Posts tagged #mental health

I live with depression

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It is ok to be sad. It is normal. We become sad for so many reasons. Sadness can be overcome, it is just a passing emotion. It is temporary. Depression is long term, it is both physically and mentally painful but you can not describe the pain. It lasts. Depression is a mental illness. Do not argue with me it is a fact. You can not let depression just pass like sadness and fade away. Some medications give us depression too which is a whole other element. Depression is real and effects so many that hide it or even can not admit.


I live with depression.  


I describe my depression as being in a dark hole. I know that there are people trying to help me I see them but in my depression they are just kicking the dirt and burying me more. I can not see any light because my world went black. I am exhausted but can not sleep. I am irritable but playing happy all at once. I feel guilty for no real reason and like I have failed so many. I have thought about my death and how everyone would react. And it sometimes does not phase me other times brings me to tears.


I have been hospitalized for my depression. It was the worst time of my life but it saved me all at once. I have a failed suicide attempt that I shoved under the carpet because of the stigma. I am not embarrassed any more. After talking to my son about it I realized hiding it was only hurting us and me.  I am a constant risk factor. Trauma, so much trauma. Cancer diagnosis. MS diagnosis. Drug abuse. Medication adjustment. All play a heavy part in my depression. Yes I still hide because “I am strong”, “I can it” it is all too much.


Strength looks different on so many but how we view it for ourselves is a game changer. I hide behind my strength. It is easy to be strong for that friend or happy for that family member. It is hard  to say “I can not today”. The pressure comes when people expect strength. When what you are really craving is “It is not your fault”, “Do you need space?”, “How is your mental health?”. But what you get is “You can handle anything”. Bull shit some days I want to go back to that hole and find my release.


Some days I want to be done. Others I celebrate the small victories. And some days are ok. It is ok to be just ok. Striving for happiness is a thing of the past. I strive for content. Some days I am on edge and anything will set me off. Some days I need a random call from a friend to save me.


A safety plan is always in place for me. Who do I call, what should I be doing, how do I get out of the hole. I am not writing this because I am in the dark hole but because I stand on the edge daily. Yes I know my family, my friends my life are all things I should remember but when you are on that edge and the pain is real your mind tells you how they will be ok without you.


We do not know who is depressed or who is struggling in life. That is why we must talk. We must open up. We have to grab those hands and pull each other up. It is vital to all existing in this world. Stop hiding behind the stigma and being embarrassed of this. I am not and I will stand with you. Discussing depression or suicide will not increase any thoughts or actions, it will only show you care and we are not alone.


Some days my tiara is not adjusted. Some times my tiara needs a friend to help me straighten it. I know who those friends are and I thank them for saving me.


Posted on October 19, 2018 .

Growing Stronger Together

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Whenever I hear a group of advocates says “I found my tribe” I smile cause that is the best feeling. Then I think who the hell is my tribe? I have so many breast cancer connections that I often find comfort there. But is that my tribe? That feeling of “oh my gwad they truly understand”. Sure they are my breasties that I would be lost without that is factual. See, I was always the one that had such an array of friends I did not know which group was really mine. Yeah I hung with the jocks thanks to my BFF Alissa, hung with the stoners thanks to my HS boyfriend and the preppy crew, and even hung with the smarties. I never had a tribe I just had people. The same thing happened in my adult pre-stupid dumb breast cancer life, I love to just have an enormous group of peeps around me. Then I was diagnosed with cancer….dun dun dun. I realized fast who would be there, who would cheer me on and who would leave. Honestly, at the time, I was pissed but now I get it and it actually helped me. My large circle got smaller and I needed that.

 

As an advocate, you look for those who understand your mission, believe in the cause and want change. So clearly I could find some in the breast cancer community. Like all other advocacy, the BC people divide up by type, stage, and even gender. Fran,kly, it was confusing to me I am a team player and if I wanted in on the Triple Neg awareness why the hell not? But nonetheless there is a divide but I still found my people there.   We waant real education, real change, and reality checks. I love that!

