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.   
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

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
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

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!
 

 
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

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.”
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

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
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

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!
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

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

Re: Depression

Posted by WBCumm on Aug 18, 2019 7:26 pm

Just a quick update about my depression:  After several months of psychosocial therapy, I learned that what I'd thought had been fatigue (I've written about my chronic tiredness on this site before) was in fact depression.  I didn't recognize it initially because I've never been a depressive type, there's no history of depression in my family and hey! I was in remission.  I thought I had no reason to be sad and therefore couldn't be depressed.

But a lightbulb flickered after we identified what was actually wrong.  I was referred to a psychiatrist who tried a couple of combinations of different anti-depressants until we found what worked.  I imagine I'll be weened off them when I'm ready.

I'm a lot better now.  I feel normal.  I'm begrudging learning to accept that my body will never be the same again (I was - and continue to be - an athletic type).  But my emotions are in check, no more spontaneous crying or angry outbursts.  I can start to live almost like a regular person again.

Thanks for listening.


 

Re: Depression

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Aug 18, 2019 7:45 pm

WBCumm‍ 
Thank you for taking the time to share such a great update. I am happy to hear you are feeling better and "normal" (  I am not sure I have ever achieved whatever that is ha ).

Here's to many more of those days

Lianne
 

Re: Depression

Posted by SpeedyStill on Aug 18, 2019 8:14 pm

WBCumm‍ 
There are a lot of people out there who suffer from depression. You are not alone.
I have been on antidepressants since 1995 after I was downsized from a major food company. I was 48 back then. Depression can affect you at any age. It usually is associated with a trauma in your life like a job loss or Cancer. There are many other triggers for depression. The good thing is that they have medication to address this illness. Many people carry on with a new normal life. In my case I got a job with a medium size food company. I worked for this company for 14 years and I don't think any of the staff knew I was medicated.
Except maybe a couple of years before I was diagnosed with cancer. When I was diagnosed with Cancer a few said we thought something wasn't right with you for a while.
Thank you for your update. It will be helpful for others.
All the Best,
SpeedyStill 

Re: Depression

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 19, 2019 7:45 am

WBCumm‍ , thanks for sharing your story. You’ve possibly helped someone else who thinks they’re “just” tired all the time.

My Dad has been on anti-depression meds for years - he may have started about 17 years ago after his prostate cancer, too, actually. The doctor was just considering trying to take him off them a couple years ago, when Mom passed away suddenly. 

Another early warning sign of depression is waking up in the “wee small” hours - for me, it’s usually between 3 and 4 a.m. 

SpeedyStill‍ , It’s likely that when your colleagues said they thought “something wasn’t right” it could be their hindsight. When my marriage broke up, one of my co-workers thought I had a health issue like cancer. They might think something wasn’t right, but they aren’t always right about what the something was!
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Depression

Posted by SpeedyStill on Aug 19, 2019 6:53 pm

Cynthia Mac‍ 
Yes you are correct. In my case they said after I was diagnosed that they were glad that the Doctors found out what was wrong with me but were sorry to hear that it was Cancer. I must say too that my work mates stayed in contact with me by email though out my journey with Cancer.
Even after I retired and visited the plant the ladies I was close with would come and give me a big hug and the men of course would shake my hand. Although I was unhappy in my job assignment for the last 4 years I worked there the people were amazing to work with.
What helps with depression is being around an amazing group of people. That's why I was so happy to find such a group here in this community.
SpeedyStill 

Re: Depression

Posted by Aseeker on Aug 27, 2019 3:39 pm

This has been a wonderful thread to follow, with such honest and thoughtful sharings. I too am finding myself struggling with depression after having my fourth diagnosis last year. I had thought that I was dealing with fatigue also, but after reading through all of your posts am rethinking this. I'm still working part-time at a very physical job and found that between work days, I just stayed in bed reading or daydreaming. And figured this was due to fatigue. Then over the past week, I started looking more seriously into retiring next year. And noticed an excitement and feelings of joy that I thought were permanently gone. I'm scared to retire because I won't get a huge pension, but feeling bursts of joy again (rather than 'what's the point of it all, life's just about medical appointments?') makes me wonder if I should just take a risk and trust that my life will work out? 

Re: Depression

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 28, 2019 10:05 am

Aseeker‍ , OMG, I remember that worrying!  I spent SIX MONTHS before I retired worrying about whether to go or not. Boy was that time well wasted!

I love that you found your “glimmer of hope!” And, I encourage you to focus on that!

If you have a “financial guy” to talk to him or her about retiring. I used money from my RSPs to top up my income, and still allow my principal to stay about the same. Even if it’s only $50 a month, it can be a help. My parents reminded me of some of the places I would save: not buying lunches out every day (about 35 a week), not buying work clothes (about $300 a year, when you factored that I would still need SOME new clothes) - I even saved a little on car insurance, because of the commute being gone, and I’d need a little less gas in the tank.

There’s also a “what if” in that, if you retire, you can look for a less physical, more enjoyable PT job.

