Tag Archives: Losing someone

Chaotic Cancer: A Family Member’s View: Telling People

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š.

Part of the whole cancer diagnosis and prognosis is the telling people all about it. It’s surprising some of the reactions that you get and the responses you feel as well. Some of the things that I’m going to write about are things that my mum has felt about telling people as well.

When it came to telling people about mum’s diagnosis, it was really hard. I didn’t want to cry on people. This meant I didn’t ring people with regard to the diagnosis. I rang one person when I told them about prognosis. I think with the diagnosis I blamed myself so much. I’d stopped self harming as part of the therapy I’d been having but for me, my thoughts made me feel I had to harm to stop people getting ill. Then mum got cancer. How could it not be my fault? I knew people would know I was evil.

Telling my best friend was the first person. She was amazing and the first thing she said before I’d even mentioned the above thoughts was “it’s not your fault”. She knows me very well and it was hard to see it. My belief in that statement wavers a lot still. My best friend has been an amazing support and checks in with me regularly. She’s not afraid to talk to me.

The reason I mentioned my best friend isn’t afraid to talk to me is that some people do seem to react after telling them by avoiding you or not asking the “how are you?” or “how is your mum?” questions. And I do understand this. Some people can’t deal with this. I get it. But that doesn’t mean its easy to deal with. Both me and mum struggled with this. Mum said she felt like she had something ccontagious that people needed to avoid. I felt the feeling of abandonment. The whole BPD abandonment. And it added to the whole “people know it’s my fault and hate me” thoughts. This was so hard to deal with and still is.

Another reaction is people tell you of their experiences as either a family member or a person who has had cancer. This can be useful but it can be scary too. It’s not something I’d want to change though.

Overall telling people is an exhausting experience. And sometimes even working out what order to tell people in is an issue too as you don’t know who will tell others before you get there. I thought it would be easier telling people about cancer than about my mental illnesses as its not so taboo but I’ve found that not to be the case at all. People are still scared to discuss cancer.

If you have any tips or thoughts on telling people, feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Chaotic Cancer: A Family Member’s View: Prognosis

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

This is my view as a family member of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, with particular relation to issues it causes to my longstanding mental illnesses.

Prognosis. What’s likely to happen? Are we looking at a time frame? Will treatment be a cure? Staging? Grading? All this suddenly comes up. Some of the things you don’t even realise until you’re in the middle of it. Like I didn’t realise there was a difference between the grading of a tumour and the stage of cancer. There is. (Grading looks at the speed and growth of the tumour, Staging looks at how much cancer there is and how much it has spread).

Prognosis was something that came into my mind straight away. I wanted to know if my mum would get better or did I have limited time with her. This was why there were many more tests required after diagnosis. We were pretty sure it had spread from a primary source to the liver and it was important to try and find the primary source. It was suspected to be in the stomach. The type of cancer my mum has (neuroendocrine) means the primary can be on one of many places and usually isn’t found until it has spread. As it was mum’s was an incidental finding during an operation.

To begin with we had a lot of confusion surrounding the prognosis. We were originally told it wasn’t curable but it was treatable. This sounded OK. Then we got the grading back and at first it was not the best outcome but a manageable one. Mum would have years. Within an hour we had another phonecall that changed that to it being more aggressive. Finally my mum asked for clarity on prognosis.

Eighteen months to two years life expectancy.

It was like a slap. We had never been led to believe this was the case at all. Mum just dissolved. Understandably. I just had to get out of the house (oh yes as it is covid times, her prognosis was given via a video appointment). I phoned my best friend and told her. Her response of “Shit” sums it up really. It was hard telling her. It was hard saying it out loud.

After a bit of tears, not many, I pulled it all in. I’ve buried it on the whole. I spoke briefly to the psychologist who did my last lot of therapy as I wasn’t sure about doing the group she wanted me to join. She told me to try and forget the time they had said and just go with it. After all it could be wrong. This I try to do but when you least expect it the words “eighteen months to two years” slap you in the face. I might not even get to 34 with my mum still here. My mum still has her mum at 63. It doesn’t feel fair. It’s unlikely she’ll see a grandchild.

