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Post treatment depression

Pickleziad
Posts: 7
Joined: Jan 2018

Hello,

 

I'm here because I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's at the end of June. I was recommended 6 cycles of ABVD, with an 85% cure chance. I had been sick for a long time, about 2 years. Everything hurt, I was tired all the time, I had low grade sweats. I lost weight, so much so that I managed to gain around 15 lbs while on chemo. I had constant back pain. My onc was and is convinced, despite not doing a bone marrow biopsy, that the disease had made it to my bones. I did my treatment, still working through most of it, which I admit might not have been a good idea, but bills wait for no man. My main problem has started now that I'm done with treatment. (I haven't had my final PET scan yet, scheduled for the 6th)

 

I'm upset a lot. I can't bring myself to do anything but mope around the house. I have no thoughts of killing myself, but my mind just refuses to want to do anything but lay down and give up. Almost anything can make me feel like this. I don't want to plan for the future, I don't want to go to work, I don't want to do anything but just lay here and barely survive. I'm worried for myself because I know it's likely depression, I've had depression and anxiety pretty much my whole life, but it's so much worse now. I soldiered through my treatment, keeping a stiff upper lip as it were, but I'm at the end of my rope now and don't know what to do. Has anyone else felt like this after treatment? Physically I'm still tired, but I'm capable, I tried doing back to work and for the most part I can do it, even though it hurts. But mentally I just want to give up. I sit and involuntary think about how hard and pointless living is and just want to give up. I have maybe a couple hours a day where I don't feel like living is too hard. Please, if anyone else has felt this, tell me how you got thru it. I need to know it'll get better.

 

Thank you so much,

 

Pickle

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 828
Joined: Mar 2013

I believe many people feel degrees of what you are feeling. I know I did. While we are in active treatment, we have nurses, doctors, and other medical staff looking after us and pampering us. My nurses always smiled warmly, brought me snacks and blankets. I loved them.

I missed them when it was all over. And there was a nerve wracklng quality about it. Am I OK? If no one is looking after me, how do I know? Every little ache or pain would trigger thoughts of, is it back? 

Take it easy on yourself. You have just been through serious, major treatment for a critical illness. If all you feel like doing is sitting and staring out the window, don't beat yourself about it. Go ahead and sit and stare for a while. Those couple of hours each day you are feeling better will begin to grow to longer spans of time. As more time passes, you will become more confident and will begin to feel more like yourself. Try to be patient.

Hugs,

Rocquie

 

 

dana-mihaela's picture
dana-mihaela
Posts: 39
Joined: Sep 2016

You are saying in your post that you had depression and axiety all your life on and off. Did you get any medication or therapy before for it? I have problems with anxiety and I had it all my life the same as you. I was on medication on and off all my life also. After chemo the same as you I got in a deep anxiety mode and all the little pain and aches the same as Rocquie I was sure the cancer was back and different cancer now depending on where the pain was. I took medication again for a while and I got better. I stopped it now ( it has been one year and a half after chemo) and continue with meditation. I am doing mindfulness which seems to be helping a lot. If you read through posts here everybody has fears specially when the scans are due and tests. I would say that what you are feeling is not totally out of normal but you need to do something about it try to see a therapist. Getting help will make you get out of this hole faster and see that every minute of our life is precious. You will get better I am sure of it because the body and mind get to equilibrium. I often think about myself that this is some kind of PTSD because having had cancer is a very traumatic event. Good luck to you , do not give up!

Dana

Evarista
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2017

Ah Pickle, so sorry that you are struggling so hard right now.  You have been through so much and, understably, you want to be finished with it.  But you need to give your body and your mind time to recover.  Remember that are recovering from two things at different rates.

First, there is your disease.  You've done the hard, hard work already of getting through your chemo, and congratulations on that! I'm sure it wasn't easy.  But you have only just finished and there are parts of your body that need to "come back" and need time to do so.  Your bones, your white blood cells, your red blood cells, your platelets, maybe your spleen and your liver.  Each of these has to recover and their recovery won't happen overnight.  Weeks to months is more realistic.

