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Are you kidding me?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by toddamus, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. toddamus

    toddamus
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    I've noticed this place is a rare environment. People here are really open to talking about things that they wouldn't feel comfortable with in another setting. My twin is starting treatment for leukemia, he's being treated with chemo and lots of steroids. I'd like to open up a discussion for people experiencing significant illness or have family that are going through it.

    For me, I'd like to know how you guys cope.I have a hard time enjoying myself when my brother is going through these things. I know I should be able to separate myself from these things but as we all know its not usually a choice.

    FOCUS:. How do you cope with serious life issues?
     
  2. Nettdata

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  3. Revengeofthenerds

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    Because I've recounted it a lot on here, I won't bore you or anyone with how I forcefully attacked alcohol during my struggles with PTSD (though if you honestly want details PM me).

    Today, the way I "cope" with serious issues varies from issue to issue. If it's health or something with me or my wife or son, knowledge is power and I research as much as I can from as many different sources. I've learned the hard way that I have to be my own strongest care advocate, because doctors and hospitals have rules and regulations and drug companies and insurance. The more I know, even if the facts are not good, the better prepared I am to make one of the millions of decisions you make during a health crisis. Knowledge is power; it is also, for me, comforting.

    On the other hand, my grandfather has suffered from dementia for years. He lived next door to me, and I visited my grandmother/his wife every day until she died of dementia. She eventually became violent, and it wasn't fun. Brought bad a lot of bad stuff for me, and I regressed back into some of my PTSD behavior for a bit. So when my grandfather got to a certain arbitrary point, I made the decision that for the sake of my own mental health, and that of my son and wife, I would no longer visit him. He could no longer remember my name, and seeing him in his physical state just impacted me so much that it wasn't fair for my wife or especially my son to see and deal with me like that. When he dies I will honor his memory with a tattoo on my shoulder -- he taught me to fish, and it's going to be depicting that.... Every situation is nuanced and no two are the same, but sometimes, under some circumstances, it is absolutely best to make a clean break for the sake of your own health. My coping in dealing with him illustrates one such example.

    As far as other "serious life issues" as far as career wise, financial, relationship-wise.... I don't have much to say. I'm in a basically recession-proof job, never been laid off, and squirrel away money by building and repairing as many things myself as I can. My wife and I have been married 6 years and the only crisis we've had were largely of my own making, so again, can't really comment.
     
  4. Volo

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    Be positive, as best you are able, whether it's you in the hot seat or someone close to you. Morale has a strange and wonderful power over most situations.
     
  5. Kampf Trinker

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    If he starts being irascible or aggressive just let it go. He's going to feel like shit a lot of the time so don't be too surprised when he's not often in a good mood. Just remember at times you're going to have to separate what is the illness and what's him.

    Best of luck for you and your brother. Wouldn't wish this shit on anyone, but sooner or later we all go through it.
     
  6. audreymonroe

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    The most powerful cervix... in the world...

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    For coping with other people's illnesses:

    I try and let the sick person take the lead. Different people are going to need different things from the people in their lives while they're going through something, so I think the only universal way of dealing with it is to listen to what they want, whether they're explicitly asking for it or not. Earlier this year, the last blow of this truly awful stretch I was going through was my best friend's mom being diagnosed with breast cancer. We've been friends since we were six, and met each other while my mom was sick with breast cancer, and her mom essentially became my mom too. I, to this day, have my own bed in my friend's room, I refer to all of her family members as my aunts or grandmas or uncles, her mom groups me in when she's talking about her kids. So she was, in my mind, my third mother to have cancer. (I had a stepmom too.) She is an incredibly optimistic and see-the-silver-lining type of person, so much so that there has even been some tension with how differently their family processes tragedies than I do. I knew that's what she needed from me. I am very much the opposite of both those things. Everyone kept saying she was going to be fine because they caught it early and it wasn't a particularly aggressive type. Meanwhile, I'd heard that before with my stepmom and she was dead within six months, so I was completely convinced she'd be gone by the end of the year. Except for a couple of "here is a piece of news and I am upset about it" conversations with some friends, I kept all of those thoughts to myself. On the outside, I was for all intents and purposes An Optimistic Person. I did a breast cancer awareness 5k with my Miles For Margo shirt on even though I hate all that stuff. When I talked with her or her family or friends we all kept it lighthearted and hopeful and joking around and talking about how much we couldn't wait for this to be over since that would be so soon and definitely end in a good way. Pretty quickly I came very close to buying it, and not to say that I didn't occasionally break down crying alone in my room but it did overall end up being helpful and a far preferable way to dealing with everything than the way I would've done it had I been left to my own devices. Also, she got the all-clear and has been cancer-free since the end of August, so maybe there is really something to all this positivity shit.