Again, I think that early retirement can give you a positive thing on which to focus, and hope you’ll keep us posted about your progress.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Depression

Posted by Aseeker on Aug 28, 2019 8:12 pm

Cynthia Mac‍  - thanks for sharing your experience. I'm actually 66 but was hoping to work until 70, to increase my pension. But this latest cancer diagnosis is making me face my mortality, and the uncertainty of life, and what do I want to be doing with the unknown amount of time left. I'm used to living with simple wants and have found all sorts of interesting ways to meet most of my needs (except for travelling) so perhaps retirement will be doable. Thanks for sharing some of the solutions you've found. That's very encouraging. I will update you.😸

Re: Depression

Posted by law on Aug 28, 2019 10:43 pm

Aseeker‍ r
I am impressed with your bravery to tackle your series of cancers with absolute realistic assessments. A span over 20 years is indeed a very long time.
I retired at 61, as I felt my life was more important and my job in graphic arts was driving me bats. I live very simply but it is worth the serenity. I feel that I was able to withstand months of agonizing mouth pain as being retired allowed me to concentrate on my radiation and 9 months of recovery.
Crunch the numbers with a financial advisor, to decide how much or how little $$$ you need to live on.
You will make the right decision.
law

Re: Depression

Posted by Aseeker on Sep 2, 2019 2:25 pm

Thank you law‍ , for your encouraging words. I too live simply and take joy from that. I really like what you said about your life being more important than the job - I think that's the conclusion I'm slowly arriving at/accepting.
And at the same time, I'm having to redefine what my life will consist of. The last surgery scar curves under the edge of my foot, so when I tried hiking for the first time since surgery last year, I couldn't go as far as I wanted, or planned, before the scar felt pretty tender. So I'm now working on substituting a more gentle, meandering kind of walking for my previous goal-driven hiking. A walking that includes halting to listen to birds, or sitting whilst sketching plants (however poorly 😆). 
So I'm thinking that a major task of recovery, or living with this disease, is being flexible in our ideas about ourselves. Who we are, what's important to us, what defines us. 
Thanks for listening,

Re: Depression

Posted by SpeedyStill on Sep 2, 2019 8:55 pm

Aseeker‍ 
law‍ 
Cynthia Mac‍ 
Depression is misunderstood by those who haven't been there. Like Cancer you can only relate if you have been there.
Now caregivers have there own understanding from a different perspective.
Depression is not seen, it is a feeling. Why do I feel this way. Why can't others see my hurt, my pain.
Cancer shows up on tests and therefore can be seen.
People with Depression are treated differently because it is included with Mental Health which scares some people.
The odd part is that it is not uncommon to have depression with a Cancer diagnosis. Other traumas to the body cause depressions.
Solders coming back from a war zones can have multiple mental health problems including depression.
We are coming to a point where we have to become more aware of the causes of depression.
There are drugs you can take to ease the pain and help you cope. But what we should be doing is addressing the depression trigers.
The worst thing we can do is hide from the truth. Whether with a man the male pride and the sensitivity you feel being hurt by someone you truly love.
We have made great strides ahead with technology however we have been lagging behind in Human Relations.
I Love reading Hitorical fiction books. Unfortunately I can see that the lessons of the past have not been heeded. 
We still in our personal relation have not changed that much since the 15th century. They may even have gotten worse when you see the marital problem of today
If we are truly going t work to understand each other, then we have to work with each other to reach that goal.
Hoping for a better understanding forthe future
SPEEDYSTILL 

Re: Depression

Posted by Brighty on Sep 2, 2019 9:37 pm

SpeedyStill‍    depression is so complicated. .. I myself have been struggling with it for years.    Half the time I didn't even  know why I was feeling in depressed so I couldn't explain it to anyone.   I know when my fiance  had cancer and I was caring for him I was completely  in despair.  I had a reason....       But I struggled  with  anxiety  and depression  even before that...so when his  diagnosis  came I completely  fell apart.   But before the whole cancer thing  I don't even really know why I was feeling  low.     There was no logical reason that I could explain  to anyone.    Sometimes  you feel so deep in a  hole   and don't even really know   why until you get therapy and they dig deep down to the bottom of things you either forgot about or buried .     I felt ashamed  of myself too, because  I felt I didn't really have a good reason to feel this way,   so I kept it mostly hidden.    Most people that saw me thought  I'm just a perky funny lady who jokes around a lot.    And most of the time that is true.  But   I was wearing a mask a lot of the time to hide my pain.      I'm doing a whole lot better these days than I was ...  and the perky funny  personality  is coming  back .     I see things  differently  now than I use to and try and not take things for granted  any more.   Even the simplest  things.   Like for example  eating.   My fiance  had esophgeal  cancer and couldn't eat at all.   Not even swallow water.     So the fact that I can eat and swallow water,  the most basic of all things. . I'm so grateful for.     Those are things I hadn't  given a second  thought to but my world is different  now.     Sorry for rambling! !!!   
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.