A good friend of mine is recovering from one....her symptoms included feeling overwhelmed, an inability to cope, extreme stress and fear....she suffers from depression as well. Definitely important to see a health professional - not just for meds (she was on Paxil first, and then switched to another med that is a better fit for her), but also counselling - her counselling sessions are covered through her work benefits, so she had in-person and telephone sessions.
It's an on-going healing process; sometimes I stop by her place just to say hi, or drop her a quick email so if she needs to vent, or tell me about a good part of her day, there is someone there to listen.
ETA - I think that mental health is something that is sorely neglected in our society; we need to take it far more seriously than we do. Think of all of the fundraisers for "visible" illnesses - and yet we are terrified by the invisible ones. What about all the terms - nuts, cuckoo, wacko - we think nothing about using them. I liken it to saying to a cancer survivor "Hey baldy! Why don't you go eat a sandwich?" People would be HORRIFIED if someone did that (it was awful even to type) - but in a parallel situation we have all kinds of derogatory terms for someone suffering emotional difficulties or mental illness.
Yep. I was under a lot of pressure/stress/depression. One day a woman at work who was extremely arrogant , thought she spoke for the principal in all things, and gave a lot of us grief, stepped on my last nerve. I "went off" on her - something I was always very good at NOT doing in a work situation. My brain was saying "Shut up", but my mouth just kept on going. This hapened in a confernce room, just the two of us, so probably one reason why I exploded (no students or other staff around.) When it was over, I could not stop shaking. Got an emergency appt. with my doc. She put me on stress leave and anti depressant. That was three years ago, been ok since.
"And I will be an embarrassment to all
Who have not found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend."
In January 2009, I had a follow-up visit with my surgeon (finished treatment for anal cancer in early October 2008). The surgeon wanted to do a physical look-see at the tumor site. This would involve the gut-clearing needed for a colonoscopy as well as stretching the area and tissue samples.
1) I had a horrific experience with the diagnosing colonoscopy. I had a stress headache that kept me out of work for a week because I was forbidden to take painkillers. During the cleanse, I bled before everything was...expelled. I was NOT properly knocked out during the procedure and felt everything and was coherent enough to call that surgeon a son of a bitch. He took 4 tissue samples for diagnosis. I "see" pain in color, the brighter the more intense. This was white-hot pain for hours. I had NOTHING to numb the area. I was so freaked out about the pain that I didn't eat for 3 days.
2) Diagnosis alone sent me into a tailspin. NOBODY told me that it was a highly survivable cancer. I also have a serious phobia about the needle "pricks." That pain is a white-hot pain. Obviously chemo involves needles. Me = screwed.
3) I was required to choose between an invasive chest port or a freaky dangly [can't think of the name] thing in my arm. More mental anguish. Chest port got named "the Tick." It hurt like crazy and the discharge nurse "lost" my script for painkiller. A coworker had to dress me (she's now one of my best friends) and my department head walked to the pharmacy and paid for the prescription the surgeon called in almost THREE HOURS after I was discharged. I complained and was told, "of course it hurt. It's a very sensitive area" and refused to see me again (fear of a lawsuit?)
4) The staging for the radiation treatment triggered a flashback to a date rape incident and had me locked in the bathroom sobbing for a long time. The radiologist forgot to tell me he needed to insert a probe to find the precise location of the tumor. Oops.
I haven't yet started chemo or radiation. You can see this is not going well.
5) The radiation caused what the radiologist called a "sunburn" in my tush. The burn caused me to feel as though I was passing a jagged glass pineapple every time I went to the bathroom for 8 solid weeks. I would hold a towel in my mouth to muffle the screams. I had numbing meds but never had enough warning I needed to go in order to use them.
6) The chemo doc & I were not a good emotional match. He wasn't all that understanding of my phobia and almost stopped treating me until my son (18 at the time & just passed a nursing assistant class) intervened on my behalf. I really was trying to get through hell. I happily took whatever drug might help.
Treatment ended, I improved and for Christmas, I revoked consent for the Tick to stay in. That was the one surgery I was mentally thrilled with.
So after all that hell, I was faced with yet another potentially horrific invasion of my body. I reluctantly agreed to the procedure but they couldn't make the appointment right then. Whew for me.
