Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I think it has been building for a while.  But like most quiet storms, you aren't really sure it's under your feet until the ground is unsteady.

I made it through cancer (so far). I made it through the anniversary of my Dad's death.

And I find my walls slowly crumbling around me without my permission.

I'm struck with paralyzing panic attacks (NOW?) and lack of sleep and lack of appetite and I know I need help.

I'm reaching out to local cancer support groups and recovery friends and old-time friends and anyone I can think of to, ironically, get me through this next patch.

I barely made one phone call for help during my cancer.  Now that the dust is settling, I am feeling really, really fragile.  Maybe this is normal? How would I ever know?

I have felt the ground undulating under my feet for a while.  I thought getting the "all clear" from the biopsy would make it stop.

It got worse.  The anxiety, that is.

So I'm pulling in and reaching out.  I'm pulling in to to the people who know me best, who can give me advice that isn't part of One Crafty Mother and has everything to do with Ellie.

I think it may be one of those things where you can be strong when you need to be, and then when the horn sounds you collapse.  I bet soldiers, and cancer survivors, everywhere know what I mean

At least I hope you do.

So I may go quiet for a while.  Or I may not.  I don't know.  I know I need my people around me, some quiet introspective time where I actually stop typing and pick up the phone and ask for help.  I'm doing that.

And, my kids.  Summer starts soon. We've all been through the wringer.  I have a Teddy Bear picnic in half an hour and then a play day here and all I want to do is cry and sleep.

My kids deserve more, so I am saving any extra energy I have for them.

Knowing me, I'll be back here tomorrow babbling away.

But maybe not.

Whatever this is, it's deep and rumbly and scary and I need to pay attention to it..

ALL of you, each and every one of you, has helped me in some way.  Which is why it's hard to pull away for a bit.  I keep wanting to say thank you.  So, thank you.   See you soon


  1. Google my greetings from the bottom post on sobriety girl. Glad to see you surviving and will continue to!

  2. Lots of love, Ellie. *hugs* Whether you post tomorrow, or a week from now, or a month from now, know that I care about you and wish you the best. Anxiety is no picnic, and I'm glad you're doing what you need to do.

  3. The fact that you're reaching out--that you know what is going on and what you need--to me that's a fantastic sign of strength.

    Love you. Remember? When that current is so hard to navigate? Let go. Downstream. We will ride with you.

  4. I think it is completely normal to have the anxiety and the panic set in after the events. It happens to me this way. I'll have something major happen-- and you have to deal with it in the moment; there is no other option-- and then after you've dealt with it, and there's a chance to breathe... Well, that's when all hell breaks loose.

  5. I call it the "now what?" after you finish treatment. You are do busy "doing" once you finally get the treatment plan and when you reach the end there is a void in your thoughts and schedule. You look around and say now what? Very, very common. Take care of you.

  6. It's PTSD, so you're absolutely right about soldiers feeling it, too. And accident victims and a whole host of other folks. Not for nothing, when you're in treatment all the medical people are telling you what to do next and how to handle each hurdle. Now you have to/get to figure out each step on your own. Of course that's terrifying!

    You probably know about Band Back Together but if you don't it's another good resource. Aunt Becky started it because she had PTSD after her daughter had a grave illness.

    I'm glad you're reaching out in all directions and recognizing how scary the new lease on life can be.


  7. I know exactly what you mean about having the meltdown after the dust has settled. Go. Do what you need to do. Take care of yourself.

    Lots and lots of hugs to you.

  8. I have panic disorder, and was just discussing this with someone else recently - when you're in the crisis, you hang on and get through. Once the crisis is over, and you start to relax - that's when all the tension you were holding it in comes out and bashes you over the head.

    I remember thinking about how the attacks just tear you to pieces, but once you finally get through to the other side, you are so much stronger, and can withstand much more than you could before the breakdown and rebuild.

    Take care.

  9. Oh, Ellie! Take care of yourself. Sometimes, the "after" is harder than the during. I'm hoping you feel led to continue posting, but my prayers are with you and yours.