Second is recovery from the chemo, from which your body has taken a beating.  Appetitie, fatigue, skin changes, nerve issues, strength, stamina, etc.  Again, each of these take time and you need to give your body a chance.  Some things may get better quickly (appetite?) while others will take longer.  They just will.  3 months, 6 months, possibly more for some things (neuropathy), but hopefully not. 

Feeling like moping around the house at this point is tied into to all of the above and not at all surprising, at least not for me.  If anxiety and depression are overwhelming you, please do ask your doctor's office for support: counseling, medicinal, or both.  And please, please, please, do not beat yourself up for feeling as you do.  What you are expressing feels very familiar, but I find that it is gradually getting better as I recover from all these things. I also find that I have to work hard at not making myself feel guilty for not wanting to get "up & out". Importantly, I have to work at not letting others make me feel guilty either. Be well.

Pickleziad
Posts: 7
Joined: Jan 2018

Thank you all! I'm trying to cut myself slack, it's just hard. Mostly because every little thing just makes me what to give up. I haven't taken meds for my anxiety and depression, I've just always worked through it with all the coping mechanisms that my therapists have told me about. It works, most of the time. I logically know I need to give myself time, and that this is not a minor illness I'm recovering from, it's a difficult thought to hold on to at times. Especially when bills start to pile up, and while I can work through the physical pain, I can't seem to work through the mental pain. I get scared that maybe I'll be like this forever, with such a bleak outlook on life. It worries me. Thank you so much for your responses, it really does give me hope that it'll get better

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3257
Joined: May 2012

Pickel,

I've had what is today called major depression since 14 years of age. Formerly it was termed "clinical depression," and before that, I have no idea.  My father was brilliant and moderately wealthy, but a severe lifelong alcoholic.  My mother was paranoid schizophrenic (very mild case, and she was functional), and my adopted sister was born with a sociopathic personality disorder.  My biological brother made two serious attempts at suicde over the years. NOT "appeals for help," but serious attempts to die. Only the grace of God kept him alive, and relatively well today.  Home was "interesting."  My diagnosis with depression was in a teaching hospital by a major psychiatric institute, and all the doctors said that major depression is mostly never heard of or diagnosed in someone as young as I was.  

I was later diagnosed with PTSD in 1988, two years into recovery from being crushed essentially to death in a car accident.  I came home after two months in the hospital, still unable to walk, and even had trouble speaking for a few months beyond that, due to neurological damage.  Rocquie mentioned sitting and looking out the window.  Upon returing home, I had to sleep downstairs on a couch bed, because the bedrooms were upstairs.  From that bed I could see out of some French doors across our yard to a major road.  I would spend hours just watching the morning traffic go by; after a month or so, I had memorized probably 70% of the cars that passed each weekday.  Somehow, it was extremely pleasurable; I have no idea why.  But simple things can be repairative.  Buddist monks mediate and train for years on something as simple as breathing: they ponder in-and-out breathing lifelong.  You get the point.  It was six months after the wreck before I was first able to get myself out of bed, and later moved upstairs.  But I missed seeing the traffic.

I was not long thereafter part of the worldwide clinical study that approved Zoloft for PTSD use.... (worthless for me, but approved).  PTSD can be temporary or lifelong; mine seems resolved today.

After my Lymophoma diagnosis years after that, I used to joke to people,  "I was depressed, then I got cancer."  And then two years after ending Lymphoma treatments, I was diagnosed with a second cancer (Prostate).  And then was followed for two years invesitgating a suspicious nodule in my lung, finally judged benign.  Best anyone can tell, I am today cancer-free.

You need to be under a doctor's care and on medication, significant medication.  My non-professional view.  I tell people "I've had no medical training; I've just had every medical thing." (My medical summary runs two single-spaced pages.)