    I was actually supposed to get the news of her diagnosis the night the terrible thing with my roommate that I posted about happened. (It was collectively decided they'd wait to tell me and I didn't find out until a month afterward.) I followed the same kind of idea with my roommate in the aftermath of all that and was always just feeling out what he needed on any given day. Sometimes it was pretty clear he just wanted to be left alone. Sometimes he'd want to go out and do something fun and be with other people. Sometimes he'd want to hang out so we could have a long serious talk. Sometimes we'd just need to sit there and trade funny dog gifs back and forth. I'm sure I didn't pick up on the right thing at the right time every single time for the past eight months, and I'm sure that intuitive reading of people is harder for other people than it is for me, but I think if you pay enough attention people are going to show you what they want even if they're not saying it outright, and I find it to be a great relief to not have to figure out how to deal with something on my own and instead just basically indirectly be told what to do.

    But when it comes to coping for my own benefit, I learned a really big lesson from what happened with my roommate. I kept getting all these cards and gifts and people would, after getting the latest updates on how he was doing, would say "and how are YOU doing" and tell me how worried they were about me too and asking me what I needed. For the first week or so, it was making me extremely uncomfortable and upset. I didn't think I had done anything worth being thanked for, and it felt just incredibly wrong and inappropriate to make anything about me. I get really freaked out by people taking care of me in any way or generally being on the receiving end of worry or sympathy. Meanwhile, the whole thing was triggering a bunch of longstanding mental/emotional health stuff of mine and I was becoming really scared of being alone in the apartment and generally kind of losing it, and apparently thinking I was doing a much better job of hiding that than I really was. I had been seeing a guy for two weeks, and he ended up staying with me every weekend that my roommate was in the hospital. He fed me and cleaned my apartment and bought me all those little things that ended up needing replacing over that month like toilet paper and toothpaste, and most importantly did me the favor of making me laugh and allowing myself to be at least a little happy and distracted. And I realized, after all of the things I had to get through and heal myself from more or less on my own since my stepmom got sick when I was twelve, how goddamn good it felt to let someone take care of me for a change, and that it was okay to admit I was having a tough time with it too even if I wasn't the focal center of the tragedy here, and it was okay to do something for myself to try and feel better now and then. So, when coping with someone else's issue that you're connected to in any way, I think it's really important to not forget about yourself, and to be kind to yourself, and to let other people be kind to you. I really think that was a saving grace for me. (P.S That guy was not a saint, he ghosted me a few days after my roommate got out of the hospital in the middle of a conversation about making plans, don't worry.)

    For coping with serious life issues that just have to do with yourself:

    I am a huge proponent of allowing yourself to wallow in your own misery now and then. I think people are very uncomfortable with or afraid of or ashamed of just letting themselves be sad or angry or hurt or scared, and we're always so focused on how to not feel that way, even when something terrible has happened or is happening. So if something's up I will give myself an evening or a day or a weekend or a week and just accept that I am sad and not even think about how I'm going to fix it. I give in to lying in bed doing nothing or crying or drinking or holing myself up and doing my own thing without talking to anyone or melodramatically wandering around the city or doing something reckless and I don't let myself feel bad about it. The real trick though is snapping yourself out of it and moving on to being more productive about that misery instead of accidentally slipping into a long-term self-destructive state, and I unfortunately have absolutely no idea how I do that. I basically berated myself out of succumbing to depression for this most recent tough stretch because I knew from past experiences that getting all nihilistic and catatonic or self-destructive was only going to make things worse. But, the point is, it seems like whenever me or my friends are going through something they add on this whole other level of feeling guilty or embarrassed about being affected by it like we're all supposed to be these stoic robots, and I think allowing ourselves to feel bad about something that's bad is only going to help.

