Rebuilding after the worst year and a half of my life

Not sure I should even post about what has happened since it probably won’t help me much, but 2016 was the last time I felt like life was good. I had a job I loved…I was fighting my fears and trying to let go of old flames and succeeding. My past depression and anxiety were not rearing their ugly heads often, or at all. I even met a man that I thought might be a person who would be with me for the long haul…and oddly enough, so did my friends and family.

Things went extremely fast with this new guy. We just clicked. Within two weeks, he had the key to my place and somehow I trusted him when he told me I wasn’t alone anymore. Things were good for a while, and we spent weekends together sharing common interests. I’d cook, he’d clean…we would play board games and hang out with friends. He wanted to take me to meet his family out of state a month later…I couldn’t go because I didn’t gave leave time and I felt it was too soon. Normally, I would have run away screaming from anyone who wanted to move so fast but it was so natural and easy at first that I didn’t see us for what we actually were. Things started to unravel at the start of 2017, and my life, as well as my relationship began to fall apart.

I lost my job in January 2017. I had been there for years helping to build a startup with a team I considered my family. I wasn’t too scared at first, having the support of the new boyfriend, and many supporters helping me look for work, but after a few months of no success finding work, anxiety crept in. I got moodier the more scared I got, and two months passed. Then, I had a massive panic attack, fearing that I would be evicted, and wanted to pack up my place and get things into storage. My panic was largely ignored by my boyfriend, who felt it was irrational (duh, it was panic) and that packing could be done whenever…and accordingly decided he would rather play games that weekend instead of supporting me when I needed him most. We talked about it later and he could not understand why I was hurt by his actions, as he believed that he could always help me later. And help he did…he found boxes for me, and we started packing my things. But he made the packing about him. He stacked every box in my living room, and cleared my dining room so he could game there when he came over. I called him out on it but I was bothered that he felt like game space was more important than me feeling ok.

Shortly after this incident two things happened that I thought were great news. I got into a retraining program that would require me to be in classes several times a week, and every other Saturday for 4 months. And I finally landed a job! I felt hopeful.

However, I quickly learned that my boss was a narcissistic martyr who quickly started gaslighting me and resented my schooling schedule, despite being assured in my interview that the schooling schedule was acceptable to all parties. He was also paranoid about our mutual boss sabotaging him (and our whole team) and he tried to convince me that our boss would soon tear me and my work apart.

I was working 12-14 hour days when I wasn’t in school. I was exhausted and miserable and desperately tried to keep my head above water but I couldn’t maintain my relationship, schooling and the heavy workload and the antagonistic boss. My boyfriend stopped doing anything to help me at all and complained about everything I did wrong or right. I thought he would understand that when I finished school things would get better. But we never really talked about that, we danced around it. He got more and more detached A month before I finished school we fought and he ended our relationship. I had wanted to try and reset, but he was done. He said he wanted to be friends. I said no out of anger.

The next day I got bitten by a spider and swelled up so much that I had to go to the doctor. The injury lead to another fight with the boss…he peppered me with accusations about me having mental issues, questioned why I was even in school and basically told me I was useless. I was so frustrated that before I went to school I called HR and reported his behavior and requested to be reassigned to someone else. He found out and dedicated himself to subtly messing with me on a daily basis. And then, a few weeks later, he was let go. I was informed that it had nothing to do with my particular situation, but I felt guilty for reporting him, regardless. But the real kicker was that it meant the rest of our team had to scramble to cover his workload.

That would have been fine, except that two weeks later I got sick. The whole office was ill. Two weeks later everyone recovered. Except me. I was told by two friends to go to the doctor…and somehow I had mono. I spent a month recovering. And a month later, I had worse news…

I was diagnosed with a very rapidly growing tumor in my breast. My life was completely upended. I reached out to my ex for help and he tried to pretend he cared but ultimately ignored me when I started chemo. I didn’t hear from him after that first treatment. I felt terrible that he could hate me so much it would trump sympathy and empathy. I wasn’t looking for him to help me, I just wanted him to know what was happening. And if the shoe had been on the other foot, I would have tried to support him. Foolish, I know but regardless of what happened between us I would have had his back.

I didn’t get much in the way of help during the holidays from my new breast cancer support team and spent Christmas terrified and alone. Then I got the flu just in time for my birthday. I spent the next two months constantly coughing. The doctors said it was probably the chemo but it turned out to be bacterial bronchitis.

