Log in or Register to participate in these discussions

Depression

Depression

Posted by WBCumm on Jun 12, 2019 11:07 am

My treatments ended a year ago and I'm in remission.  My energy level isn't what it used to be but I'm getting stronger, very very slowly, but it's happening.

I have no reason not to be happy but I'm suffering from depression like I never before.  It's not about 'sadness' per se.  Rather, I feel oppressed, like I'm being stalked by a persistent cancer gremlin that doesn't know I don't have the disease anymore.  I'm grieving for the person I was pre-cancer.  I'm angry I got cancer.  I'm ashamed because I might have done something to cause the cancer in the first place.  And I'm afraid of a recurrence.

I'm in therapy.  I'm doing what's suggested.   The most difficult times are when I'm alone with my thoughts. 

It feels good to just to vent here.  Have others of you experienced post-cancer depression?  How long did it last?

Re: Depression

Posted by Brighty on Jun 12, 2019 11:25 am

WBCumm‍   thank you posting and sharing your feelings.    You're feelings are comm on S I've read count less posts about after cancer depression.    I'm glad you have a therapist  you can talk to.    Do you have any hobbies  or anything you like to do that might take your mind off of stuff?  Even if it's a short distraction... anything helps and you will  feel better.    Continue  to post here and I'm sure others will chime in . you will see that you are not  alone with this.   

Re: Depression

Posted by Kims1961 on Jun 12, 2019 11:37 pm

WBCumm‍ 

Thank you for your very important post.  You are not alone in feeling this way and i'm glad you have connected with a therapist.  I've also attached some info. from the cancer society

https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-journey/recently-diagnosed/emotions-and-cancer/?region=on

You brought up a very good point about depression sneaking up when we are alone in our thoughts. Have you tried come calming breaths, yoga or mindfulness?  I've found the outdoors helpful to get me distracted from my thoughts.  A walk with my dog can help.  The trick is sometimes these thoughts can creep in, late at night, making it difficult to sleep - and not a good walking time.  I will use some relaxation techniques, mindfulness, music or if all else fails some TV/ Streaming therapy.

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-recovery-relaxation-exercises#1

In speaking to my oncologist about my own anxieties, she mentioned that it has only been a year ( for me) and that my body has undergone significant treatment and side effects.  It will take some time for our bodies to heal and even longer for our mental health. 

Let us know how you are doing.

Kim

Re: Depression

Posted by ACH2015 on Jun 13, 2019 6:21 am

WBCumm‍ 

You and I are in the same place.Perhaps I'm in a slightly deeper place, because I have suffered with chronic depression for decades.So, I'll share my perspective with you, because unfortunately you"ll "get" what I'm talking about.

This June is the first in 3 years that I'm not facing surgery or systemic treatment or "well lets figure this out - again". I should be ecstatic. I was for about an hour after getting the best results I've had in three years. Then it was back to the never ending struggle.

So I should be happy, and should be moving forward and should be getting on with my life. The New Normal - lucky guy. Sorry to disappoint folks.

I get flashes of joy or happiness and try to grasp at those fleeting moments of light and positivity. But they don't last and they become a memory before they are gone.

So, its taken years for me to understand and evolve and most importantly - accept this as part of a long and enduring process. No (known) cancer, and I "look well" so what's to be depressed about you ask???

If you haven't walked the path - you won't understand. So I'm really sorry we are currently walking the same path, and you do understand.

It's not about feeling sorry for yourself, wanting or seeking pity, being selfish or any other simple self induced explanation.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Tweaking medications, and therapy and talking about it provide a ladder to help us crawl out of the hell depression leaves us in. Some of us get to the top, and never look back at that hole we've been stuck in. Others, like me are constant companions of that ladder and lingering hell that we can never fully or truly escape.

I've discussed with my psychologist the current issues I have with depression. Part of her practice involves reading the brain waves that can be seen.  Neurofeedback (NFB), also called neurotherapy or neurobiofeedback, is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity—most commonly electroencephalography (EEG)—in an attempt to teach self-regulation of brain function.

If I could turn back time, I would. Just to have the opportunity to have my brain waves compared - pre treatment to post cancer treatment. Because I don't think or process or do anything like I did before cancer diagnosis and treatment. Not complaining  - just stating the facts. Because I am a realist and its far more important for me to understand a process than complain and wallow about the effects. We aren't whiners, or choose to live like this. We fight daily to keep moving forward, and like a cancer patient struggles to explain their trials and tribulations, outsiders of depression don't "get it" either.

