How did you deal with anxiety and depression?

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NewbieSlo

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I'm still coming to terms with my situation (for those of you, who do not know me - I had sever attack of rheumatic fever last year and went misdiagnosed for many months, so I was "guranteed" to have valve issues in years to come).

I became completely obsessed with the whole situation, severely depressed. The worst parts for me are:

- feelings of guilt (though I went to several doctors, i still question myself, could I have done more to get diagnosed properly and timely)
- feelings of injustice/being robbed of my life
- wait and see game: I can't do anthing just wait and see when the valve issues will become prominent, and boy, I hate waiting,
- being a single women and 35 years old does not help: I focused in my career and always thought I have all the time on the world to have a family, and look at me now
- I lost confidence in myself: I question why would anyone want to be with me and why should I live at all (no, don't worry, no suicidal thoughts, just feelings of complete emptiness and struggling to find new meaning in life)


How did you find strenght to move on, re-organize your life? I feel like my life was perfect (good job, friends, everything ahead of me), and now i feel like being sentenced to life in prison without parole.
 

dornole

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Depression meds, for about a year, just to get enough out of the hole that I could help myself. That was the initial access of strength. Then slowly adding - physical foundations for mental health as much as able. Sleep, exercise that I AM able to do, sunlight, healthy diet (less carbs more healthy fats and protein), pumping in music into me. Books: "You Can Feel Good Again" by Richard Carlson and "the How of Happiness." Learning techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy to escape negative thought loops. All those things helped a lot more than meds. But I personally was really helped by meds to have the energy to challenge depression.

I tried therapy but did not find the right person - books helped me more. But if I could have found a good cognitive behavioral therapist I bet that would have helped. You might consider that, you sound pretty low. Or even someone who specializes in grief and loss, you seem to be grieving the loss of the life you expected and maybe someone with that perspective could help you through that and reconnect with a more hopeful and calm outlook of what you still have to live for.

I guess I never had the injustice thought. I look around and I see it's not reasonable to expect that bad things aren't allowed to happen to me. It seems like your biggest hurdle is how to change those thoughts - again they seem like grief and loss thoughts - of injustice, guilt, finding new purpose after such a big change. Learning about cognitive behavioral therapy and the 10 thinking errors might be one place to start. From a book or a caring therapist that uses that evidence-based model.
 

dick0236

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NewbieSlo;n847586 said:
I'm still coming to terms with my situation (for those of you, who do not know me - I had sever attack of rheumatic fever last year and went misdiagnosed for many months, so I was "guranteed" to have valve issues in years to come).........
.........How did you find strenght to move on, re-organize your life? I feel like my life was perfect (good job, friends, everything ahead of me), and now i feel like being sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Me too. My rheumatic fever was misdiagnosed as scarlet fever......although it wouldn't have made much difference if it had been correctly diagnosed since there where few antibiotics available at the time to fight serious infections......I was 5 and, yes, it did "guarantee" a valve issue in years to come.....I had corrective valve replacement when I was 31. It was tough dealing with the post surgery feelings that you describe and it took me a long time to fully deal with the whole damn thing. Now that I have come thru it.......and lived a full life, I look back and wonder why I wasted so much time worrying about all the "what ifs". While this is "not a walk in the park" it is very doable and, in all probability, will impact your future very little.....unless you let it.

Like they say here, the waiting for surgery is a bad time so stay in touche with the folks on this board.....who are also waiting and those post-op who will tell you it is only a " bump in the road".
 

AZ Don

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How did you find strenght to move on, re-organize your life? I feel like my life was perfect (good job, friends, everything ahead of me), and now i feel like being sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Well I've always felt like I was given an extended life when it could easily have been cut short (3 Dr's failed to notice a scan report identifying a 5cm Aortic Aneurysm - always get copies of medical reports). If all you need is an aortic valve replacement then frankly you are lucky to have something that can be fixed. Even if multiple valves are effected I think they can be fixed. There are many problems that cannot be fixed. I had my aortic aneurysm fixed but my bicuspid aortic valve spared and it wasn't leaking prior to the surgery but it was after, so I may have to have that replaced some day. It's not something I think about much, I'm focused more than ever on enjoying life. You mentioned in another thread having lost faith. That is not a subject that I can help with but if you want to be happier I think the mindfulness approach may have merit. I recommend the book 10% Happier as a good introduction. Currently I'm reading the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and am enjoying it.
 