The next morning I was in the shower, getting ready to go to work when my mind started thinking about everything I'd gone through and what pain might return. I lost it. I started sobbing and gasping for air. I ended up in the fetal position at the bottom of the shower gasping like a fish. The only thing that got me up was that I didn't want my son to find me like that. I took a couple of Xanax, called work (who heard my panic and told me to do whatever I needed), called the surgeon and left a message to cancel the appointment and basically passed out for most of the day. My poor son didn't even know I was home till I got up later in the afternoon.
That was the day I decided *I* was fully in charge of my body. NOBODY was going to do anything that I did not feel was necessary after I had a chance to digest. No more forced split-second decisions.
I found a new oncologist who is an awesome match. Not only does he agree with my desire for minimally invasive monitoring, but he was the first one to tell me what I'd learned over the internet: this was a highly survivable cancer, particularly since I'd found it early. I don't fear checkups AND they gave me a script for the numbing "Em-la" cream so I can deal with the blood draws (great since I'm now getting tested every 6 weeks for my newly diagnosed hypothyroid).
So no, I was never clinically diagnosed with a breakdown, but that was the day all my emotions came to a crashing head and I finally broke down. I did come out stronger. I think I understand now what questions to ask and how to advocate for myself in a manner that doesn't get me fired as a patient.
I'm not arguing, I'm just explaining why I'm right Violence doesn't end violence. It extends it. Break the cycle.
You sound like a great friend. I can't imagine having friends who e-mail someone just to check they're OK, let alone drop by in person to say hi. Your friend is blessed to have you.
I'm glad you posted. Now I'm starting to wonder if some of the stuff I've gone through in recent years haven't been mini-breakdowns, or else enough to give me one. I grew up thinking one just has to keep going, doesn't have the time to have a breakdown, one has a job one has to go to, etc. Then when someome gets on my last nerve I'm told I'm "too sensitive."
And I really loved your "Go eat a sandwich!" comment. I'm glad you were brave enough to write it despite the awfulness of typing it. I have a friend who just does not get it that I don't want to ride her horse because he is 16.3. I have tried and tried to explain to her that I am acrophobic and don't do heights--tall horse, ladder, open elevators, and she keeps saying that it isn't the size of the horse that matters, it's how bombproof it is and that there's no need for me to be "scared". Well, I agree that bombproof is good, but 14.2 is good also!
And I am definitely not trying to compare acrophobia to cancer.
TKR, I agree with DeeThbd--DEFINITELY important to see a health professional.
Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
"I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique
DD did - well I think it's the same kind of thing anyway. She was due to have surgery and with other outside stresses -her love was deployed, college, preparing at work for her medical leave - it all blew up. Looking back I now we can see the signs, but never crossed ours or her minds at the time. Very mature, calm, responsible person and one day had a massive panic attack that she is still recovering from 9 months later.
Took months to get her out to the doctor for meds - no medical help avail for someone who can't get out to the doctors (reason she believed brought on the attack).
Agrees with Dee - this country is in need of Mental Health awareness!
She now knows there were warning signs, but since she didn't understand her body's signals. It's taken a long time to get back to normal for her.
Please take care and speak to a doctor if your even just guessing that tihs could be an issue. It's much easier to deal with early on.
Wellspotted, you about have me in tears....thank you for saying such kind things.
There was a recent thread (I think last OT day?) about general anxiety disorder - might be worth a read for those of you who are interested.
DDB, you are EXACTLY right. People heading into a breakdown don't see the signs - it is kind of like a bathtub overflowing, as my friend puts it. Looking in retrospect all the signs are there - irritability at small things, insomnia, or wanting to sleep too much...there are a lot of symptoms that by themselves are insignificant, but when combined can create a crisis situation.
One thing that her counsellor suggested to her is meditation - she said that instead of feeling like she's trying to fit two cups of stress into a one-cup measure, now it's only two cups in that bathtub - that's how helpful meditation can be. Also a warm shower immediately before bedtime; a truly dark bedroom, good nutrition - all of the things that we tend to neglect when we are too busy with everything else. People (ie coworkers) who haven't experienced a panic attack just.don't.get.it.
Warmest wishes for each of you going through difficulty - breathe in, breathe out. You are NOT alone!