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Being depressed and angry when I'm supposed to be happy

MyHopen413
Posts: 38
Joined: Mar 2012

I would think that since I passed my first three month check-up NED, that I would be a happy camper all the time. But not so. Now I'm mad I got cancer and although I appreciate my family and friends asking me how I'm feeling all the time, I would really rather not have had cancer to begin with and have to talk about it all the time. That is terribly pitiful of me I realize and I'm sorry. So, finally I said something to somebody that was closer to the truth about how I am feeling. She works at the oncologist clinic I went to and she talked to one of the chemo nurses who called me and strongly suggested I take a very low dose anti-depressant for a little while. So I guess I will, it beats being mad all the time.
Am I weird or something. I completed a year of treatment and went straight back to work and work more than full time a lot of days, commute 60+ miles a day, have a teenager and my mother is in the nursing home dying. I think maybe I'm not completely over all the treatment I had and am trying to do too much.
I'm sorry I'm a pain. I can't talk to anybody about this, especially my family because they just don't get that when treatment is over, the cancer isn't really over. Does that make sense?
I think about many of you during the day and wish you the very best outcome.
Diane

Phoebesnow
Posts: 447
Joined: Apr 2011

I also took the meds a year after the TREATMENT. Because like you, things began to build up. You have to take time for yourself. The meds will help you settle down. I stopped them after three months, they helped me get thru a rough spot. You are not alone.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 743
Joined: May 2011

I have been completing all the tests required of me by Sloan Kettering and they are a lot of tests, trips into the city, etc. They are coming out great, but instead of just being grateful, I am also wanting a puppy! I have a mother in hospice in SC so it may be about her also. But I am in love with a little Havanese. We are working out the wherewithalls and I think it will happen, but yesterday, I thought it was off and I cried a lot. She hopefully will pass all the tests and be my companion as a hospice volunteer here in NY and I can show her to my mother also. They are supposed to be great therapy dogs. "There but for the grace of God". I was volunteering before I was diagnosed.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2849
Joined: Jan 2010

I can't speak for anyone else, but I am almost 4 years out of treatment and I continue to have times when I am really angry about having had cancer. I think it's normal to feel this way, as were robbed of a big chunk of time out of our lives during treatment and all the time since that we spend waiting for doctor's appts, scans and tests. Along with all of that goes the continuing thoughts of possible recurrence and day-to-day dealing with lingering side effects. Yes, I am very happy to be coming up on my 4-year post-treatment anniversary, but I refuse to use the term cancer-free, because it still has its grip on me emotionally. I don't think I'll ever be completely free of it. I also have an 87-year old mother who is in assisted living and dealing with dementia. Knowing that someday my own mother may not know who I am is quite depressing.

Your treatment ended much more recently than mine did and I think you will need to give yourself some time. I am not angry and depressed 24/7, just sometimes when my thoughts go in the wrong direction. I don't know how I feel about taking the anti-depressants, but if you think they may help you, I say give them a try.

I think you'll always find people who cannot understand that just because treatment is over, cancer is not over. It really takes going through it yourself to understand. Don't let those peoples' ignorance make things worse for you. I wish you all the best and am very happy that you are NED. May you always be.

torrance
Posts: 118
Joined: Jan 2012

Diane,

My PCP, not my oncologist told me that the majority of cancer patients suffer from some form of depression. It didn't mean you were necessarily sad, or angry or anything, it was that our systems become depressed due to the treatments and chemo and stress. Our body reaches a point that it can not normally deal with things the way we used to. Our bodies take longer to heal than we think. Anti-depressants can help you through this tough time. She also told me to expect to be on them for up to a year. As you know each of our journeys is different, I know they have helped me. One "strange" side effect has been that I am on creative overdrive which helps with mood for sure. I have been having fun giving away my creations, even gave one to the barista at the Starbucks drive thru, just because she saw it on the seat next to me and liked it. So nice to put some fun and giving back into my days. I lost my Mom eight months ago due to an instantaneous onset of non-treatable leukemia. Less then one month from onset to her passing. My thoughts are with you all as you struggle through this period.