 

Then one year my very dear friend Jen from Booby and the Beast told me to apply for HealthEvoices. What the hell is that? I have been to YSC and LBBC aren’t I supposed to stay with my people? But I thought “shit sure I will apply”. I had no idea what to expect none. But Jen was going to be there and I got to meet Uzma, Brandy and Claudia so win win. That year I arrived and meet Marisa striaght away and it was really amazing to connect with her because she was doing such great things in Lupus but I do not have that so I thought no big deal so far. I also forgot to pack underwear but that is a different blog post I suppose.  Bonus was I found fast was that the Janssen and the Tonic team put so much heart into  conference it is impossible to not feel the love they are spilling for us. They care which really made a difference to me. I never once felt anything other than that.

 

Opening ceremonies I sat in the front with Marissa , I was so eager to hear Jen speak! I was quickly immersed into  the stories being told from the HIV, IBD and many other communities. I remember thinking “WOW there is advocacy all over” And then Chrisa got on stage and she started to speak. She talked about her son who is schizophrenic and what it was like raising him and being his caretaker. She said something that I’ll never ever forget.“Why is it OK and acceptable to give our child chemotherapy if they’re going through cancer. But if a child has a mental illness we all gravel and are shocked when we want to give them medicine“. I sat there sobbing not because of her son but because at that time my son was going through his own mental health issues and we were debating whether to put him on medication. And I thought “she gets me she understands what I’m going through”. We’ve been friends ever since and she added me to an amazing Facebook group. What a connection that was?

 

Then I applied the following year I thought shoot I had such a great time I would try again. I did not think I would be accepted but I was and I was so freaking happy. I was also there with Wisdo doing videos so it was double fun. And double the amount out of work- I was wearing about three different hats that year. So that was the year that I was told that I had MS. Truth is I  hadn’t really told many people I guess mostly because I didn’t want to admit it -stupid dumb MS. Then I met this guy Dave and he was so full of life, so vibrant and freaking hilarious. He was also in a wheelchair advocating for MS and I was in awe. I thought holy pins and needles I am going to get through this shit show. So I went up to him and I said “hi my name is Annmarie usually blog for breast cancer. But I want you know that I have a MS”  He said something on the lines of “well that sucks”. I thought this is my guy I love this dude. And we been friends ever since. Together we grow!

 

So it brings me to this year in this very long post that you probably haven’t even gotten to the end of them are wondering why she wrote it so long. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to go and  the anticipation was already leading up to it. Everybody was messaging each other and we couldn’t wait to be around one another. The year before I connected with Michelle  mostly because she sat next to me during open mic night and crack jokes. She has an extremely inappropriate sense of humor which of course I gravitated towards. So I couldn’t wait to see her. The cancer community is not just BC which is pretty freaking awesome too because I may have never met my little brother Kyle who runs Check 15. See I was supposed to go to the Cancer Summit and I ended up in the mental health summit which was fine but it made me think. I watched the Twitter feed and the Instagram feed and saw all the pictures of the different groups together -the RA, diabetes and IBD and many many. I sort of suck for not naming all the advocates, so do not be an ass check the link to HEV and read some! 

 

 

And I had a revelation. Honestly it brought me to tears. I don’t have RA and I don’t have diabetes I don’t have a lBD and I’m not HIV positive. I am a hot ass mess yes but with MS and breast cancer and a whole lot of mental health. But the truth is I am a part of all those groups even the ones of illnesses I don’t have. This is my tribe. It brought me to tears and I don’t cry easily so you know I had to be serious. Being a part of healthy voices and what Janseen has created is unbelievable to me and I am so thankful to them, they care I swear they do. I miss them come Monday when the conference is over, I worry that they are ok. I miss our selfie‘s and our laughs. And our extremely inappropriate humor sense of humor. Gabe Howard my have seen that I do not have nipples it was educational even though it possibly made a few uncomfortable...ummmm the other  Gabe. Doesn’t matter that we don’t all share the same illness or nipples or testicles. what matters is that were advocating for a change and for people to understand us. I have to say that I’m sick of preaching to the breast cancer choir they’ve heard it they know it and they’ve lived it. It’s time to preach outside my circle they have them understand what I’m going through. At a conference like this I can connect with advocates for each other but I walked away with new friends I walked away with people that I consider my family. I walked away knowing that these people advocate not just for me but with me. Knowing that if I looked like I wa sin pain at 1am they check, Rachel

