Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Losing and Regaining the Plot

with 5 comments



I apologise to followers of this site for the delay in new material, but I was not overly concerned as I thought my last subject matter was more than relevant to carry us through. I have had a bit of a rough time emotionally lately as you will see and at one point thought I would not relay this information on to this web page. However Greg has whispered in my ear to remind me, that together we promised to supply on this web page personal information about both the good and the bad, the warts and all stuff. So I have decided to include my latest fight with the devil and lay it all out here in public.

I could have decided not to reveal this personal issue and kept it private but I have decided to be open and frank with my readers in the hope that others that read this article may receive some benefit from my story. It is a truism that you are never alone in life in both good times and bad times. Here it is for those who may benefit: The following personal account of my losing the plot and regaining some semblance of normality. Given more time I would have liked to present this information  as a much more profound account, but that was not to be. So here it is in a raw emotional article of fact.

Recently I spent six weeks in Cairns visiting my daughter and her family. This was made possible because my wife had agreed to house sit her sisters property which is also in Cairns while her sister was away on a trip. The visit went well but was full of stress for a number of reasons which are much too complicated for me to go into in this article. Besides the stress, it was a very successful visit none the less and culminated in a sailing trip for myself and my daughter, her family, an old army friend and my eldest grandson. We visited the reef and Fitzroy Island and had a ball.

As I was out of my normal routine, medication for my newly acquired diabetes diagnoses went out the window as did most of my normal fitness regime along with diet and alcohol consumption. However I returned home in what I thought, was a happy frame of mind looking forward to getting back into my normal regime. I had no idea that within two days my world was about to implode.

The following information is still as weird for me today as I write this, as you are about to read. Within two days of our return I had a minor disagreement with my wife and something snapped inside my head. I stormed off with a packed suitcase, left my mobile phone and medication at home and took off in the middle of the night. I departed on an insane five-hour drive and headed out to my little sapphire claim west of Emerald.

The stuff that was going through my head during the drive convinced me, that It was better if I just up and died immediately, right then and there to relieve my wife and family of all the rotten stuff that may be ahead of me. I felt I could spare them the horrible ordeal that I felt lay in the future. I felt pretty old, passed my used by date, worthless, useless and hopeless. Many times during that manic nights drive, I seriously contemplated suicide by swerving off the road and driving into the nearest tree. However at the last moment I lacked the courage to carry it through. I spent the next week at the camp re-evaluating my position and trying to find some sense in it all. I remained off my medications and refused to eat with the intention of hopefully bringing on a heart attack ( I now cringe at this mental gymnastic of mine.)

My son eventually turned up at the camp in a worried state at the direction of his worried mother and we were able to have a sane conversation. The result of all this is, that I returned home to Mackay in a stunned state and contacted the Queensland Cancer Council. They have a counselling service available free for cancer patients and their families. I decided to contacted them as I did not want to go to my GP for fear of just being handed more medication. The Cancer Council offered me the option of an independant view and as such they have been remarkable.

Thinking back on my emotional state at the time, the main problem for me was trying to understand what led me to behaving and thinking in this way. I still cannot work it out and perhaps I never will. I thought I had my demons under control, but on that night I completely lost the plot and it is so hard for me to understand why. My only straw I can grasp at to make sense of it all, is that it may have been a result of all the stress leading up to the happy Cairns visit, my not using the diabetes medication and ignoring dietary and alcohol consumption limits may have led to an imbalance of my brain chemistry.

At the time of writing this article I still feel embarrassed and at a complete loss as to how this state of affairs slipped through my guard. I have always been, and hope to continue being an upbeat type of person. Interestingly the Queensland Cancer Council Counsellor has assured me that my emotional state at the time is not an unusual event. Cancer patients who can appear to be coping well with their diagnoses for years and years and also for some who have been cured may still fall into a black hole at some later time in their lives.

There is an answer and help available

There is an answer and help available

For those that may be experiencing similar problems, it might be well worth while re-reading my last sentence, that it is not unusual for cancer patients either in remission or cured to crash into depression many years after the event. The trick is to realise what seems to be real is only a state of mind that blocks out the sun and is false. There is help out there to provide support to those who are in need. My hope in relating these events is to show others that these thoughts can blindside us for a time, but there is better way forward.

Lee aka Popeye


5 Responses

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  1. Pop, Very hard to read but I think you may have just helped alot of people in taking the extremely courageous step of sharing this moment of weakness. I wish I had’ve been there for you…you know I am always just a phone call away….there is always help out there, and I am glad you found it. This story may just stay in the back of patients minds,lay dormant, until one day they may be emotionally pushed to the same brink when they will reflect on your open honesty in this story and follow the same path to receive help. I am so very proud of you Pop. I love you so much.

    And hey, I did make it back up to the summit of Fitzroy Island after our epic trek on your 66th birthday…..took a new pen and entered our little momento…….’the wind’s in our hair, and there’s water in our shoes, it’s been a lovely cruise’…..keep cruisin Pop xxoo


    13 October 2013 at 7:13 am

    • Thanks Wanni for your kind remarks and understanding. Just goes to show that us oldies are human from time to time. Even though I have exposed this event in a public area I am satisfied I have done the right thing.
      I like the thought that our quote is sitting on top of Fitzroy and I would like to add to it from an old fellas point of view. “Still can manage a smile………..Just takes a while………………Just takes a while.

      Lee Gallagher

      13 October 2013 at 9:47 am

  2. Lee I am shattered. I had no idea of the demons you were struggling with. ( I should have been of course). I am glad you have made this public because it should make all people sit up and take notice of what troubles can do to the brain. Your description of your drive resonated with me and I am glad that your inner kernel of commonsense and survival instinct held sway despite your desperation. To all who arrive at that state of desperation, please remember that your brain can play these nasty tricks on you, making you emotional and believing all sorts of irrational things. Important decisions should only ever be made when you are cool and calm. Hang in there both of you.

    Liz Hoese

    13 October 2013 at 5:41 pm

  3. Dear Lee After heart surgery bri suffered from depression.Finally he felt good and asked his doctor if he should therefore reduce his medication. The doc said while your alive keep taking the pills!!!!
    Love you Didi.

    Diane Shanahan

    14 October 2013 at 7:55 am

    • Liz and Didi: Thank you so much for taking the time to add your support in these comments. I appreciate that we all share common family ties and bonds and I am proud to have you on board. Things are OK with me at the moment and I am talking to the Queensland Cancer Council people who have been outstanding. It caught me by complete surprise and I find it hard to fathom how it evolved, but it did and perhaps I will never know the reasons. As for my going public I just hope some other male people can see that there is no shame in asking for help when it is needed. “When it is all said and done…………….its all said and done” And as my hero popeye used to say. “I yam what I yam and thats all that I yam”
      There is already some good come out of this for me as I no longer feel the need to appear bullet proof to everyone. Large hugs to everyone and good wishes.

      Lee Gallagher

      14 October 2013 at 10:27 pm

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