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IDC and Mental Health

bcfightr24
bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

Hello, I've been recently Dx with IDC Grade 2, ER+, PR+, HER2+ as well as DCIS on left breast and also managing Major Depression Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD. I've had my crying episodes and everyone I have talked with says to have a positive attitude. In my experience having a positive attitude is challenging in itself, but I'm willing to try. Anyone else dealing with mental health issues along with BC? How are you coping?

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Comments

  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 92

    I had pre-existing severe depression before even getting breast cancer. Depression is something I've had to manage my entire life. It helps me to stay busy. That's why the period right after active treatment was so tough for me.

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    Thanks @orangeflower for your input! Even though it's been only a week since my diagnosis, it feels so surreal. I have MH therapy once a month and that will hopefully help. But I'm finding it hard to be positive. I'll keep in mind what you went through and stay the course. As soon as I get my initial appointment with the breast surgeon, hopefully my Tx plan will put my mind at ease and I can continue to focus on positive thoughts. Keep Strong!

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 735

    I have a history of depression and am on medication for that long term, and I had recently had an ADHD diagnosis not too long before my first cancer.

    There's nothing magical about positive thinking. Whatever feelings you have are valid, and fighting with your own feelings is not a good recipe for peace. Keep doing your best to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    Too often, the people touting positive thinking are the people who cannot handle their own negative emotions and/or don't have the capacity to be a listener for yours.

    (There's nothing magical about negative thinking either, and worrying and negative anticipation don't actually prepare one for or protect against bad outcomes).

    Hang in there! It does get a lot easier after the treatment starts (though there can still be bad patches).

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,884

    @bcfightr24, we're sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. The first few weeks are some of the toughest. Everything is overwhelming, and you're just trying absorb this new, huge reality that is before you. It's scary, and hard to manage the anxiety, and everything feels unknown. It's great that you found a mental health therapist.

    We've heard many times from different members about instances where they experienced what we would describe as "toxic positivity." All of the feelings that you are experiencing are normal, and it is not wrong for you to express them or feel them as you are experiencing. Like @salamandra shared, it's often that people are not able to manage their own fears and anxiety related to your diagnosis, and they respond in turn by shutting you down and encouraging you to have "positive thoughts." Try checking out this article, which talks about toxic positivity in relation to breast cancer, and some responses you can use when people say that to you:

    Please keep us up-to-date on how you are doing. We do offer free weekly meet-ups over Zoom with other individuals going through active treatment for early stage breast cancer. You can take a look at the dates and times, and register for them here:

    The ones you would want to join are the In Treatment for Breast Cancer groups, which are for individuals with an early stage breast cancer. They are on Tuesdays at 1pm EST and Thursdays at 6pm EST. It can be especially helpful when you're in the beginning like you are right now to hear from folks who are a little further in the process, and they will understand this part of your experience in a way that no one else in your life can since they're not going through it.

    Let us know if you have any questions. We're here to support you! 🤗

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    Thank you so much @salamandra and @moderators for your encouraging words of wisdom. It is so nice to hear that my own feelings are as important as being true to myself and not change to suit the masses.

    I feel that some people are downplaying my experiences and telling me to not worry and be positive is the only true way to overcome this plight. To be honest, sometimes I would like to hear a verbal affirmation like, "Yes, I understand how you feel" or, "If you want to cry or scream at the top of your lungs, you do you" would be welcoming.

    Now I'm not seeking sympathy, I just want someone to tell me what I am feeling is valid and understandable. Right now I am scared and afraid of the unknown. The "C" word is a horrible word. I vow to do everything in my power to fight to the core, express my true feelings, keep an open mind, and ask for help.

    "To thine own self be true."-Polonius, "Hamlet"

  • vlnrph
    vlnrph Member Posts: 487

    I agree with the idea that personally taking a positive attitude is not always possible. Some will say that they are sending + thoughts your way. Often they might mean prayer but, if your religious stance is unclear to them, it’s safer using that kind of statement so as to not offend. They may be relieved to see you smile even when you’re not well.

    Hopefully you have someone in addition to your counselor to be open with regarding feelings. When people ask me how I’m doing, my response is frequently ‘OK’. If they really want to know, I can answer with additional details more directly. Most of the time, they don’t actually care but are being polite. Same with “Tell me what I can do to help”.

    On this website, under all topics then managing life there is a mental health thread now containing only 60 discussions. There used to be additional content but it all got lost in cyberspace somewhere. Meanwhile, keeping busy usually distracts me. As weather permits, I like to be outdoors in fresh air. Do something inexpensive or free to treat yourself!