There’s so much more story but I’m exhausted by telling it. Needless to say, I’ve survived most of the treatment and am cancer free at present. I’m in radiation now with a few weeks to go, but I’m in pain, still alone and feeling hopeless. I should be happy I’m alive and that I’m soon going to be able to start over… but I’m lonely, sad and can’t even remember who I am. My face tingles, my toes are numb and my mind doesn’t work right any more. My big toenails had to be removed and my fingernails are dead, making it impossible to do much because I’m scared they are going to get ripped off accidentally. And I look as hideous as I feel.

I can hardly do the things I love and I know progress is slow after being poisoned for 4 months, operated on and then cooked for 6 weeks…but it’s really hard to stay positive.

Maybe it’s just the fact that treatment will be over soon but that’s where the fears really kick in. I’m not normal anymore. I’m not me. But people will see my improving and assume that means I am ok, and that I’m the old, functional person they knew before… and that’s even more terrifying.

I don’t know how I will get through this. I’m not even sure I want to. My life has gone into stasis and the slow crawl of recovery looms large in my mind. I was told I’d feel “normal” roughly a year from now. Whatever that will be.

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@TheGreatBaldina firstly I want to say thank you for sharing this - I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you. I’m sorry that you were put through all of this with your bosses and ex and that you had no support through such a difficult time. Society tells us that we need to have a job, a family our own place by a certain age and we believe it. Thing is - sometimes that doesn’t happen. You have to take time out to focus on YOU and where you want to be, how to get over your obstacles in life. You did that by reporting your boss for his inappropriate actions and you shouldn’t feel guilty over him losing his job. Even if it was to do with reports, it probably saved more people from going through the same thing, and you were incredibly brave to do that. Sadly you can’t help the results of your illness, but that doesn’t matter. YOU ARE A FIGHTER. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. You are so strong and I’m so proud to have been able to read your story. No, you probably won’t ever be “normal” but you know what? NONE OF US ARE NORMAL. We are all our own person, with our own stories. No one can take that from you. You will find someone that will be there with you through everything - to love you for you. However for now, you get that here and that’s OKAY. The community is here to listen and help you through your recovery however we can. It’s going to be a long, slow and probably painful process - but you WILL get through it and you are already on an amazing upward path just by sharing here and letting us in. It’s okay that you’re not okay, but it’s not okay to give in to those feelings. Keep posting here, keep us all updated. We are here to help and you will get through this. We love you for you and you’re so strong.

Hold Fast

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I see that you fear what may happen next for you. I’m glad that you are doing better than you have been and that you are fighting and surviving! Look at the bright side of things. You are in a good position to start fresh.

You are in a period of what I would call a reset, basically a new time and a new start. Mentally where you are at now it seems as if you are in that place. Focus on the positives that you do have. Don’t focus on what you went through or rather do but find a good place to vent those such as here.

I think we all have our ideas of normal but me personally I’ve never been normal so I can’t say I have ever been normal. For you that might be different and it’s okay. It’s okay to not be normal and it’s also okay to not feel normal. Basically, its normal to not feel normal especially after what you have been through.

I’m glad you posted here and I’m glad you came to us. We are here for you no matter what.
PMacDanceDude (Patrick) Team Out of the Ashes

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Hey @TheGreatBaldina,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It takes a lot of courage to open up to a bunch of strangers and I’m so proud of you! Usually I like to address larger posts paragraph-by-paragraph, but while reading your post, the only thing that kept ringing in my head was my own personal story, and how I believe that sharing it with you can help comfort you during your recovery from the worst 1+ year of your life.

January 2012-June 2013 was the worst period of my life (so, about 1 1/2 years as well). In a nutshell, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, sleep apnea and mild amnesia. I had frequent night terrors, my parents divorced and family crumbled, and I lost most of my friends to drugs. It was the darkest season of my life. However, now being on the other side, I can guarantee you that it WILL get better. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, run as fast as you can. Fight to get to the light. You’re a warrior. You’re strong. You got this and we love you!