I think many of us face post cancer depression. Some shake it like a cold, others develop the lingering type. It's easy to say, and not easy to do. Acceptance and living with it has been my best means of coping with depression. Its not a surrender, its saying, believing and self reinforcing realistic things like "I'm alive, this is what I can do, keep moving forward, while enjoying those sparks of light that lift us out of that dark hole we thrive in - against out will. A friend from this site that died, Belanos‍, said something that has stuck with me since he shared it with us here. "We all need to set goals in life, no matter how small". Thanks for that memory, and important reminder you left us with. My goal is to be as mentally level as I can be. It may be a constant in my life, and I've accepted that.

We are all wired differently, and a large part of that has to do with how our brain and thought process are wired. SSRI's
(Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have kept me as level as I can be in concert with regular 1 on 1 therapy, self regulation and going through the process of acceptance and understanding.

So keep talking, keep up the therapy, and keep in mind that you will achieve a level of acceptance toward being the best you can be. An achievable goal, and for me it involved letting go of who I was, because they are gone. The me of today has been through many hell's, some self induced and most not.

A lot of my life has been one battle after another. Fallout both mental and physical, healing and rebuilding - and accepting the me I am while striving to be a better me. I get some of that satisfaction from sharing here, with others that "get it" and need it. Reinforcement, understanding and acceptance is what its all about for me.

I "get it", I'm sorry you've got it - and I hope my sharing gives you some comfort and makes you feel less alone.

Keep well, as well as you can be.

Thank you for your trust and honesty.

ACH2015 - Andy.




 

Re: Depression

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jun 13, 2019 10:40 am

WBCumm‍ , I am sorry to see you suffering from post-treatment depression. As others say, it happens a lot. Depression can also run in families. Can you recall if you had a parent or grandparent who, looking back, appears to have suffered from long-term depression? What about yourself? Have you had bouts or depression in the past?

I have a relative who has been on anti-depressants for a long time. The doctor was just about to try and take him off them when his wife left him. “Now is probably not a good time,” the doctor wisely observed, so he’s still on them.

I have no reason not to be happy but I'm suffering from depression like I never before.  It's not about 'sadness' per se.  Rather, I feel oppressed, like I'm being stalked by a persistent cancer gremlin that doesn't know I don't have the disease anymore.  I'm grieving for the person I was pre-cancer.  I'm angry I got cancer.  I'm ashamed because I might have done something to cause the cancer in the first place.  And I'm afraid of a recurrence.


Your feelings are your feelings, and you are right to express them, here and with your therapist. My concern, though is the number of negative thoughts that came through in just that one paragraph.

Depression runs on both sides of my family, so I’ve been watchful of it for most of my life, and it has paid me a visit on occasion. Many years ago when I felt myself “slipping,” I started to examine the language I was using. Turns out I was using a lot of double negatives (no reason not to, or no problem, or no worries) and I was using “low energy language” - words that some would consider dramatic. (I waant this to be over, I can’t keep going like this, what can I do.) Then I read a book that talked about how language choices can impact our mental health, and I began to make some conscious changes. 

Instead of saying, “no problem” I would say, “my pleasure.” Instead of saying, “I have no reason not to be happy” about something, I started to say “I have every reason to be happy”, and instead of saying “I can’t” (keep going or do this) I started to say, “I can” (do x, y or z, and see what the outcome is). I even used to be “afraid” or “scared” of “falling into” depression, but I changed the language to be “watchful of it.” It’s a very subtle shift, but it can really help the process and I encourage you to give it a try. It’s really hard to do when you’re in a depression, but it is worth the work.

I wish you all the best.

PS: I love the suggestions about taking up a hobby and getting out in nature. Trees have helped me a lot. There’s a story there!
 

 

Re: Depression

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jun 13, 2019 1:36 pm

WBCumm‍ 

I think you described this perfectly, at least as far as my experience went. I couldn't figure out why I was not deliriously happy being on the other side of it. I found a book called Picking up the Pieces - Moving Forward after Surviving Cancer - by Sherri Magee and Kathy Scalzo. If anything it just helped me realize I was "normal" ( well as normal as I am ever going to be ha )
I will say, as cliche as it sounds, it does get better. I am 8 years post treatment and while I definitely dip my toes in those waters ( fear of recurrence, anger etc ) on occasion,  I don't spend too much time there.

