I Cried over a Pork Chop

#adhd #adhdcoaching #productivity chemobrain perimenopause May 13, 2023

I cried over a pork chop.

I was in a chemo brain re-training group learning how to not forget allthethings.

My colleague expressed her frustration at being unable to find the pork chops she had prepared for dinner that night.

And I cried and cried.

In usual times, I would have chuckled and said “No worries. It’s only a pork chop. Order a pizza.”

But these weren’t usual times.

I had been stoic and upbeat all through surgery, chemo, radiation but now the weight of it was all collapsing in.

I was a cancer survivor who couldn’t even think straight.

I was in brain training.

And I was sure my brain was broken.

I thought I was broken.

 

Months went by and the chemo brain didn’t get any better.

I knew there had to be something more.

At the same time, our daughter was placed in learning skills at middle school.

I recognized her challenges as being a whole lot like what I dealt with in school.

But when I was in school back in the mesozoic era - not really but it was certainly the dinosaur age for girls and ADHD.

After all, nobody even considered that girls could have ADHD in the late 70s and early 80s.

So my brain challenges went unchecked.

 

I managed myself as best I could.

I put systems in place.

I had monthly highs and lows.

I would later learn about the strong effect estrogen has on our executive function.

 

Then in my early forties just after having my only baby, there was perimenopause.

And my estrogen started to decrease.

Estrogen helps fuel dopamine and serotonin, the natural happy feel good molecules that help motivate us so we can function.

And we ADHD folks already don’t have enough of either or they just don't work right.

When breast cancer is positive for estrogen and progesterone, the doctors are determined to shut down these hormones as quickly as possible.

That means at 50 (thankfully I was rounding the end of perimenopause) and a brand new breast cancer survivor, I was in full hormone shut down.

And I felt dreadful all the time.

Hormone replacement therapy isn’t an option for me thanks to cancer.

But if you’re struggling with perimenopause, it might be an option for you.

Ask your doctor, because I’m not allowed to offer medical advice!

 

Right after the great pork chop meltdown, I marched straight into the breast center down the hall and told the head of the breast cancer center what was happening.

She had me into the MSW in minutes and I saw the oncological psychiatrist the next day.

God bless the hospital for wasting zero time on my mental health.

They took it very, very seriously.

Even though I had sworn after my “last” depression that I would never take meds again, I was immediately put on a very low dose of the same mood stabilizer I had taken in the past.

The doctor explained that this was a chemical depression.

That I had the pathways for depression and chemicals from cancer had reopened them.

 

I will contend to my last breath that in fact it was the chemicals from chemo, but no one wants to admit that maybe the medicine they give you to kill cancer is also designed to kill cells in general.

And if you live through chemo, well you win.

You just might have some nasty side effects.

 

Co-morbidities (I hate that word) are not uncommon with ADHD.

That means two or more medical conditions at one time.

Diagnoses of anxiety and other mental illness in women rather than ADHD were the norm.

Delicate flowers that we were. LOL

And they still happen more often than any of us would like.

We CAN have two or more diagnoses at once.

I have anxiety and ADHD.

When my anxiety/ADHD goes unchecked I am prone to depression.

Though I haven't been depressed in over 6 years, thank goodness!

 

I liken my mental health story to a house.

The top floor was my occasional bouts of depression.

Those were fueled by the first floor - my anxiety.

It wasn’t until after age 50 and chemo brain that I discovered this house had a foundation (or basement) called ADHD.

If I had had help managing my ADHD, I might have had less anxiety.

I’m pretty sure I would have had less, but I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on tv.

But I can say with certainty that I have less anxiety now!

Because I know how to manage my ADHD brain.

I have a tribe of people who are just like me.

And I no longer feel broken.

You aren't broken either.

If you’re struggling with productivity at work because your ADHD and anxiety are getting in the way, let’s talk about options:  Productivity Breakthrough Session .




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