I Have Cushing’s, but Cushing’s Doesn’t Have Me
I’d love to say that I’m always strong, but the truth is I’m not. Positivity is a look I wear well, but everyone has bad hair days. In my weaker moments, I try to remind myself that the beauty of being human is that we have imperfections, but sometimes the criticism committee that resides in my mind takes over.
My journey with Cushing’s disease has led to anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, emotional sensitivity, cognitive impairments, sleep issues, body image issues, and more. It’s hard to believe that I can function while dealing with all of this, but I do.
It’s important to listen to what my body and mind are telling me. If I feel overwhelmed by a stressful situation, I try to minimize my involvement in it, since my body is so sensitive to stress. But if I can’t avoid the situation, I’ve learned to practice coping techniques, including meditation, concentrated breathing, stargazing, cloud watching, cooking, and watching funny shows and movies.
Finding things that increase my dopamine and serotonin levels is helpful, since cortisol is essentially playing tug of war with these neurotransmitters. When cortisol levels are high, as is the case in Cushing’s disease, levels of these neurotransmitters tend to be dragged through the mud. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can deplete dopamine and serotonin, causing me to feel less motivated and like a rain cloud is constantly hovering over me.
To my understanding, intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. I haven’t been diagnosed with the disorder, but I experience symptoms that are consistent with it, including intrusive thoughts, obsessive habits, and the fear that if I don’t do something a certain way, something bad will happen. I haven’t seen any research that suggests an association between Cushing’s and OCD, but I am curious about it. Leave a comment below if you’re a Cushing’s patient with similar experiences!
Sometimes I feel as though my life will never be the same as it was before my diagnosis and transsphenoidal tumor resection in 2020. I continuously search for happiness, but it’s been a while since I’ve experienced that feeling. I’m starting to think that happiness feels different now. I feel different now. I recognize that the person I was prior to Cushing’s disease has not vanished entirely; there are old pieces of myself embedded in this new self that I’m creating.
One of my favorite quotes, which often is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, is, “Change is the only constant in life.” I battle with that thought daily because I know it’s true, but coping with change is still hard for me. Change stresses me out because it brings many unknowns. But I am learning to flow like water, adapting to whatever life throws my way.
I say that I have Cushing’s, but Cushing’s doesn’t have me, because at the end of the day, these were the cards that were dealt to me, but I decide how I’ll play them.
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