Bushman

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Newbie Slo,
I understand how you feel, I wasn't always the eternal optimist. I believe that everything happens for a reason, I know it sounds cliché but even if that isn't the case, I try to turn everything into an opportunity, I am using the downtime after my upcoming surgery to take some courses and change careers. I like to have the attitude that " I never lose...I either win or I learn".

Nobody wants to go through OHS but since we don't have any other options, why not make the best of it. Sometimes these things can be a blessing in disguise, you just have to be open minded enough and curious enough to see what happens next.

Mental health has everything to do with physical activity, diet and structure in your life. Get daily exercise that will elevate your heart rate and that preferably is fun, eat a well balanced diet with lots of vitamin rich fruit and plan your day and make attainable goals. All of these factor in to a health body and mind.

I find that if I keep myself busy, I don't have time to think about down thoughts...It's when I'm not busy that I can start to drive myself crazy.
All the best to you and remember, after it gets worse, it ALWAYS gets better!
 
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pellicle

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Hi


sorry to hear that you're suffering. I felt like complete sheet after my last operation and genuinely felt washed up. I felt that I had cheated my wife out of marrying a good strong man to tend her and our kids.

I came to understand that such (strong) feelings were really a chemical side effect of the operation and the drugs. Its common.

I'll try to get back to that point, but in the mean time:

- feelings of guilt (though I went to several doctors, i still question myself, could I have done more to get diagnosed properly and timely)

well don't kick your self too hard. I think I understand how you feel. When my wife died of that brain tumor I kicked myself for months (and like that implies I've stopped doing it) afterwards and assailed myself with "why didn't I see (insert this or that)"

the truth is that diagnosis is not like we see on TV in CSI but a complex and ever changing (patient to patient) continuum.

- feelings of injustice/being robbed of my life

my wife was robbed of her life, you still have yours as I do mine. That it is not what you dreamed of only suggests you need to see your dreams differently


- wait and see game: I can't do anthing just wait and see when the valve issues will become prominent, and boy, I hate waiting,

you are quite young ... only 35 as you mention soon ... you've still yet to learn a few things about waiting.

- being a single women and 35 years old does not help: I focused in my career and always thought I have all the time on the world to have a family, and look at me now

well I'd say that you're 35 and still have time for many things in life. I met my wife when I was 41 (in South Korea) we got married 3 years later.

- I lost confidence in myself:

clearly ... it actually something which I see as a side effect of living in the "western dream" which is of course some sort of nightmare...

I question why would anyone want to be with me


you are still the person you were before the surgery, you still have the same personality and you still have the same interests and facets. If you were only to marry based on some point score chart then that would be a typical western view / consumer society view of who you are and what value you bring to someone's life.

and why should I live at all


you have no choice in the matter, you were born (as we all were) without being asked ... so you live also, without being asked.


what you need to do now is just take one day at a time and re-learn who you are.

(no, don't worry, no suicidal thoughts, just feelings of complete emptiness and struggling to find new meaning in life)

I understand that feeling ... I struggle with it every day since my wife died.

How did you find strenght to move on, re-organize your life?

I don't know ... I just make one step at a time. Survial courses I did years ago (actually jungle survival, but it applies) taught me to not attempt to plan too far ahead ... just do what you can today, try to do as much as you can. Sit on your arse and look at the sky if you can't.

its all anyone can expect.

I feel like my life was perfect (good job, friends, everything ahead of me), and now i feel like being sentenced to life in prison without parole.

if they were good friends, then they still are ... if their friendship depended on your health, you know ... they weren't good friends.

that's my life too. Now I just wait till I'm dead because the two humans in this world who loved and cared for me for who I was are now dead.

but in the mean time I do my best to reflect on things I have learned and the experiences I have been given (by them) ... if you feel like you need some one to listen, please attempt to PM me (if that works now on this stupid site) and I'll try to make time on skype or some other method to listen and offer what reflection I can