I also feel a lot of guilt. We don’t always have the best relationship and I struggle with both ways of thinking.

The biggest thing that got me though was when I was stressing over all the chaos of cancer and someone said “it’ll get easier” and realising that it’ll only be easier, maybe, when she dies. Until then cancer will be there causing chaos. This has massively messed with my head. I’ve had nightmares. I’ve had panic attacks in the middle of the night. I cope by trying to just be practical and ignore it. But it gets to you in the end.

For more information and support about cancer check out Macmillan Cancer Support. You can keep up to date and share on my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Chaotic Cancer: A Family Member’s View: Intro

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

About six weeks ago (or longer, the days are all merging) my world was hit by the news that my mum has cancer. It’s something I’ve been dealing with on top of coping with my mental illness. Therefore I thought I’d use my blog as a way of recording how I cope (or not) with everything that comes from living with someone with cancer. And not just anyone living with someone with cancer but someone with a prior mental illness. I know bits will overlap with everyone who supports someone with cancer but there are bits that I think I’m finding harder due to my diagnosis. Maybe not… But this will be my way to explore it.

I’m planning to set this up on it’s own page of my blog so it will be together with other information or support as well. And it will all be in one place.

My plan is that I will be as honest as I can be. That I will look at the good, the bad and the ugly. This may mean there is triggering topics discussed so please be careful. As always I will put a trigger warning at the top.

So post one will hopefully be up shortly (once I’ve written it) but I don’t think I will keep these posts to a schedule as life is already chaotic. I also still want to write about other areas of mental health and illness too, this is just an add on.

As always if you want to share or ask questions feel free to use the comments or my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts.

Therapy 2021: Session 5

Date of session: 02/02/2021

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Today was my last session of individual therapy. This will be more of a thoughts on things post as there was not much content to the session to be shared. The main part of the therapy today was to do a screening for joining a trauma information group in March.

With the end suddenly happening (it was only mentioned last session, last week) I feel abandoned. I feel I have no support. I feel alone. They say phone the duty worker or crisis team. These are options I can’t do due to my home situation and the anxiety that means I don’t feel able to talk easily to staff I don’t know. Also I know that someone who mans the duty phone is someone I put in a complaint about and so I was removed from her care. She has since blatantly ignored me when I offered a hello when I saw her in the building of my community mental health team and turned her head away from me. She has also said some things for which the complaint was made. I’m terrified it would be her that answers. I have lost so much support in the last year.

I know I’m lucky to move onto this group but it’s a stop gap. I’m apparently not safe to do online trauma therapy so this is a trauma information group. This will just give us eight weeks of generic information about skills. For this I have to be low risk and stable. So that is what has been said while I’m not safe to do the one to one. I find this confusing.

I’ve not self harmed for seven weeks. I hate myself for this. The anxiety is high. But I’m expected to just be OK. That’s how it feels at least. I just want to harm again. I feel it wouldn’t matter anymore. No one would check on it. And so what if I go to far. It wouldn’t matter.

I know I sound pathetic and I probably am. But I’m angry and upset. Maybe I should of left this post for another day but I needed these thoughts out before I explode at someone. Especially as I’ve been told by someone else something that has annoyed me and left me feeling even more left out and alone. It’s left me with suicidal thoughts (I’m safe and won’t act on them). I’m tired of being made to fight so hard.

I apologise for being self pitying. We shall see how the trauma information group goes when it starts in March. I’m unsure if I will record this or not. For now this is the end of therapy.

Therapy 2021: Session 4

Date of session: 26/01/2021

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Before this session I had homework to do. I left it until the last minute due to feeling ill and tired most of the time. I also knew it would be hard as it involved identifying emotions at some level. This is an area I find hard and frustrating. I also had to build a new safe place to use to do this. This I resented. I did it the night before.

At the start of the session, as always, I was asked how I’d been over the last week. I said about the pain and tiredness. She asked how I’d been doing with the self harm and I replied I still hadn’t self harmed since before Christmas. She was pleased with this. I am less so at this time. She also asked how my dissociation had been which I always find hard to answer as I’m not always aware when I’m dissociating. I explained a couple of things and she said it sounded more like acting mindlessly rather than dissociating. I’ll agree to disagree here but hey ho.