    I also very much rely on throwing myself into a project when dealing with Serious Life Issues. It's distracting, it gives me little goals to work towards so I feel like I'm doing something, it allows me to get some control back when usually those issues are happening because I'm not in control of something, it's fun and makes me feel good about myself, and that's just how I process my emotions as a creative person. I need to have a writing project, or an art project, or a craft project, or a new hobby to learn, or a business idea to work on if I'm dealing with shit or else I just end up collapsing in on myself because it's too easy to let whatever the Issue is take over my life and my brain completely. (Come to think of it, I guess that's always what I relied on to be the end point of my wallowing sessions - getting to work on whatever project I was interested in most at the time.)

    Also, Xanax is pretty dope.
     
  7. Aetius

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    I make inappropriate jokes and take a "whadaya gonna do?" attitude. Eventually this will crumble and I will jump from a bridge. But whadaya gonna do.
     
  8. Juice

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    Some people on the board are aware, but for those that aren't, my sister had Hodgkin's Lymphoma twice. The first time we didn't know what it meant or much about it. She went through 2 months of chemo and was done. A year and a half later it returned, with a 50/50 success rate. She had more chemo, a stem cell transplant, and radiation, which absolutely ravaged her body. including throwing it into menopause when she was 22. We didn't know if she was going to fully recover. My parent aged 10 years through the ordeal and it was the most emotionally taxing period of my life. Shes now almost 6 years out from that and is doing great with two kids.

    I'll second Audrey's point. Allow yourself to be upset, scared, frustrated, and all of the emotions that come with it. Having a sibling that goes through something like that leave you feeling helpless. Helpless for them and helpless in trying to comfort your parents. One thing I regret was that I never really showed my emotions to my family, aside from my wife. I tried to be the strong one for them, but in the end I wasnt completely honest with myself or them with how I was feeling. I wont lie and say its going to be easy to see him get sick from the chemo, lose his hair, be bed-ridden, etc. Day-to-day you should keep yourself busy and hang with your brother, see how he's doing, if he needs anything, etc. That will bring you some comfort.

    Another thing I will mention is, do not look up statistics on the Internet. Ever. That will drive you insane and give you anxiety. Those statistics are from clinical trials under specific circumstances with specific kinds of patients. According to all the statistics around relapsed Lymphoma my sister should be dead by now. Statistics don't mean a thing when it comes down to a sample size of 1.
     
  9. toddamus

    toddamus
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    Thanks for the great responses. I'll let you guys know about my brothers history. 5 years ago it was discovered he had a 7cm brain tumor, he had three brain surgeries in three weeks and a fourth to place a shunt. Two years ago he had another surgery to complete the resection and a month ago it was found he as a geriatric form of leukemia. He's been sick a lot lately and reintregrating into the work place has been an issue due to cognitive deficits created from the surgeries and the personal problems that come from being a cancer survivor.

    About 7 years ago my sister was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma. She went through surgery, chemo and radiation and fortunately hasn't had a recurrence.

    I've seen a lot of cancer in my siblings in their 20s. My brother was 25 when the brain tumor was discovered, my sister 28 when she had her cancer.

    Thank you for all the amazing advice and support. I do tend to deal poorly when these things happen. I tend to get hammered as a way of alleviating the anxiety. I am blessed with high anxiety to begin with so these things really set me off. Lately with the stressors of moving to a new city, not knowing anyone, getting back into the swing of normal life and this, my stress has been insane. So booze is how I dealt with it. I need to find a different way.
     
    #9 toddamus, Oct 31, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
  10. toddamus

    toddamus
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    This is something I want to emphasize. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to medical procedures and prognosis. Everyone is an individual case and no one can predict how an individual will progress.
     
  11. Revengeofthenerds

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    And according to statistics I should be dead by now! And according to every doctor who treated my tumor or consulted, if I am living, I should be still living with serious side-effects and possibly still not able to walk. Ya me!! Instead I'm healthy as an ox and any injuries I have are of my own making.

    It's not about "beating the odds" or whatever. Because the odds are rigged with clinical studies and you might as well be reading french, that's how relevant it is to you. The body is a machine, just keep it properly fed and hydrated and you have as good a chance of beating something as anyone else does.

    As far as your anxiety, with your new environment.... there's a lot of anti-depressants out there that can really help out. If you break a bone, you cast it. If your brain breaks, it's no different just because you can't see it. Control as much as you can in your environment, get into a comfortable routine, and for sure find yourself a good psychiatrist. I'm not a big fan of pills, but they have their time and place. And they can bring extreme relief and quality of life when utilized under the proper circumstances.
     
