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.

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?

Questions about your boss with BPD?

From day one the most common search term for this site has been “my boss has borderline personality disorder.” That hasn’t changed. In fact it’s become even more frequent. I spoke on this once before, but am not sure it actually answers anything you want to know. If you are coming to this blog trying to figure out how to work with a boss who may have BPD please feel free to post a question in the comments section. I will do my best to answer.

Because science

So the kids are back in school, and are learning to share faster than learning to properly wash their hands and cover their mouth. So the whole family’s been sick and it is currently my turn. After a full day of work, a conference call for a new project, and a trip to the psych, I’m at home and exhausted.

I decided to drink some coffee to perk me up and get stuff done, but my nose and ears wanted to be jerks. So I took cold medicine with the coffee, because drowsy + caffeine = ???

So basically I’m a mad scientist experimenting with chemicals. Ok that sounds bad. At this point it’s probably best I lie down and see if I’m capable of falling asleep. Who knows, maybe I’ll be highly productive in my dreams. That could be a fun change.

Scheduling sucks

So I got chewed out by my boss this morning for not properly documenting something that I scheduled (technically just approved to be scheduled) back in April. Than I realize I scheduled something else wrong, went in to correct it, and got hit with 20 questions on "why are you making changes?" Maybe I'm making changes to make you stop bitching at me! Clearly my mind is adjusting well to my third new manager in a year.

Then I realize I forgot to schedule a time to stop by the pharmacy, but not to worry, I'll be in that area tomorrow for my psych follow up, I can get them on the way there. But if she changes my meds that's a waste, so I should get them on the way back. But if I do that I'll be late coming home and I have to get my son to Karate class. Why did I schedule an appointment on the other side of town immediately before Karate class?

Of course at this point of my scheduling nightmare of a day I decided to stop dwelling and instead take some notes on what to mention to the psych since it's a follow up from a recent med change. My attempt to think of notes went as follows "it made me constantly exhausted which was not insomnia, but still sucked, but then it got better, but than worse, but I can't tell cause I've been exhausted all day, but it's past midnight and I'm still awake, but the dreams are better, but not last night, but I've been feeling, um, better? Same? Um, I don't know, but BREATH DAMMIT. So I decided not to write that down for her.

What I did notice was that I have no idea how the new med is effecting me, and mostly that is because I'm hormonal. Because apparently I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with my psych during my period. Because of course that would give me a great understanding of my body chemistry from the new med!

So I suck at scheduling, and my new boss already hates me, and I'm exhausted… again.

Good night y'all. Wish me a night of dreamless sleep 😴

You stole my tree!

Well, not you specifically. And technically it’s not MY tree. And it wasn’t actually stolen, I mean it’s still where it was. Maybe I should start again….

So I’ve mentioned before that I have to park in the same spot (or row in busier parking lots) every time I go somewhere. So I go to my psychiatrist appointment today, yeah? Well most people park on the other side of the building so I always park on the nearly empty side next to a little tree. I’ve been going there almost two years now and have parked in that spot next to the tree every single appointment. Today I get there and and there are multiple cars on my side including one NEXT TO MY TREE. I’ve already had high anxiety all week, and now I can’t park in my spot which always makes me start to panic when going places. So I go into my psyc appointment anxiously snapping the rubber bands I had on my wrist and trying not to sound crazy. Cause I don’t want my psychiatrist to think I’m crazy, apparently? Anyway, we decided to add a mild dose of a new med I haven’t tried before. Non-addictive per my request. We’ll see what happens.

New meds! (Again)


So if you’ve been following the blog the last few weeks you’d know I’ve been on a downward spiral since my last med adjustment. So the psych chatted with me on other meds, which ones she was considering, and why. She is always really good about explaining things, and understands my bodies genetic dislike of meds. I love her!

Anyhoo, the new stuff is starting to take affect and I’m doing well. I’ll be posting more normally soon, but for now just wanted to remind y’all… no matter how bad it gets IT IS TEMPORARY. Yes I have wounds healing and likely going to scar. Yes I’m dealing with the emotional aftermath of suicidal thoughts. Yes I have some headaches through this adjustment period. Yes my employees have been wondering why I’ve been acting differently the last month with a sudden change again in mood the last few days. Working through change is hard, working through mental illness is hard, but it is worth it.

If you are currently struggling please stick with your treatment (or get treatment if you haven’t yet) and keep telling yourself that this is temporary. Even if you don’t believe it yet, say it. It is temporary. You’ll get through it. I promise.

Coping with BPD – Treatment

It is extremely important to stick with a treatment plan. I currently see a therapist and psychiatrist. Although my therapist has to constantly remind me that I need to see my psychiatrist (not because I forget so much as I simply avoid it). I don’t like medications, I don’t like side effects, and I don’t like my constant mind battle on whether or not what I have is actually medical rather than me just being stupid and crazy. Sometimes it takes that someone else to remind you. 

Of course I also hate therapy because I don’t like to face my issues. I’m more of a distract the issues out of my awareness kind of person. In fact in my very first session with my therapist she said “you realize you’ve been self-medicating with work for the last 9 years, right?” (I guess we can add workaholic to the list of disorders). I’ve been going to this therapist for about a year and a half and still sit there silently for chunks at a time because I don’t want to answer her questions. 

The fact is I hate treatment, and I especially hate that I need it. But I love my treatment team, and that makes all the difference. I hate therapy, but I feel safe both from the world and myself in my therapists office. I hate psychiatry but I feel heard by my psychiatrist when I discuss symptoms and medical concerns. 

I have found a strong treatment team that helps, that work well with each other, and that understand my fears and frustrations. They are understanding when I struggle to speak or refuse a specific type of medication. They don’t judge when I align their blinds or scratch at my arm. They both speak to me, as an individual with my own reactions to my diagnosis. And I am safe.

Over the last year and a half I have made tremendous progress and it is thanks in large part to my therapist and psychiatrist. They put up with me, learned me, adjusted for me. I didn’t know anyone would do that for my treatment, no one I had tried previously ever did. If you are struggling with your symptoms find a good treatment team, and listen to them. It can make all the difference in the world.