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I've become so negative, pessimistic since the cancer (Help)

tkrumroy's picture
tkrumroy
Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010

OK Guys, this is my first post on this website. I just joined because I have been struggling as of lately. I feel like I am not the same me that I have known for 27 years.

First, I am 27 years old, and was diagnosed with testicular cancer last March. The cancer spread to the lymphnodes in my abdomen, which required two very large surgeries (RPLND). I was in the hospital for two months over last summer. Since then, i have not gained back my weight, and have been struggling with almost every ailment under the sun (or so it seems).

Here is my issue, I can not seem to stop dwelling on the past. Not only that, but I feel like I am not over it. The surgeons now want to remove my gallbladder after finding gallstones, but the surgery will be so complicated after the last two previous ones that I don't want to do it.

To keep things a little bit shorter, Ever since last summer i keep expecting the worst. I used to be a random, spur of the moment kind of guy who takes chances at everything. But recently, I have become cautious and hesistant to experience any type of joy. I find myself much more happy and "safe" at my house, even though I may really enjoy myself when we go to a friends house.

I have even noticed that when my wife is happy and comes to me with good news, I am responding with "are you sure" or some other negative pessimistic response. I HATE IT. I dont even know how my wife is still with me. i wouldnt want to be with someone this miserable. I find myself not smiling or laughing much anymore. All in all, i feel like the hospital has drained the happiness from my life.

Recently, I have been trying to read a lot of Zen books (as i am not christian for a multitude of reasons) trying to focus on the positives in my life.

AND THIS IS THE KICKER. I remember being released from the hospital and finding joy in EVERY aspect of life. I remember feeling the sun on my skin and thinking "i love life". I remember driving home and seeing birds flying out of trees and smiling, seeing couples walking on the road holding hands, and all of this made me smile and feel warm inside.

but recently i seem to find only the negative in everything around me. rather than seeing the happy birds singing on the road, im focusing on the homeless guy asking for money and it breaks my heart. or im yelling at the bad driver in front of me for going to slow. what am i in a hurry for anyways? im only on my way to work

Anyways, if anyone feels like the cancer has blocked your ability to feel goodness, happiness, or love please tell me what you have done or are doing to make this better. i need to escape this world of pitty and sorrow but i dont know how.

-Taylor

zinniemay's picture
zinniemay
Posts: 534
Joined: Mar 2009

Taylor, I don't know if I can explain this to you, but your body has been threw so much. It takes allot to heal from any surgery. And you add cancer to the mix. You realize this is life. I have had 36 surgeries, so I can relate to that part of your problem. When your body goes threw that, it is whipped. Then your mind starts wondering at the what if's or can I. It is common for there to be some fear. I also know that the netagive feeling are something that is from all you have gone threw.
Slowly you will find the laughter .The hope is still there , I am sure or you would not have wondered about it. You just have to look for it. Take a second look at your wife when she does or says something when she is happy. Maybe you will see a twinkle in her eyes. Go talk to someone that matters in your life. Joy is always there in some small thing . You just have to remember where you put it.I wish I could show you that there is joy for all of us some where and some place in our life. We just have to remember it.
"negative pessimistic response" that comes from your inner feeling. I call it a Estel Geddy moment (Golden Girls).
I even get joy from people who don't even know me but answer my post, wired I know! But I think you find joy in the most unexpected places and times. You forgot how good Ice cream is? Evey time you think about cancer try to replace the though with something else. Not easy but you can do it. Go to the humor page and read some of the wonderiful things people have wrote, let yourself excape it . Even if only for a moment, maybe the next time it will be two then three. and so on.

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

I was negative, bitter, and pessimistic about the present situation and my prospects for the future, in fact, I was clinically depressed. That was nearly 30 years ago. Last Thursday, I celebrated my 59th birthday! In the years since the conclusion of my treatment protocol, my marriage went to hell, I had trouble finding a job, I lost both my parents to long-term illnesses and my brother to suicide.

However, I eventually found a new job, advocated for the employment rights of cancer patients before the House Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities, traveled to several foreign countries, started a new career, earned a second graduate degree, and am finding contentment just being single.

"Cancer", like the Holocaust, 9/11, or Hurricane Katrina , is nothing to be happy about. I consider those who see cancer as a gift to be functionally insane. However, our lives need not be ruled by cancer, which can serve as a pivotal point in making changes to live more personally rewarding lives.

Love, Courage, and Peace of Mind, Bro!

Rick

ruthelizabeth
Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

When you're in your twenties and face your first major, unexpected diagnosis, it's a terrific shock. Up to then, you have sort of taken your health for granted. I wonder if somewhere inside, there's a little voice saying, don't trust the joy; you trusted your good health and look what happened.

This is not a good analogy, but .... My stepdaughter tried to break into the house after her father died because I took his car back. She had beaten me up before and outweighed me by about two hundred pounds. I reported her to the police and asked for a restraining order. It's been about four months and she hasn't come back. I am feeling cautiously optimistic that she won't try to attack me again ... but I am still locking doors everywhere and being very careful. For me, in another way, the past has made a change in my life...

BUT for both of us there are still good things in life. YOu sound as if you have a wonderful wife. There are still moments to find laughter and pleasure in. It may take time, but if you work at it, life will give you back your trust and optimism. I still occasionally hesitate when I unlock the garage door, but I do it. It's okay for you to hesitate before smiling, but try to do it. Whether you believe in God or not, He has good things waiting for you. Zen is a religion that accepts things as they are and that's not a bad attitude, but sometimes you need to remember that it's important to look for things that can give you joy. What little thing can you do to make your wife smile? Maybe if you do that, it will make you smile, too.

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1638
Joined: Aug 2009

Welcome to the board. I am sorry that cancer has brought you here but glad you found us. I am not a cancer survivor but was caregiver to my husband. He was a survivor for 6 years before losing his battle to colon cancer. I often wondered how he kept his spirits up. He went through many chemos, radiation, and surgeries knowing that he was probably just buying time. We often felt like we were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. His solution was interesting and it might work for you. He said he woke up every morning and made a choice. He could decide to have a good day or a bad day. Most days he chose to have a good day. It didn't always work, but most of the time it did. Toward the end, he often said his decision was easy. He said "it's a good day. I woke up." Maybe you just need to make a conscious effort to think positive. I'm not saying that will be easy. Cancer is scary. It changes your life forever. But you are here. You can still make wonderful memories with your wife. You might want to start a thankful journal. Each day take the time to write down all the things you are thankful for. Your wife, your friends, the birds, the sun, a favorite food. Every time you have a negative thought, acknowledge it. Then force yourself to think positive. You can do it. Best wishes and take care, Fay

tkrumroy's picture
tkrumroy
Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2010

Thank you guys so much. You have no idea how much this helps just reading other peoples encouragement. I am living in a new city now so it is just my wife and I with no friends. It's difficult to find encouragement without a strong support network.

Thank you all. This morning you have given me that glimmer of a smile and happiness that I am so searching for. My wife and I are going to the beach this weekend to try to get away from it all, so I will make the best out of it.

And the idea for the thankful journal is an awesome idea. Thank you. It will help me try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. I simply need to change my way of thinking to how I was before this battle.

I do feel like i'm scared to trust my health from here on out. I went almost 10 years without visiting the doctor once, untill this all happened. I always loved enjoying my health and how I never got sick. But things are different now and I still need to realize that it could be much much worse.

Thank you for hearing me out. Thank you. Sometimes I feel like a burden on my family and wife by bringing up issues/fears about my cancer, but it feels amazing to know you all are here for me.

Thank You for my moment of joy this morning :)

Taylor

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1638
Joined: Aug 2009

Have a good weekend. Fay

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

Teratoma Class of '82

Rick

Pennymac02's picture
Pennymac02
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2010

Some one told me once that there are no "no-no" feelings. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. But I think identifying and writing about them, even talking about them adnauseum, really helps. There would be something wrong with you, IMHO, if you DIDN'T have this range of emotions seeing as how you've been through so much. Taking some time to get away is a big step in the right direction. Progress, not perfection. I hope you have a good weekend, and come home with a fresh outlook and a renewed sense of optimism and gratitude!

Dotsmom
Posts: 11
Joined: Jun 2010

My husband has been dealing with oral cancer since(diagnosed in)February. I cannot even imagine what you or your wife must be going through right now, but try to get some counseling try your insurance or a local mental health clinic. You obviously need and want to feel better emotionally. I wish you both peace and a return to happiness.

zinniemay's picture
zinniemay
Posts: 534
Joined: Mar 2009

Jan, what we need is more people that tell it just like you did. The truth is we all will die. But let a doctor say it and it is over. I want a dammit doll sounds like we all need one.
As a caregiver (Not sure that is such a great word) I love my husband I would do anything to help him. When he is sad I am sad, when he crys I cry. These are part of what marriage is about we share.
But I think no one has said what needed to be said as well as you did.
Thank you
Jennie

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1104
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi Taylor,

First off, you are not alone in how you are thinking and bottomline, as I see it, what you describe in your posting are all part of the many emotional sides of dealing with the cancer journey.

In the beginning many are just glad to have made it through treatments and all the anguish that goes with all of that and so savour the simple things as you mentioned you did. As time goes on and we perhaps don't heal as fast as we thought we might or other new symptoms arise it weighs on us, we didn't expect all of that. There is an erroneous message out there for many suvivors that one is diagnosed then treated then recovers and boom they are back to their old selves but as many of us know that just simply doesn't work that way for many. Depending on the type of cancer, treatment forms and a ton of other personal indications healing is varied of course and some get off with hardly a scratch but many of us suffer these surprising after effects and that simply SUCKS. Pardon the French. lol.