You have been given some great insight from our members. Continue to reach out here, we are listening

Lianne

Re: Depression

Posted by Birdwoman on Jun 15, 2019 10:33 am

Hi WBCumm‍  I am sorry to hear that you are having such a rough time but I sympathize as I am still walking this rocky road. I too mourn the person I used to be and get so frustrated when I break into a sweat trying to do simple things. It is so hard to accept that we will not go back to who we were. I use hobbies and podcasts to distract myself and often hearing how much other people are suffering, whether from war or illness, helps me put things in perspective at least for a time. I also tell myself that it is easy to be nice and happy and positive when life is flowing smoothly, but the real test comes when things get hard. Then our true mettle shows and when we are so challenged by life, we have to reach into our deepest self and look for comfort. 

I once read that we have to be our own mother and father, that we have to be good to ourselves and cherish ourselves, especially those of us that live alone and have lots of time for thinking. What Cynthia Mac‍ says is very true, how we talk to ourselves is very important. Just changing the language from a negative to a positive can make a difference. We are in charge of our thoughts and what we choose to think is what creates our reality. However, I understand, as Andy said, that a chemical imbalance makes this a much harder goal to achieve. 

The only other thing I can think of is try something new. That always gets me out of a rut. I plan a little road trip to a place I haven't been and set off in my car with my camera and go of for an adventure. We should use what time we have to enjoy ourselves. My cousin just passed at 62 with brain cancer. So many people get cancer now. It is very scary, but I will not focus on that. I am here today and I will squeeze as much out of this day as I can!  Try to have some fun! Sending you hugs and a
😊 

Re: Depression

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jun 15, 2019 1:16 pm

Birdwoman‍ , the last time I had a bout of depression, someone recommended Louise L. Hay’s books to me. Your post reminded me of my favourite quote by her: “A thought is just a thought, and a thought can be changed.”

Re: Depression

Posted by law on Jun 16, 2019 2:35 pm

Hello WBCumm‍ ,
Welcome to our Community!!
I feel for your situation, as I suffered from the horrid black hole of Cancer recovery depression, too. I was so down I could not always get out of bed to attend a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) group workshop to learn how to accept myself with NO judgement, and then try to think of alternatives which bring me happiness and hope. Simple (yet difficult) steps--such as getting out of bed, washing my face, getting some water from the kitchen. It was a struggle. There were times I stayed home with a good book---staying put in bed and reading is a new habit for me. I read books about cancer, recovery nightmares, or just any items I want to read without having any merit whatsoever, junk mail, magazines, children's books written be a friend. Talk about no judgement of my own small accomplishments!
I had tongue cancer, leaving my mouth with blisters, gagging, and almost no ability to eat or swallow due to the pain and/ or not really caring about nutrition or weight loss of 40 lbs.
I found oncology counsellors at the BC Cancer Centre, who specialize in our kind of depression. They continue to help me accept the slow recovery and the even slower climb out of the black hole....it is a roller caster ride for sure.
It has been 9 months since i finished radiation, and I am just beginning to feel human. I even have begun returning phone calls and emails. The light at the end of the tough tunnel was hooking up with this Cancer Connection website....
You are on the right track, and JamesT‍  has a great response for you as well.
I live alone and it is often scary! Take advantage of your resources in your online community and cancer related books and pamphlets.
You are fighting a very tough fight. You are already winning, as you have reached out to write about yourself.
law

Re: Depression

Posted by Kims1961 on Jun 16, 2019 10:22 pm

law‍ Very well said - thank you for your post - you have helped some many with it.  Kim

Re: Depression

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jun 17, 2019 8:33 am

law‍ , I’m so glad to hear that you’re making the climb. May both your grip and your footholds stay strong!

Re: Depression

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jun 17, 2019 12:39 pm

law‍ 

Thank you so much for sharing and as Kims1961‍ said, it will be helpful to others who are reading this thread

Continue to move forward

Lianne

Re: Depression

Posted by law on Jun 17, 2019 2:31 pm

Hi Lianne and everyone reading this reply,
I heartily endorse the wonderful book Lianne mentioned, Picking Up The Pieces, it is one of the more unique looks at recovery and the stories of survivors. The authors direct the poignant subjects in the book toward the real nuts and bolts of recovery and how we deal with it individually, yet collectively. Thank you Lianne.
Another useful book I read is for oral/ and mouth cancer specifically, Meeting the Challenges of Oral and Head and Neck Cancer - A Guide for Survivors and Caregivers, by Nancy E. Leupold and James J. Sciubba. 
We are all survivors and so strong.
Keep on keepin' on!
law