We then moved on to look at the new safe place I had created and went through all its sections and the different senses that related to it. I won’t discuss my safe place at this time as I’m not sure it is a wise thing right now. She was happy with the place I’d created and the use of senses. She then asked about emotions and feelings in the body. This is where I had difficulty and this made me feel uncomfortable and annoyed (anger and annoyance I can identify, though not always accurately in others). She now wants me to keep going through the safe place when I’m not stressed to see how it reduces feelings and calms me. Then move on to practicing it when I think of a mildly irritating scenario. At the moment I’m in a constant state of anxiety so we will see how we go.

After this she wanted to discuss next steps. She had, had her supervision meeting and discussed about doing further trauma work with me now I wasn’t self harming (a prerequisite I had been given). It was now decided it was still to unsafe to do the trauma work online due to my high score on the DES (Dissociative Experience Scale) as she wasn’t in the same room as me. I understand this to an extent but it feels like I have to somehow get better so I’m the right level of ill. I can’t be too ill, but I can’t be too well.

The above led me to having to make a decision. We could do another couple of sessions winding down and then leave it until face to face was an option or I can join a trauma information group in March for eight weeks and next weeks session would be my last individual session. I explained I would have to consider the timing of the session and how it would impact on my family as its a two hour course. I had some less than pleasant comments in response that left me incredibly upset, including “the group will go ahead with or without you” and “you’re lucky to be offered this so soon”. I don’t dispute how lucky I am, I just needed to consult others as I’m not the only person it will effect. She knows of the difficulties at home. I was told to just be assertive.

After the session I was in tears. I felt some of the comments were unfair. I had not turned it down flat, just explained that I wasn’t sure I could do it due to the issues in my family. But then I was an awful person. I feel now something that may be paranoia but also may not be, which is that this has all been to leave me without support and the world knowing how awful I am. I’m still not feeling great in regard to this. I have considered emailing the psychologist but I’m also scared too. It has triggered a lot of feelings of fear of abandonment.

I have managed to arrange that I will be able to attend the group of the offer is still open. We will see what happens next week.

Therapy 2020: Session 8

Date of session: 21/10/2020

Please be aware that some content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Another difficult session. Each week I dread this 50 minute period of time. And it’s taking longer and longer each week to sort myself out. I know that this week, again, will take me time to deal with. Writing it out is the start of the process.

We started by discussing how I’d been the last week. I was honest and said I had been low in mood. I didn’t get far enough to mention the suicidal thoughts and melt down I had during the week. She asked if I knew why I felt low and we discussed some of what we had last week and challenging the thoughts.

We also looked at what other feelings I had been having and came up with guilt and anger. We worked through whether these matched the facts and whether they could be acted on. In some cases this wasn’t the case so the need was to act opposite. (Apparently when they ask what the opposite to acting by repairing for guilt, they do not want the answer destruction.).

We then explored the anger about aa certain situation in more detail and tried to separate my anger at the other person and my anger at myself. This was difficult to work through and some things that were said have upset me quite a lot and have me doubting myself more than ever. A friend who I discussed it with doesn’t agree with what was said about the situation and this has left me in utter confusion.

I’m hoping that I can get through all this. At the moment my head feels full to the point I can’t think about anything as nothing can move. There are people I desperately want to talk it through with but feel unable to do so. I feel more and more like a burden. I almost feel at this point that this therapy could kill me. We are halfway through the allocated number of sessions and I have no idea if in 8 weeks I’m going to be able to cope any better.

Therapy 2020: Session 7

Date of session: 14/10/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Today was tough. Even tougher than last week. I feel broken. There’s a lot of other feelings floating around that I’m unsure of and feel massive. I should try to work them out but at the moment I don’t want to know what they are.

We started as we usually do with a check in on how I feel. I had an immense headache so she thanked me for even turning up and gave me the option of not doing the session at all or if my head hurt too much I could stop at any point. I felt this was nice as an option though I knew I wouldn’t use it as I don’t let myself escape.

We discussed last week and how I’d used distress tolerance techniques and that my self harm had not increased or become worse after the session. I mean it’s pretty bad anyway. She also checked I hadn’t resorted to any other destructive behaviours which I hadn’t.