@Kayla Thanks for the kind words. I feel like with each telling, it seems like all of this is less than it appears and that most people would tell me to buck up because that’s just life.ut I’m in a lot of paiin right now and I got
put on hold for finishing treatment for a week so the docs can continue to cook me for a final week. I thought at first the reprieve was good but now I feel like I’ve taken two steps back. I know I shouldn’t feel like that is a huge deal but even though, I rationally know that’s how this recovery is going to be after months of being poisoned, cut, smushed and cooked; however, my brain just wants to move forward with life as it’s picking up steam again.

I don’t really feel like a fighter. I guess survivor is more accurate. And well, normal? I was never really normal as a few of my good friends, and a few of my acquaintances have pointed out. So that I can adjust too, I guess.

I never used to care what anyone thought about my relationship status, or how I looked but now I feel adrift more because who I was has summarily been ripped away from me. It’s hard to not care when I can barely care for myself. I can’t cook (too hot, fingers too numb, nails too mangled), I can’t really go game (too much fatigue, bad short term memory) or dance or anything else I love to do, but I know that life is getting closer every day. I’ve been bouncing in and out of depression, and now I’m on pain pills for the week and the heat where I live is making it difficult to recover from radiation easily. It’s funny but the closer I get to being done the more tired and crotchety I get. I’m looking forward to a time when I don’t feel this way anymore.

So I’m glad you and anyone else here who might see this post are aware I’m not ok and that’s fine. I just think that people around me have cancer and drama fatigue but so do I. So it’s helpful people are here to just let me vent and not think “dang, girl…we know that already…staaaaaahp!” So thank you!

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@PMacDanceDude Fear seems like the only motivator in my life. latey. l am tired to the bone, which makes it hard to feel like I am in a good position to start fresh, as you put it. I get the sense I should feel lucky, but at the same time there’s so much to be done to reboot my life, and it feels like I’m just jumping from the stasis/chaos frying pan into the chaos of change frying pan. So I think it’s more fear of the unknown. But I’ll make it. I’m just having a hard time feeling it more often than not. I have to remind myself to be kind to me…but that’s probably the hardest part of this situation.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who isn’t normal. XD In the past it had been a point of pride for me to not be normal, for a variety of reasons.

Thanks, Patrick, for the thought of focusing on the positives, and for reminding me to focus on venting when I need it. At least here I don’t feel like a burden and that helps tremendously.

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@Eric Thank you for sharing your story with me. I’ve also got a history of clinical, chronic depression and anxiety, so I think I can grok that bit, but it sounds like you had a very rough time and made your way out of it. Not only am I happy to hear you made it through such harrowing experiences, but you were right…it give me hope when I am feeling hopeless.

I really do wonder when it will start getting better. Even smaller things that wouldn’ get me down are dragging me down right now, so it’s helpful to be reminded that all of us have problems and you never know who might help you get to that light, and how. Funny that a website like this might really help start me moving in the right direction. Perhaps someday, I will be able to return that favor, or at least pay it forward.

Thank you for being you, and again for sharing with me.

**Side Note: I realize now that I’m replying to several topics and should have @… each of you. Next time if my chemo brain allows me to remember that I will do it. XD

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I would never tell anyone just to get up and get over it. We all have to come down. Being a survivor is NOT something with no meaning. Surviving is hard. It requires strength and fighting. Even when things seem impossible. You’re not ever alone in this community - we love you and we are here. It’s okay to step down for a while.

Hold fast

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That is indeed an incredibly difficult period you endured. While of course you can look back and say “I made it, Im alive!” that doesnt mean you are done processing everything. I think you will have a long road of processing and that is ok. It is good. It is so much better than just moving on. What you will be able to do with all this is to prepare yourself for the rest of your life. It will bring you clarity in other situations, you will take what you have learned and know you are that much stronger and can endure what life brings you. Our trials are never wasted. I am reminded of my own life difficulties I have faced. Back then I didn’t think I would make it. God made the way and he has used those things to not only help others facing similar struggles, but He has prepared me for other trials I have since faced. My faith has grown and I know that God has been there through it all. Something you might find helpful–a journal. But a different type of journal. I don’t know if you are a Christian or not, but the concept can be the same. For me, my most intense struggles and prayers are written down. And then later when I have made it (or am in the process of making it), I write down how God has been there. It helps so much to have that to look back on to give me strength when I dont think I have any more. I will be praying for you. What you have already overcome HAS made you different like you said. But that is because you are stronger now. Even when we are weak, we are strong. <3

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