I always assumed that after writing my first article, everything else will be breezy. Boy, how I was wrong.
From the very moment when I decided that I wanted to start my blog, I knew that my mental health would be one of the big topics that I would like to write about.
I have always been aware that my psychology is over 70% of the problem. Since a young age, I was prone to being stressed or nervous about issues. That is just my nature.
During these last years, living with my diagnosis, my mental health has gone through loads of ups and downs.
As I mentioned in my previous article, the first year after the diagnosis was quite uneventful in terms of my mental health. I was confident and strong. Recently, I was trying to backtrack when things started to go wrong.
There isn’t really a specific point in time from which my mental health worsened but instead I believe it was a combination of different factors that started to affect me.
Firstly, the diagnosis affected the way I perceived home (that being my family home, Prague). Because Prague became associated with all those negative emotions and experiences, it started to evoke stress and anxiety. Every time I came home, it would be doctors’ appointments & examinations. And even thought my parents have always been the best in everyway, I could feel how desperate they were to help me and how it impacted their life. We had few arguments, usually because they naturally wanted the best for me and we disagreed on stuff. All that made almost every visit emotionally draining. It is something that has perpetually saddened me but that is the reality.
Secondly, my symptoms never disappeared. On the contrary, they have been slowly deteriorating. Not something that you can notice over a short period of time. Rather, it is a gradual process. But it is true that my facial asymmetry has been getting worse. Especially looking at older pictures, I can clearly see a progression and that has always been scaring me. It significantly affected my confidence -which is something that I would like to talk about in more detail in future posts.
Also, every new movement in my face or change would automatically bring the darkest thoughts. It is very hard not to be hypochondriac when you have a tumour in your head. Every headache, every pain, one immediately thinks of the worst. Some symptoms are genuine side effects but it is not easy at times to distinguish one from the other.
There is number of examples when a slight change in my body function(related or unrelated) would cause a major scare. For instance, because of where my glioma is, it affects my hearing and I cannot hear as well with my right ear. In September 2014, I flew to Prague to visit family and do my internship. The combination of being on a plane and my worsening hearing resulted in this blocked-ear-sensation. The ‘new’ symptom really freaked me out and caused me a lot of anxiety. It did not help that I was about to have my annual MRI which brings me to my third point:
Because of the progression of my symptoms and me becoming more and more self-aware and self-absorbed, the time around my next scan would automatically fill me with fear and negative thoughts. For the last 2 years, usually around the time of my next MRI I would have mental breakdowns that would last for few days, I would not eat and feel really down. I had last big one in January 2016, which – as you can guess – was the month of my scan. It was such a low point that I decided to take antidepressants again.
So these are the three main reasons for my psychological problems. It is something that I am fighting almost everyday and am working really hard to defeat. It is only recently that I started to realise and appreciate the power of our minds and how it can shape our overall wellbeing. It is something that I’m currently discovering and am very keen to learn more about.
I stopped taking the antidepressant in May and although I had a few really bad periods since then, I managed to stay away from medication – something I am really proud about.
At the moment, I am dealing with my issue through daily meditation, yoga, exercise and help from experts. It is a journey that does not provide immediate results but I believe that I am on the right track.
My next article will be about panic attacks & how I have been coping.
In the meantime, I recommend watching this inspirational TED Talk