For one, I am so happy to have found this discussion forum. It is so comforting to have this site and all of you. I am 11 months post operation for a 4cm AN. Although finding out about the brain tumor was very scary, I had no idea how hard this road was going to be. Being that I have total facial paralysis on my right side, I feel and look so much different from what I was and most other people. Being unable to smile or talk in public without a passerby looking at me strangely always is very common and it hurts my spirit. It's so unfair to have your smile taken from you.... to spread joy around. But, it is what it is, and I am now looking into different facial graft options.
Around Christmas last year, I was feeling really bad and sad because I had to see my in-laws for the first time since my surgery. I know they love me, but I didn't want to be forced to take a picture and it all made me nervous. I contacted my medical practitioner and let her know that I was depressed and would like to try a medication for depression.... I mean, what else could it be? So she gave me prozac 10ml, which helped I guess, but I still was having my issues in public. Finally, I went to a psychiatrist who talked with me and really helped me out. He said "I don't see signs of you being depressed, it is just that you aren't able to fit in with general public like you used to. With all of the weird looks you get, it is very common to develop social anxiety, which is completely normal with what you are dealing with." Anyway, I got off the prozac and didn't notice a difference. What has helped me though, has been that I figured out why I am so uncomfortable in public. I can process the looks differently knowing that they just don't understand. I am also much easier on myself, and others are too, when I state why I am uncomfortable going here or there. It is a really hard thing to deal with being paralyzed on half of your face. So when I need a break, or am uncomfortable, I leave the situation and go somewhere comfortable for a little while. Loved ones should understand if you explain it to them.
The reason I am stating the "social anxiety" subject, is that I would like to help others that are going through, or have gone through similar issues, to cope a little easier. Oh, and I was able to find a "brain tumor survivor" hat on-line. It's really cute and it really helps me in public. When people give me a look and then look at my hat, they seem to understand and then go about there business. It gives a little power back to me, which is a help. So, I hope that I have comforted someone today and/or helped them to understand it all a little bit better.. I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share your feelings. Jill