It has been a few months since the one year anniversary date of my cancer diagnosis. All my scans are okay and a procedure to check my uterus goes well. So why am I not overjoyed? I should be on cloud 9, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful. It’s not lack of gratitude for being healed.
Work is a constant struggle. My memory is shot and so is my ability to cope with multiple tasks. I had too much to handle before my year of chemo. I contact personnel to tell them I am at my wits’ end. She is very nice and says it will be discussed in a meeting.
At my next medical oncologist visit my doctor tells me I need to lose weight. I know the Tamoxifen is no help in that area. (I will take this med for 5 years.) I tell her a little about my emotional state. She asks if I want to try a medication. I ask her what she thinks I should do. It’s my decision. First time I didn’t want to hear that. I don’t know what to do!
After a month of hurrying off to lunch so I could leave work to cry, I finally reach my breaking point. Personnel has done nothing, a report is due, bills are due, deadlines, etc. I can’t hold back the tears at work and look like a total idiot. I call my family doctor and they work me in. Doctor K is wonderful. I tell him some of my symptoms…feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, lack of interest in activities I use to enjoy, sleeping too much, low energy. Why is this happening? I should be overjoyed everyday that I am alive and well, right? I know he must think I’m crazy.
My doctor tells me the most important words I need to hear…”You’re not crazy.” He explains that sometimes a person gets so concentrated on the physical side of their health, that afterwards they are able to begin dealing with the mental side. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it makes sense. He prescribes a medicine for depression and schedules a return visit. I am also instructed to get out and walk every morning as well as go out to spend time with friends. I am placed on 2 week medical leave.
I know it sounds weird but I was relieved that he took over and told me what I needed to do. I would be too embarrassed to do it myself. I felt like I finally had permission to address my mental state. There is so much stigma attached to mental illnesses that people are usually afraid to seek help.
The first few days of my medicine I was “stone faced,” so to speak. At least I wasn’t crying. After a week I started feeling better. The medicine is working. After week two I see noticeable improvement in my attitude. And I love walking. It brings a feeling of peace and self-worth.
I decide to quit work for a while. With the help of the medicine I can now see where I am supposed to be mentally. I am not quite there, but I am on my way. It feels good…very good.
- Today’s Tip – If you are suffering from signs of depression, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about them. Having depression or any other type of mental illness does not make you a bad or weak person.