  Alycia Bridges  I really do look up to you

 Alycia Bridges I really do look up to you

 


When you ask me who is my tribe is this is them! They are eclectic, they are amazing and they are empowering. They are there is you have a PTSD break down if you have and sister with cancer, if you need to talk about sex or lack of and most of all you do not have to pretend with them or share a late night pizza.  It has been an amazing few years with this group of misfits and I have been honored to be a part. And they like me they really like me!!! The bonus NONE  of them will take my tiara well maybe Robert.

Together We Thrive

I sat here and thought and thought about my blog post for HealthEVoices17 which direction to take it in. I could go on and on about everything I learned in the sessions which was a lot. I could discuss how much powerful content Wisdo got by videotaping so many incredible advocates. Or maybe I should write about Janssen and how not only did they pay our expenses but they ate with us, they laughed with us, they cried but they listened to our stories. I am talking really listened, they heard our stories from their heart. I could have also written about The Tonic team and how they made it their mission to make sure we had everything our aching bodies needed. I for sure could have discussed the Impact Fund! WOW just WOW! Maybe I could write about how I stand on things I have not done that in a long time??? HMMMMM......

Then in our closed group a blog post popped up. My new health care advocate friend Michelle wrote a blog about what fucked up shit people say to schizophrenics and one of the comments hit me.

http://www.schizophrenic.nyc/dumb-fcking-sht-people-said-btw-im-schizophrenic/

http://www.schizophrenic.nyc/dumb-fcking-sht-people-said-btw-im-schizophrenic/

And truth be told it is pretty much with many health issues. The diabetes community feels it when they eat. The RA peeps feel it when they can not move and people judge them for not moving enough. The mental illness gets wacked left and right with it for so many reasons. The HIV community lives with it and the struggle is hard. When will it end? When will people stop being judged for what others can not see or understand?

Which brings me to HealthEVoices17 and why this conference is vital to me opposed to all the others I attend. Why I care so deeply for this one. The theme of the conference was “Together we Thrive”, so true. See it did not matter to anyone at that conference if they had RA, IBD, MS, cancer, HIV, bipolar or anything in the middle. There was no judgment at all. No one carried that if you could not make it to drinks or open mic night, it did not matter if you needed a nap or more time in the relaxation room. All we cared about was that everyone was “healthy”. The concern was about self-care for the other, not selfishness. We get each other, we get the looks of mental pain, the unseen aches, the wobble or the staring off. We get the angst that others do not and want to make a difference in each other's life. We get what it is like to live with our conditions no judgment and we are still friends.

Things I am pretty proud of in the SDBC world

Things I am pretty proud of in the SDBC world

Together we thrive is really meaningful to me. No I do not have diabetes/RA/IMB/HIV but maybe if I share a blog post written by one of my HealthEVoices17 friends on SDBC someone there may connect with them. That is thriving!!! I could not do it without my friends living with that condition. You get what I am saying?? We need to stick together, we need to stop just sharing our story to our select community and branch it out. HealthEvoices connects us in a way we would never have a chance to. I wore many hats during HealthEVoices sometimes it was in the Wisdo video booth collecting stories which were so amazing that I was lucky enough to really listen to so may of my friend's lives. Or maybe I was connecting with someone with cancer who needed to feel they are not alone. There was the time I sat with the MS community learning about new drugs that are hopeful to me. But what still brings me to tears was after dinner one night we were in the bar area talking. A Janssen rep was hanging with us. Someone was telling a very intense story it wasn't pretty or happy but it was real or raw. Her hand was on his arm and she was hearing every word he said. Her eyes locked and he told his story. I know of no other conference where the rep will do that and do it with kindness. What a way to thrive! 

