I know what I want to try to say in this post that I’m about to write but there’s a pretty good chance it will come out in one big jumbled mess. I’m delving into more personal waters again and depending on where this goes as I’m writing, I might share some things I would normally keep from everyone except the closest of “my people.” I’m still deciding how personal this blog that is read by some familiars and some unfamiliars is going to get, so I’ll just get started and see where I end up.
I’ve heard over and over that I’m strong and brave, and while it feels amazing to hear these great qualities ascribed to me, I don’t feel that I have done anything special other than having the unfortunate luck of getting cancer. Everyone is surprised that I have such a good attitude about all this, and honestly, I am too. I’m not the type of person to say, “Everything happens for a reason,” but if this had to happen to me, in a way, it happened at the best possible time. This is because I struggled with depression for years and it was only this last year that I felt happy, capable, and “normal.” Equipped to handle cancer.
I don’t understand my depression or depression in general. I know of people that sink into a deep, dark hole after a really traumatic event, but even though I’ve been through bad times and struggles, my depression always seemed more internal. Something was not right in my head and so medicines were prescribed to help. This “journey” cannot be captured in a paragraph, or even a blog post, so I won’t even try. But it reached its worst point a couple of years ago. I was seeing a doctor that felt each problem that cropped up with me could be solved by adding on an additional medication. No medicine was ever changed or just dropped, he just kept adding more and more. Why didn’t I feel better? I had never felt worse. I felt like a suicidal zombie. Another doctor later looked into all these medications and said, “No wonder you are so depressed you can barely function!” He called the medicines “neuro-depressants.” I didn’t get help in time though and wasn’t capable of helping myself. I lay awake every night, unable to sleep, only thinking of getting out of bed to kill myself, until one night I tried to do just that. Luckily, someone was there with me who saved my life. Someone I’ll never forget. After getting off all those medications, I slowly got better and started seeing a better doctor. Now I think I just feel the way a person should feel. My point in telling that very difficult to tell story is that if this cancer had come up back then, I don’t think I could have been strong or brave. I can’t imagine being able to handle it at all before now.
Now that I’ve shared this piece of information that I share with almost no one, I want to make sure this doesn’t come across as a “psych meds are bad!” story. I know and have argued with people who would disagree with me, but some people really need these medications. I think there is a big problem with misdiagnosis, over medication, and lack of personal attention from doctors, but there are people with mental conditions that simply have to be treated with some kind of medication. I still take a type of antidepressant. I take Adderall, which is not a typical antidepressant, but has made a huge difference for me… especially now. It is tempting for me to say that Adderall would be great for a lot of people on chemotherapy because it helps get me going. It can be hard for me to get out of bed some days knowing that I really don’t have anything to do. It gives me a little boost and yes, I think it contributes to the positive attitude.
I’m putting myself out there again and so I’ll add another disclaimer: don’t send me messages saying people who try to kill themselves are selfish and don’t send me messages saying psych meds are bad! I didn’t get anything but nice messages from the last very personal post so I’m not so worried this time.