When talking about the distress tolerance techniques she talked about how she uses them and why she’d used them recently. I know why she did this and it sounds a good thing but since I’ve been thinking on what she said and how I reacted and how I didn’t comment more. This has made me feel guilty which is silly but it’s the way I am.

We carried on with looking at core beliefs and doing a formulation. Today we moved into rules I live by linked to my core beliefs. She said these made me a good person as opposed to the evil I (feel) am. This is hard to believe.

We looked at critical events that clashed with the rules I live by that have reinforced my core beliefs. One of these was extremely hard. It’s a major one that’s led to my belief I’m evil. She decided we needed to challenge it. We wrote statements. We used different analogies. I understand the challenges. But can I believe them? We shall see.

That is where we left it. I’m not sure how to deal with all this going forward. I want to talk to some people I know about it but I don’t know how or what to say. My head is a mess. I keep trying to push it out of my head but it pops back up.

Suicide Talk

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care.

When I feel suicidal I know that my answers to questions and what I say in general change. How I act may also seem to differ from “normal”. Here I thought I’d discuss some of my tells and some I have learnt about from others. Being aware of when someone is feeling suicidal means we have a better chance of helping them before we lose them. Everyone is different but hopefully this may help us identify the signs and give us the courage to ask these people “are you feeling suicidal?” and get them the help and support they require.

1. I’m fine/I’m tired

A huge thing is that when I’m doing really bad I say I’m doing good. Or I say I’m tired. It’s a sign my mood is rapidly dropping. I might not be at the suicidal zone yet but I’m heading that way most of the time. There are other phrases I’ve heard other people use that are signs they’re struggling which have included “not too bad”, “plodding along” or “up and down”. Obviously people use this when they aren’t heading into the suicidal area but it’s worth being alert.

2. Withdrawing

This is a huge tell of mine. In my head I’m thinking that I’m helping people get used to me not being around and showing them they don’t need me in their lives. I convince myself it’s for the best. It takes a lot to drag me back from this without me making an attpt although that has become less frequent in the last couple of years.

3. Suicide memes/quotes

I may start to spend a lot of time on Tumblr looking at the suicide hashtag. It’s normally something I will do without others being aware so not always a sign but occasionally I will share one or two of these.

4. Googling methods

Again this is something I may do on the quiet so not always obvious but I may admit it to others. It may be that other people don’t hide it as much and it is a sign to look out for.

5. Being really happy after being really low

Sometimes I will go to the total opposite. I will desperately try to hide behind humour. I will try and be really bright and help everyone and not answer when they ask how I am. I become really generous and do lots.

6. I don’t answer how I am

Yep I hid one in above. Did you notice it? See how easy it is to miss? Sometimes the signs are so hard to see. I dont always see them. I’ve had a friend make an attempt later the same evening I’ve been talking to them and never twigged how awful they were feeling. It brings its own guilt but it is not your fault.

There are other signs I have written about before but I thought these would give an insight into the less well known. And ones I’ve experienced. For others please look at my other blog post here.

If you have anything to add feel free to use the comments or you can find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you are feeling suicidal you can contact the Samaritans in the UK or go to the page called crisis lines in the menu for help in other counntries.

Losing Someone To Suicide

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. I will not mention methods of suicide or self harm.

I rarely talk about this but someone I knew who had a huge impact on my life ended their own life. I don’t talk about it much as he wasn’t a friend or family member but he was still a positive part of my life and very helpful to me. He was my sixth form psychology tutor.

I’d left sixth form by the time this happened but we’d kept in sporadic contact while I was in university as he was very supportive about my mental health. He was the first adult I chose to tell about my mental health problems. And I’m glad I did. He made me see I had nothing to be ashamed of. That I could tell people and ask for help and it would be OK. He helped me get to talk to someone more qualified and when it came to going to university he made all sorts of calls and emails to ask about support for me and my mental health. He also showed faith in my abilities. I got a U (Ungraded) on the first exam I did for psychology but he didn’t write me off. By the time it came to predicting my final grade he went with an A (the highest grade at the time). Although I didn’t achieve that it felt good he thought I could.