Best Wishes
 

Blue Sue

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Newbie-I am sorry you are feeling so crappy. I am waiting for my OHS-AVR...39 days to go. I too have feelings similar to you, I am 42. I however am married with two kids and am not happy. Why the hell am I not happy? I am trying to figure that out. For my anxiety my cardiologist has given me xanax which I take at night before bed so I don't lay there listening to my heart and all of its hickups and burps which gives me panic attacks...ug. I also have a counseling appointment set for today to try and work out the happiness thing...I'll have to get back to you on that. I have started taking Yoga for the first time to get at least some exercise since I am forbidden to run anymore. Today will be my second class and I like it so far...I am with about 7 other women all close to my own age and even though we don't talk it is comforting to be around other women just doing our thing. It is recomended to get flexable before surgery and to build core strength....so Yoga it is. A friend has given me some books to read but I just can't get into them...I like to read lighter material to get out of my head a little. Keep me posted on how you are...I am here every day looking for inspiration.
 

mbeard

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Newbie,

The strength of the people on this forum, the empathy they provide with their own life experiences...I hope it gives you some comfort.

I have a theory about the peaks and valleys that life throws at us. There is a high road and a low road. Of course all of us are going to spend some part of life on the low road. But we have to keep kicking, screaming, and working hard to get back to the high road. Easier said than done sometime, I know.

I am thinking about you Newbie . You too, Blue Sue and your upcoming surgery.
 

PGARG

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Hi NewbieSlo,
I found out, quite accidently, a few months back that i had a bicuspid valve that needs replacement immidiately. I am 41, married with 2 kids, and had a pretty good life, with no health issues. It hit me hard and everything seemed to come crashing down. But as i started reading more, researching and understanding the process, i felt better and better. I had surgery 4 weeks back, and i am already walking 4-5 miles a day and looking forward to going back to my regular life in another month or so.
So yes, while its a serious thing, it doesnt mean your life is over. You will get through this and then move on with your life. I had moments of depression, and tears and all those things while waiting, but this site, and all the other information helped dispel those fears. By the time surgery week came, i was quite at peace, and optimistic. And that helped.
You are quite young, and will recover and bounce back in no time. These experiences make us stronger and not weaker.

Oh and One thought really helped me. I realized that i was totally spoiling my days pre surgery with all the negative thinking, rather than going out and having a blast. Whatever is coming, is coming, and no point dwelling on it everyday. I don;t want tomorrow's pain, Today......so i did enjoy my last few days wit friends and family and went in with a positive mind.


Good Luck
 

big_L

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I was hit pretty hard for some reason in my mid 20's when the murmer was first heard. I guess I had never felt like I wasn't 'perfect' before. I got over it with time.

Then last spring when I walked out of the Dr's office after the echo showed it was time for surgery. That was tough. I'm sure I was probably depressed and as it typical for me, I immersed myself in work and heart surgery research. My wife and I started arguing and fighting due to the stress of the upcoming surgery and due to her unresolved anger/disappointment from her breast cancer diagnosis/treatment a few years earlier. Pile on top of that our unhappiness with where we lived at the time, how far we felt we had to travel for a decent surgeon and it was awful. I ended up using the EAP at my job. The counselor wasn't great, but I think it helped some. I'm a typical male, sitting and talking about my feelings was like having a root canal. I also read a few books about preparing for surgery etc, as others have already suggested. Relaxation/meditation tapes/mp3s helped me a bit also.

One tidbit from a Steven Covey book that they gave us at work almost 20 years ago has always stuck with me. You chose how you respond to life's challenges.
 

NewbieSlo

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I’m touched by the share number of fellow members how came to rescue – thank you all very much for your thoughts of wisdom and encouragement!

I will come back to you all in a couple of days, to coment, respond. Right now I’m going to take some time off - my birthday is coming up on Monday, I go to Italy for a couple of days (I live close to Italy, so it is a short ride in car for me - less than two hours), hopefully it will help my spirt.
 

Nupur

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I am not coping very well, so I don't have any words of wisdom for you, just understanding. I have been in the waiting room for more than 6 years, watching my health decline, always fearful, always anxious. As surgery comes nearer, it's getting worse. The worst part is the uncertainty and waiting, and the loss of control over my most important organ : ) I am a mom in my late forties, so my responsibilities are overwhelming. Not quite the same situation as you. I have never tried depression meds but I think I should. Do whatever it takes coz you might be in this funk for a while : ) Hugs.
 