Much Love,
Joanne

RoseC's picture
RoseC
Posts: 502
Joined: Jun 2011

After I got back to work from treatment (and a long hospital stay due to a rare side effect) I was kind of euphoric. It lasted quite a long time, about 2 years or so. But I had time to digest what had happened and deal with it as best I could - with a lot of support. Now most days are great, some not so great.

You did a lot really quickly Diane. Treatment, then right back to work, a long commute (long commutes alone can take the stuffing outta ya), a sick mom, and a teenager. That's a lot on your plate. No wonder you get depressed sometimes. You must get tired too? That's a lot of things/people pulling at you.

Antidepressants really helped me through the worst of it. They didn't make me loopy or anything, they just brightened up the world a bit. Gave me a sense of serenity and calmness.

kirby77
Posts: 48
Joined: Jul 2012

Weird or something, the answer is something "depressed" and rightfully so! It's great that you have now recognized it and admitted it. Right now I am experiencing depression. It's lonely and dark.
Putting the message out there, means you can get the help you need. Today, when I was at my medical oncologist I discussed it with him and he made a referral for me to see a psychiatrist. I felt better just being validated, depression is something most providers and friends feel helpless to confront.

I just wanted to let you know you are not alone, that your feelings are real. Talking about and sharing your narrative will help. Medication is also very helpful, I am open to it. I will be discussing it with my provider.

I am wondering how many of you on this discussion board would be interested in joining the chat at a designated time where could meet and discuss our related issues in real time? I am going to put this suggestion on the board up and see what happens.

MyHopen413
Posts: 38
Joined: Mar 2012

A big thanks and hugs to all of you. I'm glad that I had the courage to say something to all of you. I think I just needed some validation that it's OK to not always be OK all the time.
Diane

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2849
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm glad you are feeling better about all of this and hope you won't put such pressure on yourself to be "up" 24/7/365 after what you've been through. Just keep in mind that things will get better with time. Right now, just feel the emotions without letting them take over your life and you'll be fine. Hugs!

torrance
Posts: 118
Joined: Jan 2012

So many people have such a negative idea of depression and see it as some sort of weakness, either having or needing help or the inability to cope. My dr helped put it in perspective by explaining that it isn't that you are sad or unable to cope. It is that your body has been strong, carrying you through this ordeal, and anything else that was going on and that at some point you suffer a loss or depletion of serotonin which would normal help you to cope normally. It made sense to me having gone through treatment after several years of traumatic events, having cancer, a son in a horrible motorcycle accident, an ill daughter for three years with no diagnosis, the loss of my best friend to cancer, the loss of an aunt to cancer, an IRS audit, the loss of my mother and I could go on and on. This explanation really helped me understand what was happening to me and why. It wasn't that I was sad. I am a very strong person, the pillar of strength for my entire family, the go to person, etc etc. I was very concerned that for some reason I could NOT cope or function at what was my normal. I am taking Zoloft, a very low dose and I can tell a difference in my coping skills. They do not make me feel giddy or euphoric or anything else. Whatever they do, they are working for me. I still have bouts of sadness/weepiness, but I am able to get through those better. I am also seeing a counselor that is helping me acknowledge and experience those feelings that I wasn't letting myself feel. It has been a real growing experience for me. My doc anticipates the need for the meds to be in the one year range. As far as I know I do not have any side effects. Keep in mind that if you take something, you may need to try several different ones to find the right one. I got lucky in that the first one I tried worked.

YOU ARE NORMAL!

Joanne

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

Don't be too hard on yourself. I went to a very dark place about a month after treatment and then again after my first clean report. I've had blue periods since, but I do think it's part of the healing and recovery process. I still get upset from time to time because I'm just "different" than I was before treatment ~ from sex to mental clarity. It took me a good year to discover my hormones are just a cluster**** due to the immediate menopause and that probably has a lot to do with it. I'm a year and a half out of treatment, on bio-identical hormones and I continue to see progress in my mind-frame each month. I try to eat super healthy and make sure I work up at least a 20 minute good sweat every day, which helps.

Blessings to you, Diane. You will be ok.

Cheyenne's picture
Cheyenne
Posts: 72
Joined: Apr 2012

Depression is described as "anger turned inwards". Sometimes it is good and necessary to be angry. I usually give myself permission to be depressed but not permission to stay there. I try to find a way to direct that anger outwards after my "time is up" by working out or finding another energy outlet.

Dsquared
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi MyHopen413.
It seems to me that feeling angry is more than reasonable considering what you are experiencing. It is my experience that unresolved anger leads to depression! It is far better to express your feelings. This is a safe place to say anything, express your frustration, fears and dreams. I have found keeping a journal helpful. It is good to write down the how I adapt, change, grow with these challenges, then when the next one comes around I know I can deal with it with a little help from my friends (God being the best one) I can get through. Keep us posted.

Dog Girl
Posts: 100
Joined: Sep 2010

Diane,

Let me pile on top of all the other comments. My depression hit approximately 12-18 months after my treatment finished. Intellectually I knew that I should be happy; I came through cancer and was (and continue to be) NED. However I just put the wheel to the grindstone if you will during tx and didn't even let myself feel anything. Literally I did not even cry for the first time until months after tx stopped and then I was like, dang, by butt was just kicked; literally and figuratively! I did a pretty good imitation of Scarlett O'Hara in that I would think (and deal) with "it" tomorrow and of course that "tomorrow" never came.

I did have reason for some of what I would call situational depression (my elderly mother was in ill health), but basically I just felt like I was walking under water in a pool of molasses. I withdrew from my friends (who had been so wonderful and supportive), took no pleasure in anything, and it basically just took everything I had to just work and that started slipping before I shouted No Mas! One of my sister's best friends is a psychologist and she had asked my sister if I was struggling with depression as it was very common wiht cancer patients and survivors. (They both live out of state, so it was not like they knew what was going on with me on a daily basis although my sister had a clue.) Basically my sister came to visit (she was here a lot during and right after tx) and she and local friends did an "intervention" on me and it was like a life ring in a stormy ocean.

My PCP doctor said basically the same thing as already stated. My body had been through a "war" and my seratonin was shot. I was on generic Zoloft for a little over a year and I am now pretty much back to my old self. In fact after a few weeks of being on meds, my closest friends took me out for a "Welcome back Suzanne" lunch as they said the old me was finally showing up again and they had missed me. Heck, I had missed me too. This is all to say that what you are feeling is very commonplace and just as you were able to deal with the cancer and conquer it, you can do the same with this as well. I also agree that regular excercise and a relationship with the higher power of your choice can be helpful too. Good luck and do feel free to talk to us, because we have walked this path before you and someone will undoubtably give you some advice that will help you in what ever you may encounter.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 743
Joined: May 2011

I learned something new again here. I don't want any more expensive medications but I feel like I work awfully hard at staying upbeat. Thanks for your post. Sometimes, In spite of my husband saying "not to worry about it", I hate thinking about taking another prescription since some of the asthma medications and the Lyrica are very pricey as it is. The thought of taking an anti-depressant is depressing (lol) but not as much so if it is generic. Thanks.

All the best,
Sandy

greene
Posts: 11
Joined: Sep 2012

Diane,

you are not weird. Cancer blows. Even after you survive it. And the questions, everyone means well, and better to have folks care than not, but after a while its like geez, leave me alone, lets get on with it. I get it, but it is unique for everyone.
I am an older guy and "Old School" as I am continually reminded :), but even I went to something called Grief Counseling.
I had soem SERIOUS rage issues. I have had cancer 3x, am now disabled, folks are getting old going in to nursing home, COBRA is used up and we're broke, can't provide for my wife, yadda, yadda, yadda. When you look at it from a certain perspective, it looks really bad. I was definitely a guy who saw the glass as half empty because the half that was missing was stolen, and the half that was left was poisoned :). No, seriously.
But, the counseling REALLY helped, even after you get good news it is still something horrible that has happened to you.
Pastor told me not to wrry about things you can't control, that worry is interest paid on problems you don't have. I like that, it's true. You can be happy again. Talk to someone, they have groups for this sort of thing as well and it is free at some places. My wife went too as it is hard on the spouse.
There's a book called "The Grief Recovery Handbook" that was really good.
Hope this helps, God bless.

Tom

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2849
Joined: Jan 2010

Thank you for posting. You've said some very helpful things.

cap630
Posts: 148
Joined: Jul 2011

Depression is in my life as well. I take a low dose of anti-depressant too. Take want ever you have to to get through the day. Don't be to hard on yourself - this time in our lives sucks. The sandwich generation for sure - parents need us as well as our children. We want to just take care of ourselves, but that isn't happening. Some days are great - others I wake up and think - I have/had cancer and just feel numb. All my Livestrong cancer survior group members feel the same no matter what type of cancer they have had.
Wishing you peace ~Carol

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

I did not expect to feel depressed after sailing through treatment for 2 separate cancers in one year. I thought life would go on and I would continue to find joy in each new day that I was granted. About one year post treatment (a few months ago), it hit me like a lead balloon. I started isolating myself for fear of a diarreah accident and soon lost interest in almost everything. To add insult to injury, I lost my job. I just wasn't up to the long hours after a year of treatments and major surgery. My finances went to hell in a handbasket very quickly. My doctor suggested medications, but I have decided against taking any more junk into my body. I have recently joined a support group for women cancer survivors and I started going to the gym every day. It was hard to get started, but I am finding my depression is lifting. I think what has reeally helped is my change of diet. I bought Dr. Furhamn's book "Super Immunity". Essentially, i have switched to a plant based diet and have eliminated sugar and processed foods. I feel so much better already. I am still looking for work and so have days that I feel discouraged and fearful of losing my home. I think the key is to boost the body's immune system as much as possible. I learned in my support group that some ptsd is totally predictable.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2849
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry for all that you have been through. I think depression is a very common side effect of cancer treatment, unfortunately. You mentioned Dr. Furhman. I just saw him on the Dr. Oz show the other day. I think he makes a lot of sense. I feel better if I limit my sugar intake and I rarely eat processed foods. The sugar thing is hard for me to break though. I'm happy to hear that you are finding exercise helpful. I am a big believer in exercise. It releases stress, is good for the heart and lungs, and definitely improves one's mood. I wish you all the best with your exercise and diet plans.

lizdeli's picture
lizdeli
Posts: 521
Joined: Jul 2009

I too felt depressed and scared. I masked it by throughing myself full force into work about 3 weeks after I finsihed treatment. I was on ativan and at times I still need to take it. I will feel intense anxiety for no reason what so ever, it just pops up now and then. The people in my life that care about me and love me do their best to be supportive, but generally the response is "everything is going to be okay". I want it to all be okay but only we understand the lingering iota of fear that stays with us. Some days more than others. After 3 years I can still go througha couple of days not thinking about it. Then some days I think it about it a lot. No pattern, it just happens. So what you are feeling is quite expected. In time it does get better.You've gone through a lot and it takes time to settle in with our new normal.
Wishing you continued healing and strength.
Liz

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

It really helps for me to talk to other cancer warriors. When I finished treatment for this cancer, they did more specialized scan and found another cancer that had spread to the lymph glands. There is no known effective treatment for this cancer....unless they can successfully cut it out. I had major surgery and I do hope they got it all, but they just have no way of knowing. So, for some reason, my body makes cancer. I am fully aware that every single day is a gift , and I hate wasting time, but have spent too many days last month staring out the window, not wanting people to see me not feeling well.