The first I knew something was wrong was when a friend from sixth form sent me a message saying he had gone missing. Everyone was looking for him and there was concern for his safety due to some news he’d received. The sickening feeling will remain with me forever. I was 20 by then. We’d had less contact as I’d gone into my second and third years of university. I’d had my own mental health issues deepen by then. I hoped he would be found at aa friend’s house or just away for a few days.

The news came soon after that his body had been found. That it had been suicide. I wasn’t in contact with many people from my psychology class by then but some of my friends had also been taught by him. One in particular stayed in contact and we were shocked together. As more information came through it became more shocking. I was in contact with another teacher from sixth form and had a short email conversation with her about what had happened. It appeared no-one had seen it coming, even his partner.

Later on there was a memorial service at the sixth form for him. I’d arranged to attend but in the end couldn’t face going. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted to shut it out. And that’s what I did for years. Occasionally it would come into my consciousness what had happened. But I always pushed it away. I thought it couldn’t have an effect on me as I wasn’t that close to him. I wasn’t friend or family. What right did I have to be effected by it?

But that’s the thing. Suicide does effect more people than you realise. I’m not saying this to make people feel guilty. I’ve tried to end my life since then and my thought always is that people are better off without me. I still feel that way even though I know how it feels to be a person left behind. The reason I’m writing this is because it does impact you. It does hurt and it can be hard to realise that person wasn’t being selfish. I know now more than ever he would never want to hurt anyone else and having had the opportunity to read more about it since I can see that more than ever. It’s something I wish everyone could see in those they lose to suicide.

Another thing that I think I’ve learnt from losing him to suicide is that even the best people have their demons. Everyone can struggle but still put on a positive front. We should never take that mask for granted and we should always be kind as we don’t know if we could make a difference to how that person feels. Also if you lose someone, however distantly, it’s OK to struggle with it and talk about it. Your grief is still valid. Death by suicide is particularly hard to process and it’s important to look after yourself too.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide there are places you can talk about it. The Mind website has some useful information. If you’d like to share anything feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please be careful if posting anything triggering and add a warning if necessary.

Image from Pinterest

This post is dedicated to CR. You were a positive in my life and many others. You reached more people than you know and made a major difference to our lives. Thank you. X

The Anxiety Of Leaving Lockdown

I know a lot of people have written about the easing of lockdown and the effect its having on their mental health. I can relate many times. But I wanted to get my own anxieties and thoughts out so here goes.

I know we need to ease the lockdown. I know there are benefits to it but I feel its happening so fast. Within a few weeks we’ve gone from only being allowed out once a day to people allowed in our homes and shops reopening. It feels like we’re not waiting to see the effect of one change before the next is brought in and that scares me.

I’m not scared of me getting coronavirus. If I get it, I get it. The fear is for other people. My mum, and to a lesser extent my Dad, have had to shield as they are in vulnerable groups. They could get really sick with the virus. It’s meant I’ve had to go into shops. It’s terrified me that I’m going to catch it and give it to them. I’ve been obsessive with hand washing and sanitiser. I’ve panicked if I’ve made one small error. Now it feels more risky than before and my anxiety of going into a shop is higher.

I want to protect my family but obviously they have their own minds and can do as they want to. I’ve tried so hard to resist panicking in front of them. I’ve tried my hardest not to get angry when I am scared they are putting themselves at risk. This is becoming harder as they are allowed to do more. How can I stop them when the government say its OK? Truth is I can’t. This feels so out of control and this leads to an increase in anxiety.

Another thing adding to the anxiety is that as things are eased people think it’s OK to break the rules more and more but they are doing it in bigger ways. This makes me scared for the people in my life too. My family are vulnerable. I don’t want to take risks but others don’t see the problem and even in shops get closer than they should. It’s scary.

Places are also getting busier which brings my normal anxiety into play. I hate busy places and crowded places. This meant the two metre rule for me was fantastic. I want to keep it forever. I’m now starting to be scared to go out again. I feel I’ve gone backwards in this area.

So those are a few of my worries. I’m sure you all have your own. I think I need to just focus on what I can control rather than what I can’t. If you have any tips or want to share your anxieties then feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest