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Depression

Hawkeye22's picture
Hawkeye22
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2010

I am a 38 year old male cancer survivor of 5 years. Other than my family, doctors, and select friends I have not discussed this with many people, and never thought I would post my story on a discussion board. I thought I was potraying to others that I was the same person, with the same feelings, and am living my life, that was until today. My mother called me and said she was worried that I was going to commit suicide. Before I continue here is a little background:

I was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer that I was not suppossed to beat (they gave me 6 months - two years). The day before my first chemo treatment my doctor told me that they had to run some more tests to confirm my treatment. The tests came back inconclusive but had markers for both carcinogenic cancer and non-hodgkins lymphoma. A week later my doctor changed his mind and my treatment with it. I recieved 8 treatments of a regimen called C.H.O.P. (to treat the non-hodgkins lymphoma). After the first treatment my tumor reduced in size 80% and my doctor told me how well the treatment worked and told me that I would no longer require surgery. He wasn't sure what type of cancer I had but he gave me an 85% chance of survival. After the chemo I was set up with a hefty dose of radiation that lasted every weekday for a month.

After my treatment I felt extremely fortunate to have survived. I went about my life for the next 10 months on cloud nine knowing I beat the odds (and lost 100 pounds of unwanted weight) and wanted to live life to the fullest. I decided to do something I always wanted to do and quit my job and went travelling. For the first 6 months I was having the time of my life meeting new people, having new experiences and all in all just loving it. That's when it started. Every once in a while I would feel like my world was crashing in on me. I felt like I was going to get my cancer again and this was all going to end.

It started out just when I was going to sleep. My mind would race and I could not help but think I was going to die. It lead to a few sleepless nights that I just chaulked up as "normal". After all I had cancer and like most cancer patients spent a lot of time on the internet looking up side effects and that seemed common. When I got back home it started to get worse. Not only was I thinking about my cancer returning but now I was thinking that if I was going to get cancer again why invest in a new career, friends or long term goals. Was it worth it? Why involve anyone else in my problems? I don't matter. Nobody cares. I just put that off as "normal" too. I started a new carreer that I don't like and kept to myself. I still had bad nights but tried not to think about it.

That has been going on for nearly 3 years now. I have been single ever since my diagnosis and don't see that changing. I avoid my friends and family because I don't want to burden them with my problems. I thought that I was doing a good job of coping until today when my mother called worried that I was going to kill myself. Now let's be clear, that has never crossed my mind. Not once. For the most part I still feel the same about myself. I am a good person with an outgoing personality, have a lot of friends (none that I tell everything to though), and still enjoy life and all it has to offer.

The problem I am having is that after 5 years, and 10 follow up visits with my doctor I am falling apart at the seems. Physically I am fine. No sign of cancer, I am still a healthy 6'3" 200 pound man (some would even say good looking), but inside I am struggling to move on. I don't sleep very well because I worry about everthing, I can't seem to make any plans for tomorrow (let alone the future), I stay home a lot watching tv and movies and lay in bed a lot and have started to feel sorry for myslef (even though I am one of the lucky ones). I find myself in a world of contridictions. I can't stand to be alone but don't want anyone around. I want a new career but don't do anything about it. I want a relationship but won't let anybody to get close. I want to talk about it but don't want anyones opinion.

It's funny, I just read back what I had wrote and almost deleted it. I sound like a nut job. No wonder my mom is worried. I would be too if it were someone close to me. I don't feel I need to see a shrink as I feel they are full of **** and can't help me but hope to here your thoughts on what I am doing wrong and how I can get past this and move on with my life.

Cheers.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4683
Joined: May 2005

Welcome to .... the Forum.
There are many great things about this site, one of them is anonymity. So you can post whatever you want (within the guidelines of the site) and however you feel without anyone knowing who you are.

At the end of your post, which by the way sounds pretty normal for someone who's gone through an illness like cancer, you write "I don't feel I need to see a shrink as I feel they are full of **** and can't help me but hope to here your thoughts on what I am doing wrong and how I can get past this and move on with my life.".

My input is this:
I've been living with stage IV colon cancer for 6 3/4 years. I doubt that I would have made it this far and have a relatively consistently good attitude about life in general and my prognosis specifically.

You are not doing anything wrong in my opinion, but I think it's always a good idea to keep all options open so your ruling out talking with a "shrink" is not something that will help you. That's just my opinion as I said earlier.

Good shrinks, like good oncologists and other good professionals, can be hard to find. What helps one person may not help you. I did go to 2 other ones before I found the one that I have been with for a while. she has helped me so much. If nothing else she works as a sounding board. They way I've always found them to be helpful is by them getting us to look at ourselves and we find the answers.

Another thing that I use and that I had many preconceived negative opinion on is an anti-depressant. I do not know which choice I made has made the biggest difference but I certainly do not feel "doped up" at all and it helps me feel more normal. I found that cancer changed my life forever. I think that's normal, how could it not change one's life? Face it, we all die sooner or later. We just have had a brush with death so it seems more real now. While I can understand how you feel about looking over your shoulder for the cancer coming back, what is stopping a car accident or some other thing from killing you?

I really think that all of what you are feeling is normal (yeah...so what?) but the question is what are YOU going to do about it to change it and continue with your life. If you are a religious person, maybe talking to clergy might help you. I'm not so I don't. There are many excellent therapists out there who deal with people like us who have gone through life changing events like we have gone through and they can offer insight for us. To have been through all of what we have and not expect it to be a hurdle to get over is a little unrealistic I think. Especially for those of us who were diagnosed with stage IV cancers. That often has a grim prognosis and when we beat it (which many of us are doing now thanks to treatments that are available) we are sort of like..."now what?".

You also wrote "how I can get past this and move on with my life.". I don't know if one ever really gets past cancer and is like they were pre-cancer. You didn't say that but it was the feeling I got when I read your post. I have found that cancer gave me a series of what I call New Normals that I've had to adjust to and am still adjusting to them.

I'm glad you didn't delete what you wrote, it took guts to post it. You are more normal than you probably are feeling right now. I hope that you consider some of what I suggested. Like cancer, there is no one size fits all for curing cancer and there is no one size fits all with getting into life after cancer.
All the best to you.
phil

Hawkeye22's picture
Hawkeye22
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2010

phillieg, Thanks for the post. I did not really expect a response to this let alone 12 in a couple of days. Thank you all for that. I will consider a "shrink" as all the posts recommend them, but it might take me a while to get myself to wrap my head around it.

I understand where your comment comes from when you say I could be hit by a bus, get in a car accident, fall down an elevator shaft, ect, tomorrow. It could happen to us all for sure. The problem I have is that those thing have never happened to me before and the chance of them happining is relatively low. However, I have had cancer and due to the treatment we are all at risk of getting cancer again at some point and going through it again will never leave my mind.

I have heard from many people that their "normals" have changed and I am OK with that. I guess a problem that I have is that I don't want to bring others down. Before cancer I was an easy-going guy people wanted to be around. I was never home and found myself out with friends all the time. I loved it and had a great life. When I got cancer though for the most part, and I'm sure others experienced this as well, my friends kind of left me alone. They did not know haw to handle the situation and distanced themselves from me and my illness. In fact during my 9 months of treatment I had a total of 4 visits from my friends (other than my roommate who also avoided me). I don't blame them because it's no picnic seeing someone go through this but it still was a starting point for my reclussion.

After my cancer was over all anyone else saw was me looking way healthier than I was before my cancer. They treated me the same but unfortunately I had changed my "normal". Now I find that I don't want to interfere with anyone else's lives and bring them down with my incessive insecurities. I am an outspoken individual and say what is on my mind and after five years cancer is still on my mind, so that's what I talk about even when I try not to. I don't let people in my life because I don't want to put them through this. I think that is why my relationships are strained.

I was talking to a close high school friend today and she was using the "you could get hit by a bus tomorrow" example and I felt that she did not hear what I was saying. I don't really look to get a new job or start a new relationship because I feel it is selfish and unfair. Why put someone else through this? They don't deserve it. I guess this is just something I will just have to learn to accept and get over.

Cheers.

tommybear
Posts: 112
Joined: Oct 2009

I have been going through something similiar lately. I catch myself isolating and hiding from life in general. Like you had said, sometimes I think it is not fair to allow others close to me - that they would just have to deal with my sadness and/or anything that comes of my brain tumor...

See, I was diagnosed with a grade II Astrocytoma tumor August 2009 - had surgery and radiation. Have been waiting for results of the radiation for almost a year and have had some problems since. Nothing major - most people think I am "cured", but that doesn't really happen. I know that some people are fortunate in having their tumors removed completely and responding really well and quickly to radiation, but I haven't had that luck. I have read so much about brain tumors. Even though my doctor seems pleased that my tumor hasn't grown (only 25% was removed during surgery), I still have it and it can change its personality at any time or can stay the same for another 15 years. Why have a relationship with anyone if they will probably have only a few years with me? Why would someone want to go through with that?

I have really had an issue with "living in the moment". I do have one close friend who is always reminding me to do that. But then, why worry about things that should be done in my life to improve my future? I often do try to focus on today, but it is difficult sometimes. The only aspect of my life that I am able to enjoy that way right now is time with my boys. Being a single mom is tough, but being able to share my love with them is one aspect of my life that is makes it all worthwhile.

So, no, I don't have any intelligent answers for you. I think that seeing a counselor is probably a good idea. I do take antidepressants, and would hate to see how I am without them at this point. Just wanted to let you know that I understand what you are going through and as everyone has said - cancer seems to change our "normal" - some positive changes and other changes that are challenging.

Take care...

Michele S.

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

What you are feeling is totally normal and I definitely share in your thoughts many times. I have to agree with Phil on the validity of a "shrink". Their value is the fact that they are removed from your experience and thus are an excellent way to bounce off those thoughts and feelings that we are afraid to discuss with our loved ones because we are afraid of how they may interpret them. They aren't emotionally invested in us, and are trained to get to the root of our problems. Look for one who specifically works with cancer patients, we present with our own specific problems! I had a very tough time with a HIPEC procedure done in May of 2009 that had a lot of infections and I almost didn't make it through. This was 5 years into my battle, my third recurrence. Prior to this, I had always bounced back and been able to return to the battle full force. However, I wasn't bouncing back so well this time around. I tried to ignore the fallout and hope that it would go away. I didn't speak of how hard a time I was having to my family/friends because I was afraid of making things worse for them; after all, they had gone through the same tough battle, but they were left with the fear of losing me those many times. My daughter helped me to locate the counselor I wound up going to and he was a GODSEND! He was the perfect fit for me and was able to help me tremendously! His father had fought colon cancer, he lost his mother to lung cancer (as did I) and he was very much into integrative alternative treatment methods. He really heard what I had to say and was able to make me aware of things that I wasn't aware of, things that were unnecessarily making my battle harder. Going to see him was probably the best decision I made this year! I've not had to use anti-depressants, but certainly would be open to their use if need be. I hope you will rethink your view on "shrinks" and consider seeing a counselor to help you through this difficult time. You've heard of war vets suffering from PTSD, and it's becoming common knowledge that we are suffering from the same problem; just a different kind of battle. Take care and stay strong!
mary

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2735
Joined: Jul 2006

I agree with the other comments and can't add anything other then I hope you find help. I've not had to use anti-depressants or shrinks but I know they are there if I should need help in the future. Good luck and may you find peace.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7948
Joined: Aug 2005

I still, 6 years post-dx of my first cancer, have struggles with this...

I find talking to someone really helps. I have a wonderful therapist who specializes in cancer patients, who I call occasionally when things get too real. Also, I truly feel that for we cancer warriors, our lives have shifted: Our 'someday' is right now...

Hugs, Kathi

New Flower
Posts: 4131
Joined: Aug 2009

you did ypu fitst step by writing your story here. Please stay connected.

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1319
Joined: Nov 2001

You are not a nut,you are a perfectly reasonable person dealing with totally unreasonable circunstances. I was 47 when I was dx with st3c colon ca. Surgery was followed by 48 weekly sessions of chemo. Every year that passes I find another long term side effect of the cancer ,the surgery,the chemo,the tests(fleet prep),and ageing ,I have just turned 60. Once I used to fear a recurrence,now I fear survival. Life is strange,Ron.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7948
Joined: Aug 2005

"now I fear survival".

I must admit, after watching my mom spiral (sp?) down in health and MENTAL health in the past 3 months, I'm a bit nervous about getting to her age, having had all the 'chemo brain' that I experienced....

I DO NOT want to end up like my mom...but I'm not quite sure how not to...the only thing I AM doing is NOT smoking...and my mom does...recent studies suggest that it will actually make dementia worse....sigh....

Hugs, Kathi

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2735
Joined: Jul 2006

You are not your mother. Lots of things could alter your path.

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1319
Joined: Nov 2001

I asked some of my doctors about chemo and my failing health. My rheumatologist was the most objective. He suggested that I would have eventually had a lot of the problems that I now have ,but he also believes that ca and related treatments has hastened the onset of my problems. What most concerns me is the spreading neuropathy,severe arthritis and vertigo compounded by the fact that I live alone. I have already had a few falls and I don't fancy spending my last days on the bathroom floor, Ron.

carkris's picture
carkris
Posts: 4529
Joined: Aug 2009

I have a different perspective. I think your situation is a bit crippling. It is normal to be afraid and anxious. but you are withdrawing from life. I wonder if you got happy after not being happy and became afraid of losing this. Sometimes I feel like pushing people away
or being happy because the loss of that would be enormous. Sometimes I try to take a leap of faith and just go for it. dont waste today worrying about tomorrow. (easier said then done) and none of us can be perfect all of the time. You have been given the gift of a good prognosis. Go with it. You also may be suffering from some PTSD. I would think about getting some counseling and perhaps a antidepressant. Trauma can change brain chemistry. and being on an antidepressant even for a short period can correct this.

johnnybegood's picture
johnnybegood
Posts: 1122
Joined: Oct 2008

i was watching animal planet the show called fatal attraction.when a doctor on there suggested many people turn to their animals and dont want to go out in public.this hit home for me.didnt even know what PTSD was.i feel this has happend to me.i am more comfortable around my dogs and horses then when i am in public i feel even though i have been NED for 2 yrs i feel like people are looking at me crazy because i had cancer.i wish i could get help but i cant afford it,i cant even afford to get my meds for this neuropathy.when does this vicious cycle end i just dont know how to get started on starting my life over.DEPPRESION HURTS...Godbless....johnnybegood

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2735
Joined: Jul 2006

Some pharmaceutical companies sell their medications at a reduced price to people who qualify. You might check on this to see if it is available. There may also be programs to help with payment. You could talk to your doctor about receiving help.

Or check out this website. Seems to have lots of info but I haven't tried it and don't know anyone who has. This info was provided by my health insurance website.

http://www.needymeds.com/

Hawkeye22's picture
Hawkeye22
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2010

Thanks everyone. As a noob I responded to the first post but didn't realize it would not show up at the bottom. I now know better.

New Flower, you are right it was a big first step and it did feel good to make the post. I have kept my feelings inside for too long and its good to have a forrum like this for me to vent.

Cheers.

HeartofSoul's picture
HeartofSoul
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

i know a member here in CSN named "Bluerose", you can feel free to contact her. She is a cancer survivor of HNL and a long time therapist and is very open to helping others, She often is on Emotional or and Caregiver boards but she has posted on other boards to on CSN.

Do a search member on CSN front page and put her member name in

http://csn.cancer.org/ and in upper right hand corner, click Search members

medi_2's picture
medi_2
Posts: 511
Joined: Aug 2009

I have been NED for 2 years but until abou4 months ago I would have these spells of anxiety. What if cancer came back? Would I be alone all my life? Would my daughter be okay? blahblahblah ;). I was a mess at times. My 2 male doctors who considered me darn lucky said it would pass. It didn't. I won't go into my history (you can read about it on my 'about me' page) I've lived through fires and wrecks and heartbreak and still was optimistic. If those things hadn't happened to me, how would I truley embrace happiness? Then the cancer came. Holey moley what a mess. It just made me so darn mad, I beat it. But the after effects weren't so nice. I am an artist and I could barely get anything done (I have a fulltime suit job) but come home, make dinner and go to sleep. Then my doctor went out of town ;). I just happened to have an appt. with his stand-in, a nice lady doctor who completely understood what I was going through. She said it was a type of PTSD, which I translate into 'waiting for the other shoe to drop' haha. She prescribed an Anti--Anxiety drug, not an anti depressant. It is a fairly new drug and she told me it would just even me out. It sure has. I can't even hardly tell I am on it. It just takes the edge off and keeps me from jumping out of my shoes when a door slams. I have completed 6 paintings in the last 3 months. I have figured my daughter will have to solve her own problems (she is 21 after all). This is all I needed to get me back on the road. NOW I am a force to reckon with! haha. Sometimes we all need a little help. ;)
Nice to meet you!
Medi

Christmas Girl's picture
Christmas Girl
Posts: 3661
Joined: Apr 2009

As others have posted, we understand your thoughts & feelings.

Please do consider "talk therapy" with a professional. Like any other doctor, dentist, etc. - don't "settle" for the 1st one you meet. Find someone you feel comfortable with. And if they recommend medications - try those, too. Both could be temporary - not forever. There are, at this very moment, many medical oncology professionals lobbying for this to become part of "standard" cancer treatment. And, beginning at diagnosis.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder mentioned within another post. Yes, finding our "New Normal"... "Life After/With Cancer"... whatever one calls it... is very much akin to PTSD. We can suffer, while appearing on the outside to be fully functioning.

Relationships. All need to be carefully evaluated. My own group of friends (family is a little different) is almost totally different now than before cancer. A much smaller group. But - much, much better relationships. I want what I call "two-way traffic" in my friendships - not "one-way"... Because within all the "one-way" (former) friendships - I was the "giver" & never, ever on the receiving end.

You are not "doing anything wrong"! You didn't choose cancer - it chose you (unfortunately).

I'm currently 7+ years from Breast Cancer dianosis, 6+ years since completion of all "invasive" treatment (still taking oral anti-BC meds). It took me a very long time - several years, actually - to recognize that I was "grieving"/"mourning" for my "old self" and my "old life" (i.e., pre-cancer). The experience changes all of us. Acceptance of my "new self" and my "new life" was a true turning point for me.

Your survivorship is an amazing story! Current medical technology and care saved your life, healed your body. I sincerely hope you will now find the way to heal your mind, heart & soul.

With very best wishes for you, and...

Kind regards, Susan

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I could not agree more! I have been 'lobbying' for psychological/pyschiatric assistance to be a part of every cancer team since I was first diagnosed. It seemed to me, in the midst of what was otherwise an AWESOME team of doctors, nutritionists, sociologists, nurses, and other specialists, that this was the one enormous and evident hole in my treatment, and one that should have been filled, not AFTER surgery, but AT DIAGNOSIS.

The postulation by you and others about PTSD makes perfect sense to me: When we are diagnosed, it is as if we are being handed a death sentence. Now, that may not necessarily be so, but most of us do not know much about cancer beyond, perhaps, the names of friends and family members who HAVE died of cancer, so that is typically among our first thoughts.

Thoughts about treatments (and all of the dreadful things we might have heard about surgery and especially radiation and chemotherapy -- much of which is true :) -- do not help the situation. We are scared, our families are scared, and there is really no one to turn to. As a rule.

To me, this 'death sentence' IS likely to bring on PTSD in some folks, particularly those pre-disposed to depression. When you add the effects of surgery, and of course, the proven effects of rads and chemo, you have an emotional cocktail specially blended for the emotional impact described by the original poster.

No, sir, you are not 'nuts' as others have astutely and compassionately pointed out. You are among the noticeable percentage of us who are affected by our diagnosis, by our treatment, and even by our survival, with elements of anxiety, panic, depression, and perhaps PTSD. You are not abnormal and you are not alone.

You have been given some great advice here. I join others in suggesting you seek therapy. As someone once told me, the best thing about a therapist is that you can say what you really feel AND NOT BE JUDGED. True. Combine that with anti-anxiety, anti-depressant medicines...COMBINE THEM!...and you will eventually be amazed by the results.

Finally, think about this: You have been through so much already. Why waste that mired in the depths of depression? Why let the cancer have more than it has already taken? It is time to enjoy your life and those around you, and if you require therapy and meds to do that, so be it. I was too macho for therapy, too. I was embarassed in the waiting room, too. I was man enough to get over it. And I am a better man because of it.

Take care,

Joe

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1542
Joined: Mar 2010

Depression is a reasonable response - whatever semblance of control we thought we had over our lives has been undermined. However, you can chose not to live with depression.

As others have said, there are excellent therapists out there. Mine reminds me of all that I've been through, and how well I've coped. I have reason to be angry, fearful, and depressed, but he helps me to see what I've accomplished, and how to continue living, moving forward. Meds have occasionally been part of treatment. As of now, I'm on no meds. Having someone to talk to who understands is sufficient for me. However, we understand that I may need meds again in the future - who knows what is in store for me. I think that one thing that has worked for me is that I've been very open about my cancer. I'm not looking for sympathy, but this is who I am now; my cancer experience has formed me. Some people can't deal, but most seem to be more comfortable with my being straightforward. They are not as fearful to bring things up, to ask questions, and to learn.

My therapist does not tolerate BS - he pushes me to be honest with him and myself about my feelings and dealings with cancer as well as the rest of my life. I can talk with him about how my family has pushed the cancer to the background, as they no longer want to deal with it, because it is in the past (hopefully forever, tho at the moment, only 2 1/2 years out.) I trust him and know that I can say anything to him, no matter how ridiculous or "childish" it may appear. Emotions, feelings are what they are, and are not "required to be mature because we are adults."

Seek out support - a 3rd party is often better than those directly involved with you. Don't plan to live out your life alone and depressed. Having beaten cancer, you now need to work on living again.

It's not easy, but life awaits you.

Alice

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

First off, you aren't nuts. I am a 23 year NHL survivor who went through CHOP too and a bone marrow transplant at recurrance and have been considered cured ever since - 21 years cured. Lots of leftover health issues from treatments but that's another story.

You know there are alot of physical issues that can happen to a person that simply can not be cured but today cancer isn't necessarily one of them. Lots of people are being cured all the time and even doctors are using the word 'cured' as they did for me and others on this board. One other thing that can be cured is depression. If taken seriously there is no doubt that you can get help for depression so why live with it? That's my take on depression. For medication you will have to see a shrink or your GP but for generally hashing things out my best support came from a psychologist.

As survivors I think I can safely say that most of us have had depression visit us now and again, sometimes we get through it on our own but other times we need help. I have personally seen both shrinks and psychologists and I have found much greater insight and hands on healing through psychology. Since they deal with matters that affect our lives daily and don't get bogged down in having to remember what color our booties were before we get to the next subject. They deal with the NOW. My psychologist who I visit when I need to also specializes in PTSD and that is something you need to look into in case you are experiencing that. You could also be suffering from panic attacks too, somethings you say sound almost like a panic attack but you need to be diagnosed by a professional of course.

Bottomline is that depression can be handled and when lifted you will begin to see things alot more clearly and will feel much better. Without a good diagnosis you could sink further and further as it was starting to sound in a couple of spots in your posting.

If I were you I would first have a talk with my family doctor about depression/panic attacks and possible PTSD and ask for a referral to either a shrink or psychologist. The GP can prescribe meds if he thinks you are clinically depressed for may send you to a shrink for that diagnosis and medical treatment. As you probably know a psychologist can't write prescriptions but you could go to one for therapy after you are on meds if you get the depression or anxiety diagnosis.

Either way I would suggest you seek help in this regard sooner rather than later. You are experiencing normal reactions but it sounds like you are stuck in one of the stages of grief over the loss of your health and you need a professional to help you out of it and onto the next stage.

Welcome to the board and I too am glad you did not delete your posting. We on this board understand what you have gone through as we have gone through similar stages and issues. Take charge and see to your mental health so that you can get on with your life. It can be handled.

Keep us posted.

Blessings,
Bluerose

winsomebulldog's picture
winsomebulldog
Posts: 114
Joined: Jul 2010

I've battled depression for my entire adult life. It began after my mother died unexpectedly when I was 17. There have been a LOT of other things in my life that didn't help the situation, mostly the loss of several other very close family members, 2 to different cancers. Then, last June, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

I have been on an anti-depressant for a few years now and I can honestly say it's made a difference. I'm not a fan of medications in general, but I'll take what I need to and this was something I needed. It makes battling the anxiety and dark thoughts and emotions much, much easier.

Also, as others have said, I have a therapist. I have seen 2 different ones, but have been with this one for a few years, now. I see her only when I need to, though in the beginning it was very regular. I went to her at first to help with the depression that set in after losing my husband's mom (and my best friend) to brain cancer in 2007. It's interesting that what she helped me see was so simple and yet something I had never considered. This is what a good therapist can do. Sometimes we get so caught up in dealing with the depression itself that we cannot see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I just started seeing her again after my diagnosis, just so she can help me stay on top of things.

Believe me, I know how you feel. I lived with my depression for a very long time before I finally found a doctor I trusted and liked enough to talk to about it. She was the one who suggested therapy and medication. I had learned to cope pretty well by the time I got to this point and admitted to myself and my therapist that I felt like it was something I should be able to deal with myself. But the fact is, that just isn't always possible or advisable. All the things you mention are things I felt and experienced as well. The self-isolation, the inability to shut my brain off so I could sleep, all of it. The medication alone made a lot of that better. It isn't gone for me. I still have times when I have to fight that dark little voice in my head that pushes me to see/think/feel/fear the worst. But it's easier for me to shut it out, now. And when it gets too loud, I have learned to talk about it. Believe me, that's one of the best things about having a therapist. Even if you don't want to share all you feel with friends or family (which I completely understand) a therapist is paid and trained to listen. You can share openly without having to worry about "bringing them down" or getting pat answers and suggestions.

I hope you find the relief you need and deserve. You've fought a life-altering battle and there's no going back to what/who you were before. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, of course. I hear many of the survivors here talk about the "new normal" they live after that diagnosis and all the treatment. My biggest fear, I guess, is that it'll come back some day. Do any of us not have that worry? Basically, it's just part of my life now, part of all our lives. We have to live with it and we all deserve to live lives without the shadow of anxiety and/or depression. You beat cancer. You can certainly beat depression as well. Just like the cancer, though, you might need the help of medical professionals. Prescription anti-depressants have come a long way, just like chemo and radiation. And shrinks/therapists have as well. They aren't all spouting Freud any longer and blaming everything on your mother. LOL Just give it a try. And like others have said, shop around if you need to until you find the right drug and/or the right therapist. They certainly aren't all the same and what works for one might not do a thing for you. You're the patient. Be your own advocate and find what works.

God bless you as you continue your journey.

Jennifer

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