Well hey there, it’s been awhile.
I’m sort of forcing myself to write a post because it’s therapeutic for me. I have about 4 different half-written posts that are just a bunch of jumbled thoughts, which appropriately describes my life right now - jumbled.
If I’m being completely honest though, I generally feel uninterested and disengaged about quite literally everything. Maybe it’s the summer heat, maybe it’s the never ending fatigue, maybe it’s the emotional battle I’m also fighting, or maybe it’s some combination of them all. Regardless, I sort of find myself forcing myself to participate and care about things that I know I should — which is kind of exhausting. I’m so damn tired all the time, but yet if I don’t take a Benadryl at night, I can’t fall or stay asleep. I used to brag about my ability to sleep any time, any where, but then Cancer sort of showed up.
In typical Hailey fashion, feeling this way wasn’t acceptable and I needed to find something to do about it. I tried to find a psychologist or something on my own, but quickly realized I didn’t fit into any of the pre-determined buckets. I don’t have childhood trauma, addiction issues, or depression. I have metastatic cancer and I’m having a real hard time coping with all that’s happened over the previous 11 months. I reached out to the leader of the Mayo cancer group I attend, and found out Mayo has social workers that will meet with patients — free of charge. I mentioned this in my last post, but I set up an appointment when I was there last to begin to sort through things. At the end of our session, we decided she was going to help me find some tools and resources to help me cope and process everything. This sounded like a great plan and I was so grateful that someone validated my feelings and seemed to know how to help.
A couple of days later, Mayo called to set up an appointment with a Psychiatrist — for October. I promptly lost my shit. OCTOBER?! You’re telling me that I had to wait until October just to get an evaluation? At this rate, I’d be feeling like garbage until next year. I know what you’re probably thinking — I don’t have to use Mayo’s resources. That’s correct, however, it was more important to me that I met with someone who understood the cancer landscape and could really get what I was going through.
Long story short, there was a cancelation on Friday and I had my appointment. Apparently I scored pretty low on the depression and anxiety evaluation, which was interesting and sort of unexpected given all I’ve been talking about. In a way, that’s good, but it doesn’t change my feelings of being disengaged and randomly crying for no reason at all. I kept telling her how things have felt so different these last couple of months. She asked me what was different now and I broke down. What’s different now is my disease is stable. The treatment is working and I don’t have a plan for what’s next. She asked me to talk about when I was first diagnosed and it became so apparent how much of a snowball this entire experience has been. So much was thrown at me, my body went into attack mode. It wasn’t until things slowed down that I allowed myself to really think about all that happened and how I got here. Now that I can sort of stop and take a deep breath, it’s all catching up to me.
After about an hour of asking me very personal questions (that’s her job), she recommended a low dose of an anti-depressant and cognitive behavioral therapy. So, today, I took my first dose of Prozac. Depending on how I do on it, I’ll likely take it for the next 6 months or up to a year. She said the medication should help “realign” things. I know my feelings won’t change over night, and I don’t expect them too. It’s all part of the process, I just need to know things are moving forward. I have my first session with a Mayo Psychologist in September and weirdly enough I’m looking forward to it. All I wanted was a plan.
I‘m sharing this part of my experience because I feel like it’s just as important as the physical treatment. People don’t talk enough about the emotional side effects of Cancer. Sometimes a positive mindset and glass-half full approach isn’t enough and you need to bring in the professionals to help you figure it all out. I could easily feel defeated for not being able to handle it on my own, but I feel quite the opposite. I feel like today I took a giant step towards trying to heal and better myself. Today, for one second, I actually felt like I had some control again.