I stopped going to my support group seven months ago.  I stopped going because I thought everyone else there was doing better than me.  And I was embarrassed.

Last night, over tacos and tea, I told them this.  I shared that I’ve been struggling with depression and not a single person didn’t nod along.  We talked for two hours about the emotional aftermath of breast cancer.  We bonded over the intense anxiety, the pressure to “not let it come back,” the frustration that comes with not being able to “live life to the fullest” everyday, or even most days.  We commiserated over changed bodies, changed sex lives, and how to answer the once (but nevermore) innocent question of “How are you (*head tilt in full force*)?”  We agreed that the getting well after being sick is harder than the being sick.

And I wasn’t embarrassed anymore.  I was home.

This blog used to be my home, but I think I left it for the same reason as I did the support group.  I was embarrassed.  I was proud of how I had handled my cancer experience and not so proud of how I’ve fallen apart since.

You see, I have intense mood swings, and I don’t know if it is caused by Tamoxifen (a medicine that blocks estrogen) or my own innate craziness.  Chemobrain continues to haunt me, and I’ve been sleeping too much.  I have little patience with my family especially after 5pm.  I have gained twenty pounds, but I still have no breasts.  I’m generally a mess.

Buuuuut.  I mean, I’m also happy.  I like my job and I am so in love with my kids.  Like, if I could actually eat them up, I would.  Well, you know, when they’re not fighting each other or wiping boogers on my couch or calling my stomach “so squishy!” or locking the cat in the closet.  Seriously, you guys, the other day I found, like, 1.2 seconds to cozy up on the couch with my favorite blanket and a book, and Penny walked up and said, “Mom, you know I’ve wiped like a thousand boogers on that blanket, right?”

Umm, no.  No, I didn’t.

But I love that little booger picker.

As unwell as I still am, I am also well.  Kind of.  And I’m no longer embarrassed to say it because I know I’m not alone in this and, you guys, this is hard — all of this post cancer bullshit.  And life.  Life is hard.  Especially when you have to start a load of laundry asap and take an unplanned mid-afternoon bath lest your linens and you remain covered in a thousand boogers…you know, but it’s also dinnertime and your three-year-old just ran outside naked.



22 comments on “I’m not crazy; I’m just a little unwell.”

  1. I like to think all parents are a mess behind closed doors when there is no FB, instagram, or other parents around. I know I am! But we are all just doing the best we can and that’s all we can do! Keep up the good work. Your girls are so cute!

  2. I have so missed your blog! Yes, I myself am dealing with the depression after cancer. To top it all off, I have officially become a hypochondriac. Once you get cancer, that cancer cloud will follow you where ever you go. I am convinced that every little thing is my cancer returning. I’ve recently been taken off the letrozole because of painful joints. Funny thing is that my joints are still sore so I must be coming down with arthritis. Life is so full of twists and turns, it makes me dizzy. You are so lucky that you have children – my soon-to-be-ex never wanted any children.

    • Thanks. I have missed blogging. 😉 Hypochondria (or really fear of every little ache, itch, or pain) is real, real after cancer. I feel you.

      I really am so lucky to have my girls. I really realize that when I’m around other young survivors. Hugs to you.

  3. I was so excited to see your post. I really have missed your blog as I share so many of the same feelings. My one year old golden retriever has really helped me heal a bit this year. I am madly in love with him. Absolutely love the picture of you and your beautiful girls.

  4. I was so excited and also a little afraid to read your post, not knowing if you had taken a turn for the worse and that is why i haven’t seen your blog. I truly enjoyed reading it! You are inspirational and hilarious at the same time. I am old enough to be your mother, but feel a kinship with you. Hang in there! I am rooting for you living a long and joyful life with your family. Cancer sucks the big one, but no one else understands what it is like other than the ones who walk beside you along this crappy path. Hugs to you.

    • Yeah, I was worried that people might think this was a bad kind of announcement. Luckily, no. And thanks for the kind words. I am rooting for you (and me) too!

  5. Love that you are writing this again. Writing and reflection are good for the soul. I mean, boogers probably are too, but only from those you love.

  6. Thinking of you. Your blog was one of the first sources of comfort to me when I was diagnosed. Knowing you are now feeling much of what I’ve been feeling is again comforting. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  7. I followed your blog when you started and couldn’t imagine dealing with “something like that”….and then I was diagnosed myself in September of last year. Today I completed my 11th of 33 radiation treatments. Ive finished the “aggressive” chemo (now it’s just herceptin) and I’ve had my bilateral mastectomy (reconstruction to come later). It’s helpful to be able to relate to someone that can understand. I appreciate your honesty!! Keep pushing…..I’m rooting for you!

  8. Heather, I feel like I could have written this. I am a mess, too! And this tamoxifen-induced hell I’ve been in is awful. Thanks for coming back, I’m so glad to hear from you and cry with you and be happy with you all at the same time again.

  9. This is the part that doesn’t get talked about. It comes with the title of “survivor” and you feel a bit guilty if you can’t hang up your pink ribbon and move on. I am 8 years out from my second diagnosis and still have days when I get stuck, but they are fewer and fewer. The only people who truly understand are those who have been there. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You are forever changed, but it does get better.

  10. Thank you for coming back. You always find a way to make me feel normal again, help me see I’m not alone. I feel like it’s been 2years now I’m expected to say I’m ok. I finally felt comfortable to tell a friend that i feel like my battle began the day i was told i was cancer free. She looked at me and went… Why. I tried to explain but she’s never been there. Thank you for sharing and making my Friday

  11. As you are leaning. Being a survive is just as hard as the battle. It’s the biggest roller-coaster ride you can have. I’ve learned. Some days the best we can do. Is put a smile on your face, take one step forward and yes take breath at a time. You Heather have one of the warmest smiles I ever have seen. You are loved by many.

  12. Yes! Exactly. I struggle with the same issues. It will be a year in August that I was initially diagnosed and I have completed all treatments. Except for tamoxifen- still taking that. I struggle with anxiety and depression. Thank you for sharing. I needed to know I am not alone in this.

  13. Seeing this post gave me a smile. All the greats make comebacks, right?
    If you are fighting, you are ALIVE! So there’s that….. Keep stepping, my friend.

  14. I completely identify with your post. Not only that, but I remember when I was first diagnosed, and everyone was asking me how I felt. I felt fine, so that was frustrating. Now, they assume I feel fine because I look fine. Not the case. Very confusing and without a support group, I dont know how people can reconcile their feelings. Be well.

  15. Thank you. I needed this. Some days it is like a wave sweeps over me. I feel sad, lonely and afraid. I just had my one year checks and everything is good. Dealing with the side effect of the medication is no fun. But hey who said it would be. It helps to know I’m not alone.

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