  10. I know, I know, I know this feeling and I was so bewildered by it. Like you I would look up and go, "NOW?! I feel this way?" Parts of me are still uncoiling from all of that. I hear you.

  11. I work in the world of disabilities, including psychological. It's very common for someone to be perfectly fine through a crisis and then seem to 'fall apart' afterward. In fact, stressful and/or life-threatening events are known to be one of many possible causes of disabilities like panic disorder or panic / anxiety attacks. The good part is that these can be treated and in many cases, will disappear with coping strategies like staying away from caffeine, doing deep breathing, practicing relaxation techniques, and in some cases, going to a psychiatrist or psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy (or exposure therapy if there is a specific phobia) and/or antidepressants.

    On a personal level, I know that feeling of this nameless terror grabbing your throat and squeezing - the hyperventilation, the sweating, the feeling of not quite being all there (dissociation), the nausea, the intense desire to get away. For me it's part of my demophobia; I've learned strategies to cope with it and the attacks don't happen nearly as often now. Reaching out for help is the best thing anyone can do... knowing what your triggers are, letting people know that this happens and what the best thing for them to do in situations like that, (e.g., get you to sit down, have them ask you to focus on your breathing) and practicing self-care. Lots and lots of self-care.

    You're going to be okay, Ellie. This is normal for what you've been through this last year, and these symptoms will pass. You're doing what you need to do in order to look after yourself - and you have SUCH friends!! I'm in awe of them - and of you. Courage!

  12. I think this feeling (judging from my own experiences) is similar for many of us after getting through the scary parts. Aftershocks of cancer and treatment . . . once the pressure is off, we are finally hit with how BIG this is, and a new type of fear arises.

    When my cancer treatments ended, I found myself getting depressed and really scared (it was a big surprise), and I know other ladies who have struggled post-treatment as well.

    Take your time with this. Don’t ever feel guilty for pulling back on the blog, but at the same time, never hesitate to ask for support. It will get easier, however, time is required.


  13. Ellie,

    I am glad to see you doing what you need to do... I know the ripples from going through cancer diagnosis/radiation/chemo left me with symptoms I can only describe as PTSD... when I was going through it, I was often too physically weak and drained to really engage with what was happening to me. Then, in recovery, it took quite awhile to re-gain my balance. Physically, spiritually and emotionally... a balance between despair and euphoria. For awhile, anxiety and fear had the upper hand. I will be praying for you - please put caring for yourself and your family first... everything else can and will wait.

    God bless you. You have more strength than you know. Be as compassionate and gentle with yourself as you have been to everyone you have shared with.

  14. In sure you'll find lots of support and get the help you need but I wanted to post and say never doubt that this too shall pass . When you have a near miss when driving then at the time you deal with it and it's afterwards you pull over and sit and shake from the close call . Perhaps you are now off autopilot and processing the shock of it now ? Thinking of you x

  15. This is what I call the stress hangover. It can happen after a short period of stress, or after a prolonged one like you've had. It is at these times that I rely on my anti-depressants/andi-anxiety meds to get me through. I think this is a perfectly "normal" reaction to all the stress. You've taken care of your physical body. Now is time to take care of your spiritual/emotional side. If you need medical help to get you through it, then do. Sandi Ratch

  16. Ellie, take care of yourself however that needs to be. Will be here when you post and will think of you often when you don't. Migraines are like the anxiety-they wait sometimes until the crisis is over and then they come on like a freight train. Take care of Ellie, please.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. It was my experience that I was all about staying strong and fighting the good fight while I HAD cancer. Once I was in remission, there was no enemy to fight, so then I started to panic that while I was trying to go back to living a normal life, NEW CANCER might be growing in me. I went to therapy. I learned to live within the glorious uncertainty, because, really, that's what LIFE is. And I'm 20 years in remission now. Hang in there!

  19. You do know how normal this is, right? When things are at their worst you just have to get through them so you don't have time to feel. Once that's all over, the emotions come 10 fold.
    So you take care of you, and we'll be here when you come back.