NewbieSlo

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I'm back from a short trip, was nice, at least for a few hours a day I did not obsess about the whole situation.

dornole;n847617 said:
Depression meds, for about a year, just to get enough out of the hole that I could help myself. That was the initial access of strength. Then slowly adding - physical foundations for mental health as much as able. Sleep, exercise that I AM able to do, sunlight, healthy diet (less carbs more healthy fats and protein), pumping in music into me. Books: "You Can Feel Good Again" by Richard Carlson and "the How of Happiness." Learning techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy to escape negative thought loops. All those things helped a lot more than meds. But I personally was really helped by meds to have the energy to challenge depression.

I also decided to go on depression meds, for the same reason, that you mentioned, so that they help me enough to be able to start helping myself. Thanks for the tips on book,s Amazon package is already on the way to my doors.

dornole;n847617 said:
I tried therapy but did not find the right person - books helped me more. But if I could have found a good cognitive behavioral therapist I bet that would have helped. You might consider that, you sound pretty low. Or even someone who specializes in grief and loss, you seem to be grieving the loss of the life you expected and maybe someone with that perspective could help you through that and reconnect with a more hopeful and calm outlook of what you still have to live for.

I got referral by my GP to see a therapist, I have not been there yet, so don't know how will I like it. I think I will either like it or hate it - no middle way. But it is true what you say, "I'm grieving the loss of life I expected".


dornole;n847617 said:
I guess I never had the injustice thought. I look around and I see it's not reasonable to expect that bad things aren't allowed to happen to me. It seems like your biggest hurdle is how to change those thoughts - again they seem like grief and loss thoughts - of injustice, guilt, finding new purpose after such a big change. Learning about cognitive behavioral therapy and the 10 thinking errors might be one place to start. From a book or a caring therapist that uses that evidence-based model.

I sense of injustice comes from disbelief, that rheumatic fever can be misdiagnosed in a country of European Union in 2013. I think this simply should not have happened - I've been to more
doctors you can think of. So that is why I feel I was cheated. I trusted we have a good health system, but now I simply don't have that trust anymore - not a good thing when you are are doomed to need their services in the future. I do agree with your observation, that my biggest enemy right now are my thoughts and lack of purpose. Hopefully the combo of meds and therapy will give me some strength to help rebuild my life.
 

NewbieSlo

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dick0236;n847623 said:
Me too. My rheumatic fever was misdiagnosed as scarlet fever......although it wouldn't have made much difference if it had been correctly diagnosed since there where few antibiotics available at the time to fight serious infections......

I think it is always hard to accept that you were a case of medical malpractice/misdiagnosis, but as you said, in your case it would not have made much of a difference. Well in 2013, it sure would made all the difference, had I been diagnosed correctly. And that still pisses me off!

dick0236;n847623 said:
Now that I have come thru it.......and lived a full life, I look back and wonder why I wasted so much time worrying about all the "what ifs". While this is "not a walk in the park" it is very doable and, in all probability, will impact your future very little.....unless you let it.

Dick, since I joined this site, your story has been one of the most inspiring ones. And I thank you for taking the time and come to us, newbies, time after time. I also agree that "what ifs" cause only worry and bring nothing good, but I guess it will take me some time to accept the reality and move on.
 

NewbieSlo

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AZ Don;n847628 said:
Well I've always felt like I was given an extended life when it could easily have been cut short (3 Dr's failed to notice a scan report identifying a 5cm Aortic Aneurysm - always get copies of medical reports). If all you need is an aortic valve replacement then frankly you are lucky to have something that can be fixed. Even if multiple valves are effected I think they can be fixed. There are many problems that cannot be fixed. I had my aortic aneurysm fixed but my bicuspid aortic valve spared and it wasn't leaking prior to the surgery but it was after, so I may have to have that replaced some day. It's not something I think about much, I'm focused more than ever on enjoying life. You mentioned in another thread having lost faith. That is not a subject that I can help with but if you want to be happier I think the mindfulness approach may have merit. I recommend the book 10% Happier as a good introduction. Currently I'm reading the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and am enjoying it.

I think you have a good outlook on life, I hope to able to switch to gratitude attitude soon (that we live in Western society, where valve problems can be fixed, imagine living in some poor country, that condition would be a death sentence). Thank you also for the book recommendations, books are on the way to me.
 

NewbieSlo

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Bushman;n847648 said:
Newbie Slo, I understand how you feel, I wasn't always the eternal optimist. I believe that everything happens for a reason, I know it sounds cliché but even if that isn't the case, I try to turn everything into an opportunity, I am using the downtime after my upcoming surgery to take some courses and change careers. I like to have the attitude that " I never lose...I either win or I learn".!

