right now, and eventually got to the dreaded question:

“How are your meds working?”

“I’m not taking them.”

Pause… “When did you last see your Psychiatrist?”

“About 3 or 4 months ago?”

“So she doesn’t know you stopped taking them?”

“No.”

“How long have you been off your meds?”

“A week, I was on half dose for 2 weeks before that.”

Pause…. “Why?”

“They were making me stable so people thought I didn’t care. I needed stronger emotions at work or everyone would hate me!”

Longer pause (probably an effort to regain the peace she had found while meditating that morning before I had come in and ruined it) “That… that is the worst idea you have had.”

“They want to fire me!”

“You can’t just stop your meds.”

“I can’t be stable right now, they hate me at work!”

“Do you hear yourself?”

“Yes. But I don’t care. I need my job.”

“You are more important than just a job. You need to be stable for you and your husband and your kids. You need to be on your meds.”

So I’m back on my meds. I’m feeling better, more clear, more calm. But I still have moments of desperate desire to be off them. To let my crazy take control. I don’t know where this desire is coming from exactly, I don’t think it is just from work though that was certainly a catalyst. But something in me says I shouldn’t be stable. And this is a new fight for me, one I don’t know how to face.

When I was young and refused to acknowledge depression as a medical condition, or that I had anything more than seasonal depression, I would refuse meds or go off of them because I shouldn’t need them. I’ve fought that battle and moved beyond it. I’ve learned to ignore the occasional thoughts my brain throws at me trying to convince me of that lie. But this is a new lie. My mind says the meds are working, and they’re needed, but that I should stop anyway. I recognize the truth of my illness and my treatment, and something is telling me not to be treated. To let the symptoms take over. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know how to fight it. Have any of you fought that before? The idea that you can be stable but shouldn’t?

Let’s cut off half that compliment, thanks

“You’re doing so well considering all you’re going through!” I’m hearing that non-stop at my new office. I’m trying to take the compliment but it’s frustrating. Am I really doing well? Or am I doing only ok but getting more credit since I’ve got life junk going on?

Part of my problem is that I entered this job with imposter syndrome in full force. I kept hearing “I’m so glad you’re here!” And “you’re exactly what we need!” And “we’ve been counting down the days until you could start!” all through my first couple of days. That’s a pretty high expectation to walk into. So my brain kept wondering how long before they realize I’m a fake, that I’m not good enough, that they made a huge mistake on me.

As the compliments grow, so do my doubts. Which means they try to praise me for doing great things in spite of the insanity of my life I hear only that they’re making excuses for me not doing all that great. The nasty voice in my head should leave me alone. And I hope eventually people will cut off the “considering” part of their compliments.

I’m back… kind of

Sorry for my sudden disappearance. Life went a little crazy all of a sudden. And by “a little crazy” I mean we moved, I started a new job, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer all within the span of a week. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to focus and keep things moving. So I plan to get back to posting on a semi regular basis, but things will be a bit slow.

You’re asking me?

I rarely feel like I’ve got my shit together. Most of the time I see the shit and no togetherness whatsoever. Yet at work I’m fairly good at faking it, you have to be as a manager. So this morning one of our newer employees began asking me at what point does a job become a career. Wow, now that is a tough question to be greeted with before the second cup of coffee!

We chatted for a bit and it turns out he is at a point in his school that he has to choose a major and he’s second (and third, and fourth) guessing himself. I explained that that is entirely understandable. I changed majors 3 times before finally completing school (less than a year ago, and more than a decade older than he is). I explained that to me a career is about having growth opportunity. It’s about knowing that there is a path and you’re not stuck. That maybe job vs career means something different to others, but that’s what I needed for me.

It was not what he was expecting to hear and seemed to really make him think. I asked what he did and didn’t like about his work. What he did and didn’t like about his current classes. And then gave him a few things to consider where studying through that path left options open as he fine tuned his skills and desires. But I think what he needs to know more than anything, and what I failed to properly explain today, is that no matter what he’s very likely to succeed. I’ve seen how fast he learns at the office, how calm he is regardless of situation, and how he actively works with his team. As long as he keeps this dedication and work ethic nothing will hold him down.

So to everyone wondering the same thing please remember that your wonderings prove desire and dedication. Your thoughtfulness on these questions shows determination and intelligence. And that is what will bring you far in your career, more so than anything else.

Oh, and one more thing to remember. That manager in the office who you think has her shit together so can answer these questions and help guide you, yeah she’s lost too. You’re not alone in your fear and confusion. But I guess that means I’m not alone either.

Gotta be honest… looks like a sock to me

Knitting knitting knitting “ah crap”. That is basically the story of this damn sock.

So in case you’re not following, I am knitting socks right now. Knitting is a coping tool for when my brain monster is taking control, so I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I decided to try a sock again, I’ve never successfully finished one but I was feeling hopeful. Upon finishing the ribbing I noticed a mistake in one of the rows. Looks wonky but not overly noticeable so I kept going. Then I finished everything before the heel, success! Furthest I’ve ever made it! Oh wait, my repeat pattern has a mistake a few rows back. I’m really bad at ripping back and picking up stitches so I’ll let it go.

I finished the heel flap yesterday, so proud of myself! And it was done without mistakes! Yay! Started the heel turn. Got to row 9 before I realized I’d done the whole fucking heel turn wrong.

I burst into tears. Hubby was wondering what was wrong. I held up the sock and said it was all screwed up and I should just give up. He said it looked fine and asked what was wrong with it. I pointed to the mistake in the ribbing, the one in the ankle, and then to the heel turn which would fit only if my heel slanted to the left.

Hubby looked at the sock thoughtfully, examined each part I had pointed to, then calmly looked at me and said “I gotta be honest with you. It looks like a sock to me.” 😐

So I went to bed and am trying again today. I had to rip out the heel turn, but couldn’t successfully pick up the stitches in the heel flap, so had to rip back all the way to the last row before starting the heel. Now to start the damn heel again.

Round 1 goes to sock, but Round 2 shall be mine!

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee we’d be sitting on my couch under my favorite quilts drinking white chocolate mochas that my husband went and got us from Starbucks. Assuming you have bribe money to get him to go to Starbucks for us, it’s a bit cold today so we’ll probably need to pay him pretty good to leave the house.

If we were having coffee we’d be sitting and sipping somewhat quietly as we listen to the History Chicks. I recently stumbled on their podcast and can’t turn it off. We would listen intently until suddenly we’re joining the conversation. Cause Beckett and Susan can hear us through my iPad right? If you haven’t heard them before I highly recommend it! If you even vaguely possibly enjoyed some aspect of history, then ignore the child in your brain yelling “but I don’t want to memorize dates for a test!” and put it on. You’ll thank me.

If we were having coffee we would just be relaxing. Last week was a hard one and this week doesn’t look too promising. But today is good. It’s quiet, just the right amount of cold outside (if you don’t listen to my husband), and nothing else need exist. Just us, coffee, and podcasts.

The flu does not help my mental state

Can’t keep anything down, including my mood stabilizer and anti depressant. So not only did I spend all weekend sick, I spent it crazy. Between lack of meds, lack of fluids, and constant stomach and head pain I nearly had a mental break down. Luckily it’s starting to pass, but the flu really is not nice to mental illness. And I’m going back to sleep now. 😷🤧😴