To deny or resist medication at this point would itself indicate significant issues,

max

 

 

thahn19's picture
thahn19
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2018

I have definitely had similar experiences, and still going through it. I had to put college on hold for a year due to treatments, I didn't process a lot during that time because my focus was obviously on getting better. I was super excited to be done though, and especially to go off to college! But once I was here, it didn't feel how I expected... When I'm with people here I feel seperated from them, like there is this maturity gap almost. I have been through this crazy, life-threatening, REAL experience and they are just worried about the next party. I am also struggling a lot with personal image because my hair is still growing back kinda slow. But a lot of feelings from that year have been flooding back too, and I dont know how to keep them away. I feel like I am just putting on a happy face for those around me but I don't feel like myself and I'm not sure what to do about it... I know it should/will get better but I don't know how to get through it.

lindary's picture
lindary
Posts: 633
Joined: Mar 2015

My last chemo was Oct 2015. I then start prep for Stem Cell which was put on hold March 2016. That is when my hair started growing back. It did not come in thick and curly. It came in fine and straight, like it always was. Here I am 2 years later and the area in the front is still very thin. I have resigned myself that the "thin spots" will never fill in. Yes I hate the way it looks but I also know that there isn't much I can do about it. Solution, don't look in the mirror any more than needed. 

For me work allowed me to put the thought of the cancer behind me when I was between treatments. Afterwards I was annoyed when people were talking about their family activities and no longer asking me about how I was doing. What changed me was a series of TV commercials by a drug company. The running theme was "I am not cancer. I am ______(their name)". The message was that cancer does not define us. So everytime I started to feel that no one cared I would say this line in my head. It real helped my get back to living my life and to stop being haunted by the thought of cancer. 

 

RossMichael
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2017

I was diagnosed around the same time as you and had my last chemo treatment at the end of November. I have not had previous experience with depression or anxiety to the point where I would give advice about it but during my treatments I can say I was depressed but feel it was more temporary, just as the side effects were.  A few months post chemo a lot of normalcy has returned with life and the depressing thoughts and feelings become few and far between. I believe you will be just fine going forward and as your life progresses back to normal so will your mind.

Good Luck with the final PET scan too!

-Ross

OO7's picture
OO7
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2014

I have no experience with depression, I'm the polar opposite yet I too struggle from time to time.  I had circumstances that were more bothersome for me than my diagnosis.  I won't get into the details other than three weeks after my diagnosis my father was too.  Both NHL.  I had no support.  I hid my cancer.  After a year I found a Councelor to help me. I just needed someone to talk to and vent my frustrations with.  I'm a pretty annoyingly positive person yet cancer is rough.  It's not easy and treatment takes it toll on us.  I was told by my Councelor I have PSTD times three.  I really needed my Councelor time and greatful I found her.

Seek help if you need it, do what ever it takes and most of all be good to yourself and give yourself a pass.  It takes time but it does get better. 

 

Good Luck!

Sal0101's picture
Sal0101
Posts: 124
Joined: Sep 2015

I have to say that I am scared everyday that I will relapse again even with a SCT behind me. Not quite sure how to get beyond that except push each day and move on! I have a wonderful family and I know that they dropped everything for me when I needed it most. 

Life Goes on.  My goal is to be there when they need me the most! 

Pickleziad
Posts: 7
Joined: Jan 2018

hey guys,

 

Thank you so much for your words. I'm really grateful that you are willing to share you experiences with me. Max, I understand about PTSD and a hard childhood. I had the same growing up, and have had PTSD since I was a child. Growing up in Iran, it was considered shameful to have mental issues, and it was a long time before I overcame that mentality to seek treatment. I still haven't taken the step to actual medication, I've focuses instead on behavioral therapy. I've had limited success, but I'm still going to try for a while longer before I try the medication route. I suppose a big part in my problem is that I feel I should be better already, that the cancer should not have affected me so deeply. I'm generally a very strong person, and it bothers me that I can't be stronger right now. 

OO7's picture
OO7
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2014

I don't doubt you're a strong person, it takes time and endurance.   I remember one day my counselor told me that cancer was not going to be the first thing I thought of when I woke up with or the last thing I thought of when I went to bed. I looked at her like she had two heads, I thought she was crazy but she was right.  It is a process but that's ok.  The journey will strengthen you and hopefully give you clarity. I know this might sound crazy but what if you re-wired your thinking? For example try to appreciate this long and difficult road.  I found appreciation for stillness and time to witness things I failed to see before.  I found absolute joy in little milestones.  Baby steps at first, then giants leaps later!

Good Luck!

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