Since I started exercising daily, I feel better. It is weird because I sort of disappeared for almost 2 years now. My treatments and surgery were out of state. I did not want anyone but family and very close friends to know. Now I am starting to reappear socially and people can see that I am different, but they don't know why. I see the look of shock on their faces. Maybe I will start looking better soon.

We are blessed. Thank you for being here. It really helps. My plan was just to move on, brush myself off, and pretend nothing happened to me. That just doesn't work.

Mary

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

It really helps for me to talk to other cancer warriors. When I finished treatment for this cancer, they did more specialized scan and found another cancer that had spread to the lymph glands. There is no known effective treatment for this cancer....unless they can successfully cut it out. I had major surgery and I do hope they got it all, but they just have no way of knowing. So, for some reason, my body makes cancer. I am fully aware that every single day is a gift , and I hate wasting time, but have spent too many days last month staring out the window, not wanting people to see me not feeling well.

Since I started exercising daily, I feel better. It is weird because I sort of disappeared for almost 2 years now. My treatments and surgery were out of state. I did not want anyone but family and very close friends to know. Now I am starting to reappear socially and people can see that I am different, but they don't know why. I see the look of shock on their faces. Maybe I will start looking better soon.

We are blessed. Thank you for being here. It really helps. My plan was just to move on, brush myself off, and pretend nothing happened to me. That just doesn't work.

Mary

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 519
Joined: Apr 2009

hey, i am still angry and scared . and it has been 3 years. not one day goes by that when i have my 2 to 3bm's i am looking to see if bleeding . or have to go deal with pain afterwards. it is constantly (almost) on my mind. we have all been thru torture and agony. you are not alone. hugs sephie

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

It really helps for me to talk to other cancer warriors. When I finished treatment for this cancer, they did more specialized scan and found another cancer that had spread to the lymph glands. There is no known effective treatment for this cancer....unless they can successfully cut it out. I had major surgery and I do hope they got it all, but they just have no way of knowing. So, for some reason, my body makes cancer. I am fully aware that every single day is a gift , and I hate wasting time, but have spent too many days last month staring out the window, not wanting people to see me not feeling well.

Since I started exercising daily, I feel better. It is weird because I sort of disappeared for almost 2 years now. My treatments and surgery were out of state. I did not want anyone but family and very close friends to know. Now I am starting to reappear socially and people can see that I am different, but they don't know why. I see the look of shock on their faces. Maybe I will start looking better soon.

We are blessed. Thank you for being here. It really helps. My plan was just to move on, brush myself off, and pretend nothing happened to me. That just doesn't work.

Mary

MyHopen413
Posts: 38
Joined: Mar 2012

I am so grateful for all of you and your compassionate responses. I started taking a low dose of Celexa and it has really helped. I feel like myself and not nearly so anxious. My mother died on August 25th after 5 years in the nursing home and a year and a half truly suffering. I will miss her a lot, but know she has gone home and is at peace. My most recent CT scan was clear - Yeah!
God bless all of you!
Diane

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2849
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm glad you have found something that is making you feel better. It's good to hear that your anxiety has eased. I'm very sorry to hear that your mother has passed. Letting go is hard, but no more suffering is a blessing. Take care of yourself now and keep moving forward! Hugs.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 743
Joined: May 2011

My mom died August 23rd and she too had been in an Assisted Living Facility that was becoming more and more like skilled nursing for her. Congratulations on your CT scan. I am at peace with my Mom's death also. She suffered more than she should have and it's good her suffering has ended. My scans and tests are all coming back good too. It's weird having joy and sadness so close together.

All the best to you,
Sandy

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

A clean diet makes significant improvements in our mental and physical health. I just started eating more "Zen-like" ~ savoring each bite of fresh/simply prepared/sustainable food, appreciating where the food comes from, appreciating who harvests the food, and appreciating how it gets to kitchen and then to my table. My family thinks I've gone nuts. But what's new pussycat? :)

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