  20. I just left a little "group" therapy type of session where the woman talked about embracing your emotions and accepting them for what they are. Those specific feelings aren't going to be there forever, but for now, they just are and that's ok. I kind of liked that because I was feeling very anxious/angry at the time and had been for a few days and just didn't know how long I'd have to feel that way...I guess I just need to feel it instead of trying to go over it/under it. Rolling on through just is what it is, for now! I've spent way to much time in my head getting in my own way. Take care of you.

  21. Gillian in WalesJune 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Uh-huh. We're all saying the same thing. This feeling is NORMAL, and that you are doing just what you need to do on a day to day (minute to minute) basis - looking after yourself.

    I had a fabulous wedding, just after graduating. And went down with full blown flu on honeymoon. Once the stress is over, the body relaxes, all the adrenalin disappates and then the vitamins etc that have been used up by the adrenelin doing its thing show up in their defficiency. Bam! Happens physically, as well as emotionally.

    Hugs. Look after yourself, have fun, be Ellie, and we'll see you when we see you :-)

  22. Hey there's commong to experience depression and anxiety after chemotherapy. Obviously the life situation is ENOUGH to make anyone stammer. Good for you for talking about it but there is a link to depression and anxiety after your body has chemotherapy and can be drug induced.

    Don't pressure yourself - I'm glad you are cancer free but that still means you can have a crappy day just BECAUSE. You are under no obiglation nor are you being disrespectful or ungrateful if you don't feel like celebrating EVERYPRECIOUSMOMENT of life because you have been through cancer. You can take some of it for granted. It's okay.

    Hugs, love and healing prayers.

  23. Hi Ellie -

    Two weeks ago I took my high-school age son to the doctor at his request. He had apparently been dealing privately with anxiety for some time, but it had become much worse over the last year and a half. The doctor spent quite a bit of time with him and diagnosed an anxiety disorder. He has been started on medication as a precautionary measure (due to family history) to bridge the time until he can see a psychiatrist and hopefully be directed to CBT and other treatments. I would never have wanted him medicated, but it is wonderful to see him smiling and relaxed again and able to enjoy his graduation. He is amazed how good and normal he feels. We will work on other (non-prescription) options over time but as the doctor said he wanted to alleviate his suffering in the short term as well. I am sure many other members of my family (including myself) have lower level anxiety issues - but we (ab)use alcohol. I am glad he is getting help at a young age and will hopefully learn better methods of coping.

    I hope this terrible time passes quickly for you.

  24. Panic attacks suck, I know the feeling of the world dropping out from under me too well, how it sucks us in before we even are aware of what's happening....

    As a survivor of alcoholism, ptsd and so much more I know where you are....and I'm telling you there is hope.

    Find today Ellie.

    Just today.

    Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't happened and we live one day at a time. Turn to God/your Higher Power and be willing. You know he'll guide you, lead you to the memories you can make in this one day.

    I'm here, I'll always be here for you as you are for me.

  25. You got through the many steps of alcoholism; the sudden and shocking death of your father; your scare of doctors and then treatment and recovery from cancer.Not bad!! You will get through this new period as well as you have in the past as each stage has prepared you for the next one and you have developed and know how to use your amazing coping skills. I hope that you continue to use your great writing skills as part of this period as we all want what is best for you.

  26. Oh Ellie, You just hang in there. Do whatever you need to do. We'll be here, whenever you decide to start typing again. Love, love, love.

  27. You have been through a very emotionally and physically draining experience this past year and you will need time to heal both your body and your mind. I wish you luck and remember to "let go and let God"

  28. Don't know if you are a fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter, but I'm finding her new CD, ASHES AND ROSES, to be very mellow, healing stuff. I'm living in it these days.

    Hope brighter days come soon ...

  29. You go and be who you need to be, where you need to be it at. I love how well you know yourself and what you need. Know your name will cross my lips daily as I continue to lift you in prayer. God bless you, precious lady.

  30. I think it is totally normal to fall down once the immediacy of things has passed. You'll find your muchness again. Be kind to yourself.