I am, by nature, a person of extremes. When I’m happy, I’m really, really happy. When I’m sad, I can really get down in the dumps and think the worst. I don’t do anything half ass and I do emotions all the way. But still, nothing has compared to the sadness and, dare I say it, depression I felt when I was first diagnosed. It was so encompassing of my body, I was not sure I could care for Oliver.
Here is what I experienced as a result of being diagnosed with cancer. These feelings and symptoms(?) lasted two weeks until I got a complete diagnosis.
- Constant crying (constant!!!)
- Shaking or trembling
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping (well, I could fall asleep but I’d wake up by 5:00 am)
- Dark, dark, dark thoughts
- Unable to get out of bed or off the floor
- Loss of focus
I have experienced some of these things as a result of sadness or fear before but never all at the same time and I found that particularly frightening. I was most worried about Oliver seeing me like this so I went to see a therapist.
I think talking to someone who was objective helped because I knew he had my best interest in mind but never sugar coated anything. When I would tell friends or family my fears of dying or losing my breasts or chemotherapy, they would try to make me feel better. Of course they did! Why shouldn’t they? That’s exactly what I would do for them. But it wasn’t helping. A therapist just listened and nodded and often repeated my fears back to me. I felt acknowledged. The fears did not go away but I felt heard.
My depression did not end that day but I think it helped me to be a little less fearful and more present on each day, each moment and each piece of information I received about my sickness. And when I became more equipped to handle these extreme emotions, I stopped crying in front of my son, began playing with him again and getting back into our routine.
I am far from expert in dealing with any kind of depression and would never, EVER give any advice, at least at this point. I think it’s just important to acknowledge that this happened to me because it is likely that it will happen again sometime in this year of hell. I think I’m going to be sad and scared a lot. But I’m also still going to be a mom and I have to figure out how I can do both.