I like your attitude, Bushman. I'm trying to adopt the same attitude. My life till rheumatic fever has been too much work and too little play. First it was university, then master studies, work, learning languages (I speak quite a few of them...). My working schedule for the last 5 years has been crazy - in fact in the month before i got sick I was (for business) in three continents. So perhaps something must have happend for me to realize that this is madness. I also always thought I have all the time on the world, which led to postponing everything and just working. I now realise, that we do not know how much time we have, and we should live each day.

Bushman;n847648 said:
Mental health has everything to do with physical activity, diet and structure in your life. Get daily exercise that will elevate your heart rate and that preferably is fun, eat a well balanced diet with lots of vitamin rich fruit and plan your day and make attainable goals. All of these factor in to a health body and mind
I find that if I keep myself busy, I don't have time to think about down thoughts...It's when I'm not busy that I can start to drive myself crazy.
All the best to you and remember, after it gets worse, it ALWAYS gets better!

I do have a very healthy diet, but I'm still very week from the disease - I'm able to go for long walks, but from physical activity, that is basically all I can do. I used to love running, I can't do that now, not sure if it will stay this way or I can expect some improvement. And that does suck.
Regarding keeping myself busy- It is the same for me - the more time I have to think, the more I drive myself crazy! Sure, you need some time to think it through, but overanalyzing has never done me good.
 

NewbieSlo

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Agian;n847665 said:
Hey Newbie, chin up. Don't be so harsh on yourself. You're allowed to be sad and anxious.

Being 35 and single... What's your point?

Well, my point is, that this whole situation does have an impact on my self-esteem and consequently this does affect the chances to get to know someone (so feel "good enough" to socialise or let someone close). Also, being a women does add (in my opinion, sorry guys) some additional stress - heart disease and pregnancy do not go well hand in hand. And I believe I read somewhere (sorry, don't have the source no) that ones your valves are affected, that degeneration my happen quicker in younger women, due to the hormones. So yes, being 35, single, and women, all adds some pressure. BUT I admit, that I would be a mess regardless of age or gender right now. Hell, I think I would be an even bigger mess, if I had small children. It is a shock and I need to learn how to deal with it.
 

NewbieSlo

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pellicle;n847666 said:
Hi

my wife was robbed of her life, you still have yours as I do mine. That it is not what you dreamed of only suggests you need to see your dreams differently

I said this elsewhere, but I will repeat here: If I had to endure half of what you had, I'd be in a nuthouse or cemetery. Reading your life story does make me realise, that I'm fortunate. As you said, I still have my life. I still have my parents, that adore me and are in good health (although thing might change quickly; my father is 72 and mom is going to turn 67).


pellicle;n847666 said:
what you need to do now is just take one day at a time and re-learn who you are.

Agree, and I have heard this from my people who have been though difficult times: when faced with difficulties take one day at a time. "What ifs" do just harm.

pellicle;n847666 said:
I understand that feeling ... I struggle with it every day since my wife died.

How long ago did your wife died?


pellicle;n847666 said:
if they were good friends, then they still are ... if their friendship depended on your health, you know ... they weren't good friends.

I do think that I will loose some friends, well I should say acquaintances. It does not hurt me, that I will lose them, it hurts me, that I trusted them and put faith in them. What I'm afraid is, that I will be in my black hole for so long, that also true friends will get tired of my complaints, being stuck in the past, me not doing anything. ..


pellicle;n847666 said:
that's my life too. Now I just wait till I'm dead because the two humans in this world who loved and cared for me for who I was are now dead.

Don't give up on life, Pellicle! In the position I'm in, all I don't have any wise thoughts on how to pull it through, but don't give in! As you said, you and I still have our lives, so we should not waist that gift.

pellicle;n847666 said:
but in the mean time I do my best to reflect on things I have learned and the experiences I have been given (by them) ... if you feel like you need some one to listen, please attempt to PM me (if that works now on this stupid site) and I'll try to make time on skype or some other method to listen and offer what reflection I can

Best Wishes

I will contact you, Pellicle, perhaps I will take some time of the "site", since if I speak only about this, it becomes my whole life. And right now there is no need for it to be my whole life, since the damage to the valves is not visible yet, so I might go for quite some years before needing the surgery. I do thank you for all your words of wisdom, and wish you all the best!
 
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