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Depression and Anxiety following end of treatment

accDenver
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2021

I am new to the discussion boards.  I was diagnosed with a cT3b Stage III rectal tumor in August of last year.  I completed four months of adjuvant treatment which included chemo and one week of short course radiation.  My resection was in January 2021 and I had my reversal at the end of February 2021.  I am currently in remission.  My three month post treatment CT scan showed NED.  My LARS symptoms continue to improve although I still have issues with bowel functioning.  As with many survivors, these difficulties have been very hard for me to accept and I fear that I will be coping with a "new normal".  I just pray for continuing improvement.

Unfortunately, the cancer experience has triggered a very serious bout of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks.  I am barely functioning.  I am currently off work and seeking short term disability.  I am so scared and ashamed and also fearful for my job.  Some days I feel like I am struggling to hang on to my sanity.

This week I start Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatments to address the depression and anxiety.  I underwent the same treatment back in 2018 and it was successful. 

I am so disappointed and upset to be back in this bad place again.  I am barely eating and all I want to do is sleep or at least curl up in a ball in bed.  I am fearful of everything.  I hate leaving the house.  I am confident that if it weren't for cancer, I wouldn't be struggling with depression and anxiety again.  It really messed with my head.  I was very calm and accepting at diagnosis and progressed very well emotionally through chemo.  But surgery changed everything and I have been struggling ever since.  The post-reversal bowel issues were especially hard on me.  At times I felt suicidal. I feared I would never be the same again.   

I am looking for advice and support from fellow survivors who battled depression and anxiety after treatment ended.   God bless you all and thank you.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5512
Joined: Jan 2013

I am sorry that you are struggling so hard, post treatment/Surgreies.  Cancer can take allot away from us; it changes us, and there will be no going back to who you were, or where you were, emotinally.  But, that is not always a bad thing. It is a matter of coming to grips with what is YOUR new normal. What you want, not what others want of you, is what you need to be seeking. 

As someone who was lucky enough not to suffer depression, I can only grasp a little, what you are going through. There are others here on the forum, who will be able to help you in that area, with advice coming from experience. 

I always like to share my experience with meditation, as that helped me no-end, during the whole chemo experience, when I thought my head was going to explode. I understand that this is not what you are experiencing, but sitll I wish to share. 

You may have already tried the whole meditation thing, if not, give it a whirl as a small part of handling what you are going through.  It is not a cure-all, just one of many ways.  The key is to find what works for you, personally. 

I am sure others will be here soon, with their thoughts. Absorb it all and see if you can put together something that will help you. 

I hope the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatments, works for you again. 

Cancer is a journey that doesn't end when you hear those blessed words, no evidence of disease. I pray your road will be less rocky, as you move forward. 

Tru

accDenver
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2021

Thank you for your kind words, Tru.

feckcancer
Posts: 150
Joined: Jun 2018

i went on a course about maca root and gut health and they said that 90% of your happy hormones are made in your gut not in your head so if that is true it makes sense to me that while your gut is healing from your treatment for cancer & having cancer in the first place then your gut is not going to work as well in making happy hormones hence your depression etc reoccuring again. hopefully if you look after yourself and your gut and continue to heal your depression will be less as time goes on and you feel better. your body has been through a huge fight so it willl take time to heal and it can be helpful to help yourself along with healthy food and habits, supplements (check with your doctor first of course)  like tumeric (anti cancer), fish oil (mental health) vitimin B (sometimes your gut won't absorb vitamin b after treatment), maca (increases absorption in the area of your gut that makes your happy hormones), bentonite clay (healthy gut stuff) etc, meditation, yoga, gentle exercise, counselling and mindfullness. also sometimes we don't let ourselves feel the whole experiance of something hard to deal with until it's over then it hits us so that won't be helping either. Congratulations on NED and keep on doing what you are doing to stay well. just hang in there and it will slowly get better. take care. stay strong. 

accDenver
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2021

Thank you for your words of encouragement, feckcancer.

sreekanth
Posts: 61
Joined: Apr 2017

Hi accDenver, Thanks for writing honestly about how you feel. Most of us go through the same. The fear never goes away. Especially after recurrence. Here are some suggestions.

1) Many hospitals have support groups/ counseling. Please ask your doctor about them. Regularly meet with counselors/ support groups

2) Please try to engage with online cancer support groups where people are in the same boat as you. There is a chat group in CSN (this website). Stop by there daily. All are supportive people. Most are funny :-)

3) Every remaining moment is precious. Please engage in activities that you like, be it gardening, cooking- whatever There are many online hobby groups that help you engage

accDenver
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2021

Do you mean the chatroom or is there a specific discussion board you are referring to?

sreekanth
Posts: 61
Joined: Apr 2017
Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5512
Joined: Jan 2013

All these years I have been on the forum, and I didn't know they had a chat room. 

Tru

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6722
Joined: Feb 2009

The fear of going through cancer and all it entails can wreck havoc on one's body, mind and soul.  I've been through all kinds of emotions since being diagnosed and treatment.  I've gotten to a low point and got frustrated with everyone around me carrying on like there was no care in the world.  I've often struggled with medical anxiety since my diagnosis.  I'm hoping that the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation helps you.  A lot of people have fear of the C word and anything medical happening to them right after diagnosis and treatment.  During treatment you are focused on getting through, but once you are declared NED, then the thoughts all get brought up again.  Some call it survival guilt. I'm wishing you the best going forward and hope your new treatment helps you.  You will find a lot of support here.  Welcome to the board.

Kim

Steelkiwi686's picture
Steelkiwi686
Posts: 70
Joined: May 2019

I'm sorry to hear about the tough time you are having and I can definitely relate. I was calm and focused during my treatment that lasted a year. I was declared NED and then unexpectedly really started to break down emotionally. Eventually I received a prescription for Zoloft and started therapy. I still do Telehealth visits with therapist weekly. This has been a life saver.  A cancer diagnosis can be extremely traumatic and sometimes the effects of that hit even worse After treatment ends. 
My therapist always reminds me to be kind to myself and to try not to think about what you've lost but what you have. Writing a list of things I was grateful for daily helped me. Even when all I could list were things like the sun felt good on my skin, I could finally open a water bottle by myself, etc 

The bottom line for me was the combination of the antidepressant and the therapist where I can say things that may sound unimaginable to anyone else but her. I've come a long way and was just given another clean bill of health yet I will continue with the therapist because I need it and it has helped enormously. I'm two years out of treatment and stronger than ever yet wonder if the inner fear will ever subside. Im not sure it will because of my stage 4 diagnosis. I'm now determined to enjoy my life. I've given up returning to the work I did before and am very picky about how I spend my time and energy.

I really just wanted to say you are not alone. If you ever want to chat you can email me. 
give yourself some badly need time, you deserve it. 
you are not alone and it does get better. 
Sending you my heartfelt best wishes.

Bridget

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