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It's a Cancer Thing You Wouldn't Understand

I pulled a hangnail last week my finger and hand swelled. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I cried when my online friends Jill and Carollynn died and there was nothing I could do. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I hate looking at myself in the mirror between the scars and chest I do not recognise me I can not look.  It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

My body has changed so much I hardly can wrap my head around this rapid change nor do I want to. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I have scans and blood work coming up and it makes me crazy with worry. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I do not sleep at all even with medication. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I am pissed off that everyday about 128 die from metastatic disease and the world just sits and watches. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I can not fly or exercise without wearing a sleeve otherwise my arm swells. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

Sex?? BLAHAHAHAAHAH what was that again? It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

My veins are shot getting blood drawn is painful. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

Lymphedema in one arm cording in another. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

My family worries about me so much I am sick of hurting them this way. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I feel guilty I am alive. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I forget what I was going to say. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I am sick of hearing "because of your history we have to rule out cancer". It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

My boys have  cancer on their medical history and it makes me sick. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I have more doctors than I ever thought possible. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

PSTD is real and I have it! It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I have pain yet numbness in all my surgery sites daily yet you can not see my pain. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I am scared of what radiation, scans and injections have done to my body. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

I feel like I am 90. It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand.

 

 

Maybe you are reading this and you do understand because you had cancer. I am sure you can add many more to my little list. But if you are reading this with no cancer in your life first great I am so happy for you. Second, wake the fuck up! Cancer is not tied in a neat package, cancer does not end, cancer can kill. This is not about whether you can handle the truth or that you do not know how to deal with all this. It is about you understanding that this does not end with a simple surgery or with chemo or radiation. Surviving is an overrated term, we are living through this DX. Some are dying with it. It is time to bring these topics to the front page and stop hiding behind ads of cancer prevention bull shit. We are preventing shit we need to make ourselves strong machines so that we can attack our DX the best way possible.

Understand just because you have "moved on" from cancer the person dealing with it has not. Respect them for their sometimes unseen pain.  This is not a boob job do not make this sexy because sexy is not relevant. Respect the fear of recurrence do not tell us it can not come back, we know different. Honor our friends who have died do not tell us they lost their battle, they did not lose anything. Know that we are scared and have every right to be, stop telling us it will be ok. I know this is hard for some but say nothing just a hug. Keep your hands off my tiara I will smack you. Do something bigger than baked ziti. Rides, babysitting, laugh with me or donate to research not walks. We can make a change if we just put our voices together to be louder and stronger for all to hear. 

It's a cancer thing you wouldn't understand, but you could!





Don't look back.....

It’s funny how sometimes I think we have to look back just a little to see how far we have really come. Seeing what we have accomplished is just what some of us need to give us the push to get through this next phase. As we approach the New Year, we fill it with resolutions, goals and all sorts of achievements that we want to reach. But the reality is our body has changed so drastically, so how the hell can we do half of what we want? When I think about where I was in January 2014, I am amazed at where I am right now. I am talking mentally--screw the weight crap. That is one of the things we forget: mental health. 

For 2015, we need to focus on our mental health! Breast cancer changes our physical body so much that it alters our self esteem, our confidence, our sex drive and ultimately our mental being. This has to be the first place where make the change in 2015. If we can regain a little of our self worth back, just think of all that will follow! It is time to accept, respect and honor what we hide under those damn clothes, understanding the marks cancer left and getting a grasp on the person we have become in spite of them.

But how, when cancer brings a load of pain, death and suffering? I have no idea but what I do know is that if I do not find a way to reclaim my mental being in 2015, part of me loses to cancer and that I can not handle. 2015, is about healing: finding that garden, planting and blooming wherever you grow. Digging deep and finding that mental health is the key to physical recovering. Here is a great thing, I am not gardener at all. I need help weeding, pruning, watering and getting the right sun. Finding someone to help me is how I will get my mental health on in 2015, and chances are, they need it too! What a beautiful garden we will have!

So I say ‘bring on 2015.’ I look forward to this year unlike many others in spite of my health issues, in spite of the challenges I face because I know that I have so many people who will help me as I am helping them bloom! Perfect attitude as I go for my mastectomy tattoo this January, which will be--you guessed it flowers! And yes I will be wearing my tiara!

- See more at: http://www.curediva.com/blog/blog-homepage/dont-look-back/#sthash.VXgoBFHm.dpuf