  12. Dcc001

    Dcc001
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    I don't know if I've published anything in detail here, but during the week between Christmas and New Year of 2014/2015, I was served with lawsuit papers to the tune of about $150,000. They deliberately served on a day where i couldn't hope to contact a lawyer for almost a week, and it went downhill from there. I'll spare the details except to say that it was a real estate deal. It turns out I sold a house to people who wanted to replace the foundation and install a renter's suite, and they also wanted someone else to pay for it. EVERYONE is involved - they sued me, the realtor, the broker and Remax. The charges are 100% false, and I have documentation that proves they're false. It does not, however, remove their right to sue.

    I can't begin to describe the stress level. It's a constant, unrelenting, give-you-cancer stress. I think the accusation being totally false makes it worse; if I was slightly guilty, I'd probably feel some relief at getting caught. Or at least I wouldn't be in constant suspense.

    What it's shown me is that I have a very poor tolerance for stress. Also that my coping mechanisms need work. What I seem to have done for the 18 months or so from initial filing to face-to-face depositions was totally internalize everything. I did not sleep, I gained about 30lbs, I know damned well I went through a depression and overall I really should have handled it better.

    Rather than continue on this path, I'm trying to see it as an opportunity for growth. It's shown me glaring deficiencies in my game. So now I know that I need to find a way to NOT internalize something negative (i.e. I should not consider myself good or bad depending on whether or not a person is accusing me of something). I have to have WAY better boundaries with people in my life. In this case, my father is footing the legal bill because I don't have $40,000 extra floating around, and while I'm forever grateful for that - I don't honestly know how I would proceed in court if I was broke - the way I allow him to address me need(ed) a significant overhaul.

    Perhaps the biggest one, though, is learning to surrender control. In this case, sure...I can prepare. I can document and inform and get all my ducks in a row, but I have ZERO control. I can't decide to call off the lawsuit. I can't know how far these people will proceed or what lies they will tell. I can't know what the judge is ultimately going to decide. The whole thing is a big unknown and hundreds of thousands of dollars hangs in the balance. And I can't control any of it. Suffice to say, this is the portion of it that I deal with the worst. Give me a problem that I am liable for but cannot control and watch my brain devour itself.

    So, what do you do to handle life's hardships?

    1. Set solid boundaries with everyone involved. Maybe that means saying, "Let's only talk about [The Problem] when it's [time of day/place]. Maybe that means saying, "You don't get to blame me for this. I didn't cause it." Maybe it means saying, "This is not your concern, so please back off." Whatever it is, learn to say it as soon as possible and then enforce it.

    2. Monitor your thoughts and stop the negative stuff as soon as you notice it. I tend to spiral into a "What if?" cycle. I'll sit there and think, "Well if X doesn't work then we'll have to see about Y but what if A,B and C are going sideways and and and.... This stress cycle is profoundly unhelpful. It took some time to learn that deciding not to think about a thing is different than running away from a problem. You need to be shrewd with the stress you allow yourself to consider.

    3. If you think you're in a depression, get help. See a doctor, a counselor, whatever. I did not and I probably languished longer than I should have.

    4. Be kind to yourself, and know when to take a break. I would have been WAY better served last year if I'd said, "Alright, from now until the New Year I'm not doing a thing. Not unpacking a box, not painting a wall. Just going to veg." Instead I laid there, not doing a thing, feeling horrible about my laziness and frantically planning in my mind on how I was going to get stuff done next time. Don't do that. Take some down time and own it.

    It should go without saying that I'm still learning and no, I have not totally practiced what I'm preaching right now. It's a process.
     
  13. toddamus

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    I have been seeing a shrink. Some people on here know my story if if it'll help others I can open up. I'm no longer ashamed of seeing a therapist for the last year and working on myself. You guys may know I was pretty suicidal this time last year and I went and saw a therapist and we worked on turning that around. Having a good therapist is really an invaluable thing and a unique relationship, when its done right, it works well.

    It doesn't make sense to suffer when there are people out there who, beyond trying to help you, want to hear your story and nothing else. Some people go into therapy thinking this person is trying to fix them, which is not true, therapy is more about you doing the work, and helping yourself, a good therapist is a facilitator not a doctor giving medicine.