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    @vlnrph Thank you for your insight. It's not about the religious view point than it is about my whole general attitude towards my situation. They see me cry and hear me speak about my fears and anxiety, but right a way they say, "don't be negative, be positive and think positively." It's like they don't want to hear about my feelings albeit negative feelings. So I am slowly realizing who I can express my true feelings to and who I need to show a facade of positivity.

    As far as doing things just for me, that is a bit harder for me. I'm currently in a downward spiral of my depression which makes it difficult to do things I love and enjoy. But I am working on that and have my therapy session scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

    Thank you for leading me to the other mental health threads. I will peruse over those discussions.

    This is going to be a trying journey filled with all emotions.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,884

    @bcfighter24, One day at a time… and it does take alot of time to adjust to the new situation. While a positive attitude is always good, it's not always easy. People often talk about "toxic positivity" in our community here. Also, we want to let you know we offer very supportive, moderated Virtual Community Meetups. There are a number of different groups and times, so if you're interested, please check them out here: Virtual Community Meetups.

    We’re here for you,
    The Mods

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    @moderators I appreciate your comments.

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    I just heard back from the breast surgeon's office manager today. I am scheduled to see my surgeon tomorrow at 2pm for consultation. I guess, then, I will discuss my options and map out my treatment. I am so anxious, scared, and afraid of the unknown. 😰

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 774

    bc, I hear what you are saying. I have been there and it helps so much for someone to just listen. If someone goes on about all the positive thinking stuff - it just depresses me more. Please know that you will get through this and it will be easier when you have your treatment plan. I was where you are 15 years ago and I made it through. I had a good shrink who was good with meds and I was also in a cancer group which really helped. Take it one day at a time or one hour at a time and don't feel bad about having the feelings you are having. Take care and let us know how your appointment goes.

  • nilespark44
    nilespark44 Member Posts: 28

    I am so sorry you are going through this and with anxiety and depression. I have had anxiety/depression off and down my whole adult life. About 4 years ago, I finally decided that staying on medication was the best thing for me. It helps. Maybe medication is something you can talk to your surgeon about it. I also started to think about some quotes on fear to help me navigate my new world of cancer.

    Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." "The brave WOMAN is not she who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." "Nothing in life is to be feared.

    1. "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.'
      --Marie Curie

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    @cowgirl13 you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I appreciate what you said. I will update once the treatment plan is set. My appointment is at 2pm today (CST) and luckily my hubby is going with me. My parents were supposed to go but my mom fell ill. My daughter can't take off work to join us either. TBH, I'm a bit upset about all that but oh well, gotta move forward. Thank you again!

    @nilespark44 Thank you for your kind words. I have been on medication for quite some time. Even though I'm medicated I still have bouts of depression episodes and my anxiety is constantly on red alert. I will have to admit that fear is a four letter word to me. I'm scared of the unknown, I fear failure and pain (emotionally and physically). I will keep your quotes in mind. Thank you!

    "To thine own self be true."-Polonius (Hamlet)

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    Alrighty, I had my initial appointment with the surgeon. What a day! I got a lot of information and a lot to think about. He explained my biopsy report and confirmed that I have Stage 1 Breast Cancer. Scary! But he is optimistic and down to earth. He said we are not going to get too far in the treatment plan now because he wants to explain what he needs to do first before surgery.

    So, the next step is for a MRI since my breast density is a "C". I also took a genetics test which the results will be available in about two weeks. I also was referred to a plastic surgeon who will answer my questions before a decision can be made. He said we should wait for the results from the MRI and genetics testing before deciding what kind of surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy) to have.

    I have so many questions. I really like my doctor, he actually asked me to ask him whatever questions I had and he answered me without making me feel like a dummy, didn't fat-shame, and he explained step-by-step what to expect. Gold Star! ⭐️ He even scheduled my next appointment to see him and I will be hearing back from his office regarding my MRI appointment and a call back from the plastic surgeon later this week.

    I am very fortunate to have decided on this particular doctor. He is genuinely a very nice medical professional with an excellent bedside manner. He kept eye contact with myself as well as my husband the whole time. I'm ready for the next step!

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,884

    Thanks for sharing your update, @bcfightr24! The right doctor can make a world of difference, and we are so glad you found one with whom you feel heard and supported.

  • nilespark44
    nilespark44 Member Posts: 28

    bcfightr24, that is wonderful news! Having a great team is so helpful and calming. They say that once you have your plan formulated, you are in more control of your diagnosis. I found that to be true for me. You are almost there.

