Thursday, March 19, 2009

Depression Sucks

Last night I began to recognize that my mental state was traveling in a southerly direction. It had been heading that way without my knowing it for the past few days...probably since late Tuesday. When I listened to my visualization CD last night, I was awake during the affirmation part and heard her say,

"I know there are times when I become worried, fearful, despairing, sad or angry and I acknowledge and accept what I feel as my inner truth of the moment. I know that the more that I can acknowledge and accept what I truly feel, without criticism or blame, the more I assist my body's natural tendency to be well. More and more, I can soften and release unwanted emotions once they are acknowledged..." (From Guided Imagery Chemotherapy by Belleruth Naparstek)

That's when it hit me that I might be depressed. I was not wanting to acknowledge and accept my feelings because I was ashamed of being so negative. And truly, when I am happy, I get lots of praise in this carepages and in the outside world. And I get unwanted advice when I share the negativity... Being depressed makes me not only feel awful and think negatively, but believe I am a bad person and a failure and everyone else thinks badly about me too.

Being a therapist doesn't make it any easier to understand what a "chemical imbalance" means. Maybe if I was an MD, I'd understand how the chemicals in the brain work and then maybe the idea of depression could be less demeaning since it's not my fault that my brain chemicals are so off. Going through this chemo though brings home the concept of chemicals causing depression. I keep getting reminded of the decadron.

This time wasn't as bad as last time in that after the last chemo/decadron chemical imbalance, I was truly wacko. I could see how irrational my thoughts were and I was literally crying a few times about somewhat bizarre issues. This time, with less decadron, it was more subtle, so it caught me by surprise. But when it was a gorgeous day, and I wasn't able to notice it and wasn't able to make a simple decision like where to go out for breakfast next week with friends and found myself thinking how awful it will be to go through another round of chemo and then to have to have surgery and then noticing I was picking on Geoff in my mind for the littlest thing, and worrying about Aimee having the flu and possibly breast cancer one day and migraines now, and looking at myself in the mirror and only seeing no eyebrows, no eyelashes and...and...and...I knew for sure what was going on.

So I decided to make an appointment with the Katz Center to try on wigs. It was the best thing I could think of to do for myself: Personalized attention that I didn't get when I was too rushed last time. The nurse asked me how I was doing...and I told her...and she reminded me of the decadron. And told me that next chemo, I can prepare myself by scheduling to do something those days that will help me. So I felt proud of myself to have figured that out today. And I came away with another blond wig but a younger style cut that's really cute. (I guess without eyebrows, and such pale skin, blond is the only color that's going to work right now.)

I also went out to Trader Joes with my dad's gift card before Katz. There's no better healing remedy like browsing through a store feeling like you can buy whatever you want. I got macadamia nuts, frozen vegetable samosas, eggplant humous dip, unsweetened Belgian chocolate, frozen broccoli quiches, and a chicken salad that I doctored up and fed to Aimee in a sandwich when I got home. (She's feeling better BTW and her fever is gone.) I also bumped into Doris in the frozen food aisle which was great because I have missed her. She's been busy taking care of her mom.

So I'm sitting here in my new, blond wig, listening to the birds again and loving the warm weather, happy to have recognized a downward spiral and feeling better for having done what I needed to do to help myself through it. I know this was totally chemically induced but of course, even if it wasn't, it's understandable for a cancer patient to feel depressed every once in a while, if not all the freaking time! I am feeling like myself again (T.G.) but know that if those thoughts creep back in, I can always hit Trader Joe's again or the woods or something else. Hey! next time I'll schedule one of those free massages! (I have one scheduled for Saturday...)

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Window Was Open Today

I had my window open today and enjoyed the fresh air. I noticed green leaves starting to grow again on the only tree in our backyard that sheds for the winter. Thanks to Kathy, I got to smell a huge bouquet of gorgeous, deep purple freesias all weekend that sat on the nightstand next to my bed. Spring is definitely on its way and I can feel new life taking shape within me.

Next chemo will be my last and I am even beginning to accept the idea of losing my breasts. I've gone through so many different things that I never thought I'd be able to accept and handle. Now that chemo is nearly over, I can't believe I am actually starting to embrace the idea of the surgery. At first I get horrified by my fate and then as I go through each stage, acceptance comes and I begin to focus on the positive - like feeling clean and not having that top weight on me. It also helped that someone who's had a double mastectomy came over to my house and showed me what it looks like. I can envision it now and I can hold out for the possibility that it won't be so bad and may even feel better.

I didn't have any depression or migraines with this last round of chemo and believe it could have been because of the lower dose of the decadron and easing off it more slowly. This chemo is different from the other chemo in that my worst days are Saturday and Sunday rather than Friday. So the time spent in bed is longer though only one of them was spent entirely in pajamas. Other than fatigue, constipation, and a bad taste in my mouth, there's very little pain and no nausea. In fact, this time I took a new Chinese herbal preparation called, "Marrow Plus" and I didn't have the bone pain I usually have by the 5th day.

I even got dressed and showered today and took Aimee to school. It's only on Mondays that I do that because Geoff does our volunteer work at PCS on Monday mornings. All the other days I get to go slow in the morning while he gets the kids breakfast and takes them to school. They're 11 and 14 and could make their own breakfast, but he loves doing it and reminds me that Jason will be in college soon enough...

So, I just wanted to touch base and let you all know how I did with the last round. I'm very excited that the end is in sight and I only have one more round.