Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mental health & Daniel

(Might not post here again till after the weekend -- doc appt tomorrow, will update Mon.)

Stress has been a major issue lately, for obvious reasons, and some that are not.

I had a very anxiety producing childhood and then some traumatic events, all combining to give me post-traumatic stress syndrome, intermittent anxiety and occasional panic attacks. I also once suffered a major depression that lasted about 10 years – undiagnosed and untreated, the end of which was when I gave birth to my precious Megan almost eight years ago.

We call those lost years "the decade I sat in a chair" because that’s pretty much what I did, sit around, self-medicating with food (thus once weighing 300 lbs). Thankfully that was before I had kids. Anyway, clearly I’ve come a long way. But now in the last month or so it felt like all of that was unwinding faster than I could grasp at the fragile threads.

So you can understand why I have a particular concern about cancer & my mental health status.

Naturally anyone would be freaking out about being diagnosed with a serious illness. How that would manifest might be slightly different from person to person, but certainly common reactions would be familiar to many. However in my case there could be additional issues that would heighten a typical or expected level of anxiety to potentially dangerous conditions, physically and/or mentally. That’s why I went running to a psychiatrist, pronto.

Physically I could feel a difference from the moment I found out, no doubt exacerbated by the month long build up of “not knowing” prior. Mere seconds after finding out I had breast cancer I went into an immediate and constant state of completely unrelenting physiological panic – fight or flight. I swear I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my body continuously; it was as if I were vibrating or pulsing. I felt shaky and weak yet I couldn’t stop moving, even if it were just to pace a little. I have very mild mitral valve prolapse and my heart seemed to be pounding harder than I’ve experienced ever before. I barely slept four hours a night total, and even that wasn’t uninterrupted. And the almost constant tears, from soft weeping to raging sobs with just a few moments of dry eyes in between has been draining – literally, I think I have been slightly dehydrated and my eyes and facial skin were radically effected by the salt.

Since Tuesday tho I can feel a discernable difference. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel scared out of my mind, still cry, still feel huge anxiety & depression, but it’s at an ever so slightly lower level physically speaking. The constant vibration is gone; the adrenaline rush is more sporadic and not continuous. My heart doesn’t pound and only occasionally races. I am crying what one might expect to be a reasonable amount…daily, several times, but not literally non-stop.

What changed since Tuesday? Three things.

Monday night I got my refill for Xanax from primary care doc and have been using it more liberally…like two pills during a 24 hr period instead of ½ only at night for sleep.

Sunday evening I began faking being happy around my son as much as I could. On Monday I had to really kick it up a notch, as I blogged about, because I was the only adult around for the entire day & night. I think there’s something to the whole “fake it till ya make it” idea…like it can tweak your brain chemistry a bit.

Most importantly -- Daniel and I have found our way back to each other. Michael thinks we were never really “apart” but it felt that way to me in my sensitive state.

Sadly & gladly he has stopped asking to nurse, tho he did ask me if my ta-ta was happy yesterday, which nearly sent me back over the edge. I told him Mama was happy because I loved him. He hugged me.

At night I’ve been able to comfort him back to sleep if he wakes, my biggest obstacle & concern…I just wrap my arms around him and rest his head on my pillow next to mine (have I mentioned we all co-sleep?) I have nursed him on a couple occasions in the middle of the night if he has woken...more because I wanted to, and since he is practically asleep he doesn’t seem to remember and it hasn’t spurred him on to ask for more at other times. To get him to fall asleep at bed time now I sing while holding & petting him, as he wraps his little arms around me and plays with my hair (note to self, got to get that industrial strength wig). I’m pumping some milk so I still keep up a small amount of supply. I just figured all the info on my situation isn’t in and I don’t want/can’t face giving up on nursing 100% forever completely, not just yet. (cue tears now).

That pretty much sums up where I am in my head at the moment.

Cancer-wise I believe that if my lymph nodes are clear and if I am BRCA negative I will have overcome a bunch of initial hurdles and could even feel more frequent moments that resemble something like what calm used to look like, only different. So that is what I am hoping for now. Thanks to all of you wonderful blessed people that are hoping right along with me.


Mervat said...

You are such an inspiration. You consistently amaze me and are showing strength and courage in your experience.

My love to you,

Brenda said...

So glad you are doing better, I'm sure your sons give you lots of reasons to be OK. And you have a husband that loves you, mine just joined me after a 6 week separation and its wonderful. I FEEL better with him here to support me.

Jean said...

You are doing amazingly well. I am utterly in awe of your strength. Keep on keeping on xx

La Belette Rouge said...

I am hoping for you as hard as I can----as we all are. And, I do think I remember reading that people who have emotional support through cancer do better. Groups, therapy, blogging, faking happiness, or whatever works for you. You do amaze me.
I hope you have very happy mother's day.
Love and hugs to you.xoxo

Jane said...

You are truly inspirational - always seeking the light.

Chuck Dilmore said...

in our thoughts and prayers
this Mother's Day weekend~

Alison said...

Kayleigh, What an amazing woman you are. Thank you for sharing your story here, it is surely going to help others as well as helping you sort all this out. I am glad to hear that you sought out some mental help as well and you are being very thorough with your search for a doctor. Take care and know that you and your family are in my thoughts.

SL said...

I did the Race for the Cure today and saw a family that reminded me of your's. The kids (close to the ages of your's) were wearing "racing in celebration of my mom" signs and the young mom was with them in her survivor tee shirt. This is going to be you and your family next year, Kayleigh. I see you in the future, healthy and happy!

The WalMart Vegan said...

I just wanted to send you my love and let you know that my children are praying for you and especially for your children.