Of course you will go through feelings of negativity and pessimism, we have lost our innocence. I can barely remember BEFORE cancer and what that was like but I do know that I took my health for granted back then - we all did to some extent. Now with this diagnosis we are faced with our own mortality and that brings us down now and again especially when we are weakened by some infection or new symptom yada yada.

As far as you finding yourself thinking about the past alot, that too is very normal for survivors. Our minds want to soothe us and so we are sent back to happier simpler times in our lives that make us smile and are happier in comparison to the battle we face with cancer. They were innocent times and we, in many ways, have lost that innocence once we have the diagnosis. Our minds take us back, from time to time, actually that happens fairly often on the journey for most of us, I just came out of a long flashback of the 'gentler days' in my life as well. Thank heavans we have those memories eh? Everything for a reason. I believe that is in part why you are flashing back to your past.

Key thing to me anywho is to be easy on yourself. It's perfectly normal to feel negative and pessimistic at times but the secret is to not let yourself get stuck in these phases of grief for our loss of good health for very long. If we do find ourselves living in negativity and pessimism for too long and there is no joy in our lives over an extended period we could well be depressed and that is one thing that can be corrected through medication and counselling and behaviour modification. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counsellor now and then, cancer is tough stuff (like I need to tell you that) and we need help now and again so give yourself a break and don't beat yourself up when you feel down and out of energy and optimism. Know you aren't alone, can always come here and talk it through and you will be just fine.

There are studies underway looking into survivors who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from moments during their journey with cancer so you can see by that issue some face, dealing with all of the emotions and situations relating to our cancers is not for the faint of heart but the good news is that there is help out there for this aspect of the disease. It's up to you to monitor yourself though and remember - we are all here for you too.

All the best. Blessings, Bluerose

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1104
Joined: Jul 2009

You have been through a huge trauma. You have gone from knowing your life and nothing but and suddenly you are thrust into someone elses life it seems, with hospitals and medications and feeling awful and worry and realizing that life isn't endless - for you as well. You have had your own mortality shoved in your face and you wonder why you are a little different today? I am here to tell you, as a 25 year survivor, that what you are feeling is all perfectly normal - you are going through all the stages of grief and loss - of your health and situation. You will pass through these stages eventually but for now you just have to work through them.

The trick to all of this is not to get stuck in any one stage for too long though. For instance if you find yourself angry all the time or too impatient you may need to seek out a good grief counsellor to help you through that stage and onto the next so that you can get back to as close to the life you knew as possible. You are changed but not necessarily in a bad way, lots of positives to be learned from all of this like your trip back from hospital when you saw how precious and good life is. Cause it is. Hold onto that picture when you feel low. In fact ....

Go to Google Images by printing a phrase like 'spiritual journey down a country road on a sunny day' or 'happy sunny day picture of a country road' or anything like that, in the search engine, and print off that picture and frame it and keep it on your desk or wherever you are most often. It will serve as a reminder to you.

Of course there is the bad element in life but what you have been given can serve to allow you to see that in a different, healthier manner as well. You may wind up doing more volunteer work or speaking at meetings on your survivorship - these life changing events we go through can help to encourage others who are following in their own cancer journies to soldier ahead too, as you did.

So in conclusion my advice to you is to make up that picture of the good side of life to encourage you and if you simply find yourself unhappy too long or angry too long or dwelling in the past and missing the 'now' because of it then a good counsellor can help you with that. Also check with your family doctor soon as to whether any of your symptoms point to depression, depression can be fixed and you don't need that on top of everything else.

All the best, you can do it. I promise.

Blessings,

Bluerose

LeeandShirley's picture
LeeandShirley
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

Have you ever thought that you may be supressing anger at what you have had to endure this past year. This anger might be blocking any other feelings you may have and everything comes out as negative energy. The zen readings you have been doing may be a help, but only if you get to the root of the problem. Get mad! But not in a destructive way. In a positive way. I think anger therapy is a great way to work out this problem, and sometimes just a few sessions can bring it out to the surface, to be dealt with. I did scream therapy, once, for the pain and anger I felt over the death of my mom and brother within 18 months of another. It was very cathartic and healing and opened me up to live a positive life again. Just thinkin'''''

bellaFFL
Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2011

Taylor,

I am going through a similar experience. I was diagnosed in June with stage 4, inoperable metastatic cancer, and all summer, I have been completely depressed and devastated and pessimistic. I feel like a shadow of my former self, and even just watching my children play together sends me into a major depression. I think it is honestly completely normal for people such as ourselves that are fighting, or have fought, such an incredible beast as cancer.

I literally sometimes just sit and make lists of all the things I'm thankful/happy for and try to close my eyes and really honestly think about what my life would be like these things. I always find that the more I think about how precious and amazing some parts of my life are, the more I find myself rejuvenated and loving inside. I find that also gives me a renewed sense of fight and determination to stay alive to enjoy those things.

I don't really know what to say to make you feel better, but I do believe that time heals all wounds and anger, and I do believe that you and your wife will be happy in the future.

My thoughts are with you during this difficult time, and I hope that you find some solace and comfort from this board.

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