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 774
    edited March 8

    Wonderfull! He sounds like a great doc and his handling of the process is excellent (sure seems to me). And his patience in explaining everything must have really helped you feel more comfortable.

  • nilespark44
    nilespark44 Member Posts: 28

    Having a caring doctor is half the battle, at least in my opinion. Who needs terrible bedside matter when you are dealing with breast cancer….happy for you.

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    Thank you so much @nilespark44

  • snm
    snm Member Posts: 72

    For anxiety, I actually am doing what a breast cancer survivor had recommended on this forum: guided imagery. Imagine a healing golden light from within your chest radiating outwards to all your mind and body and breathe. Whenever I see the sun, I remind myself of this light within.

    Hope this might help you too

  • nilespark44
    nilespark44 Member Posts: 28

    snm - thank you! That is a beautiful image!

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    I agree, that is a beautiful image. When stricken with negative news, we tend to push out the positive and focus only on the negative. We should all stand tall, be strong, and radiate a positive glow! Cancer will NOT rule my life!!

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,884

    love this, @bcfightr24 !

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30
    edited March 17

    I've just been thinking of what is to come this week. I have my MRI and plastics consult. It's getting real (again!) So many thoughts run inside my head, I don't know what to think. My anxiety is at a 100. All I keep wondering is what if this? and what if that? I can't turn it off.

    For the past week, all has been quiet. No appointments, no waiting for phone calls, just quietness. Yet, my mind is running amuck. I wake up in the middle of night and I start thinking. UGHHHHH!!!😩

    Ok, ok, ok! I know calm down, right?! Easier said than done.

    Repeat my mantra: "Stand tall, be strong, and radiate a positive glow! Cancer will NOT rule my life"🎗️(pink)

  • needs.a.nap
    needs.a.nap Member Posts: 157

    Hello @bcfightr24. If only we could order ourselves to calm down and it would actually work! That would be so nice. Sometimes it seems to only do the opposite. It’s going to be a busy week with your important appointments so it’s understandable that you feel anxious.

    This is only my experience, but I’m finding that living the reality is (thankfully!!) turning out to be not quite as bad as the fear and anticipation of everything … it really does end up being just one step in front of the other, one day at a time. Our minds can be so unkind to us with anxious thoughts that run wild. And our brains tend to compress the future all into one super stressful event or day but thankfully the reality is spaced out better. We are also capable of so much more than we imagine ourselves to be, which is pretty amazing. You’ll see.

    I hope you can manage to get a little rest tonight. I’m thinking of you and wishing you a good night, wishing us all a good night!

  • snm
    snm Member Posts: 72

    @bcfightr24

    Sending you good vibes. Your body is more resilient than you think. You will bounce back from this.

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    @needs.a.nap & @snm Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. As I was reading your comments, I started sobbing. I realize that I am not alone and I am blessed to have found this community!

    I will be praying for each one of you!

  • bcfightr24
    bcfightr24 Member Posts: 30

    Good afternoon! I just got back some wonderful news…my genetics test results were negative!! BRCA1 & BRCA2 were negative! I am soooooo happy! Now, all I have to wait on is my follow-up appointment on Monday with my breast surgeon to discuss my MRI results. I'm praying for a clean image 🤞

    I can't express how much all your words of encouragement has helped me get through my journey so far. 😊

  • needs.a.nap
    needs.a.nap Member Posts: 157

    Hello @bcfightr24. That’s great!! I’m so happy for you! Take every little positive aspect and rejoice! Not having to factor in a genetic mutation is a nice relief. Thank you for sharing your happy news!

  • buddyfed30
    buddyfed30 Member Posts: 1

    Appreciate reading the comments. I'm struggling with lots of fear, it alternates between fear of death and fear of living, oddly enough. Prognosis is good statistically but that doesn't change what's happening inside of me emotionally. I'm so scared, and mostly terrified of living my life this way, a shell of who I was. I want to get better. Surgery was 9/11, ended radiation 12/5. this feels like the hardest emotional spot yet. Trying to figure out if I keep working or not, would depression get worse without it? Or is it pushing myself too much to go? Just started Sertraline, fingers crossed. Trying to parent and stay connected and present for my senior in high school who lost so much of mea already this year. I can accept all of this, if I could just have faith that it will get better, that there is a good life waiting on the other side of this. I don't want a life riddled with fear. Bless you all, thank you for being a place of safety.