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GREAT NEWS!!! REMISSION FOR HUBBY! depression for me?

Posts: 102
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi all, been a long time since I posted ... Sorry bout that... Not been myself lately... 1st update on hubby - dx feb. 04 stag 4 with met to the liver. Met was removed at Johns Hopkins in late August. Surgery went fine, hubby did not return to "normal" for weeks due to the pain meds they had him on. He is doing so much better now! Praise our heavenly Father. Latest CT Scan and colonoscopy CLEAR! Remission so fast. I could not have aske dfor more for Christmas this year!
Now my problem, I should be like the happiest woman alive and yet I feel like crawling under a rock and hiding there. All I want to do is sleep. I get irritable with my kids, can't seem to find the Christmas Spirit. What is wrong with me. I just want to cry. I know it's depression... I've been this way since Early November... but antidepressents don't agree with me... they either overstimulate me into panic attacks or they slow me down and put me in a stupor, so meds are pretty much out for me.. I continue to go to my counseling and church and such, but any relief I get from that is short lived. I just have no energy at all.

Anybody else out there go thru anything like this after the biggest worries are over???
Any suggestions, besides the usual... get more sleep, do stuff for yourself... get out more... etc.
Oh well, thanks for letting me vent. Hope everyone has the merriest of Christmases/Holidays and a Happy Healthy New Year.Hugs and prayers to all of you...

Sally Jo

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Sally Jo,
It will be ineresting to hear what others have to say but I think what happens is that, for us caregivers, the stress that we have been under for months suddenly catches up with us, often when the loved one becomes well. It makes sense really when we have had to be strong all the time, deal with all the practical aspects of life on our own, or pretty much on our own....I mean bills, appointments etc. We feel responsible for our loved one, making sure they take their medication. monitoring any suspicious symptoms, worrying about tests and so on.

It is exhausting but we hardly recognize how tired we are until suddenly, life returns to a form of normalcy, something we have not had for ages and we feel like we might fall apart!

This is the time to check yourself, pamper yourself, let others look after you for a change. The whole process is emotionally draining, but you have done a great job and now it is time for YOU!

I have been so determined to make this Christmas great for my husband as this time last year, he was so ill and certainly could not eat or enjoy any of the festivities. I was doing well I thought until I came down with a painful swollen lymph node and a cold sore on my face at the same time. I have never had either before! I just think that things catch up with us and we do not know it until it happens. We keep being strong all the time, but there has to be a limit to our strength.

Keep the faith...I am sure things will get better but be gentle with yourself.

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Sally Jo,
I understand the 'emotional rollercoaster' may be different for caregivers but for me (the patient), the hardest time emotionally was definitely after all the treatment was finished. I think I finally allowed myself to process my diagnosis and everything that had happened. You mentioned that you are already seeing a counsellor, and that is great. I wonder if it might be possible to see a counsellor or therapist that specializes in what you have been through (for example, with expertise in helping cancer patients and their family members). I saw a therapist during that post-treatment period and found it very useful. One thing she had me do was talk through the details of several of the critical incidents (diagnosis, and several other traumatic/unpleasant bits), which was very powerful and also useful. Thinking of you and sending best wishes your way.

Posts: 14
Joined: Jul 2004

Hi Sally Jo,
My husband and I have been going through a kind of funk lately, too. He is the survivor and I am the caregiver. I know that we should be celebrating his clean bill of health right now and enjoying the holiday season -- but we are both having a hard time finding that happy place. I think you're exactly right though-- I think we just finally have time to feel some of the pent up anxiety and sadness that was building during all of the crazy surgeries and treatments and scans. You're not alone!! I think it's all just part of the journey. Hang in there!! Have a beautiful holiday season.

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!! For the hard stuff now - absolutely! I was seeing a therapist during my treatments. Once I was done, she told me the hardest part is when the active fight (treatments and surgeries) is concluded and the weighting game begins.
Just about every possible reaction to cancer is normal. As the others have said, be good to yourself. Make a list of things you put on hold and gradually start doing the ones you like the most.
Try to enjoy the holidays; time with family and friends. One of the few good things cancer does for people is make them appreciate every minor moment.

Sending happiness your way. jana

Posts: 186
Joined: Nov 2004

Sally Jo....Congrats on the good news for you and your husband!!!

I'm the caregiver for my wife. We've only been in this battle since the end of October this year, and much of it remains to be fought.

But I can relate with you. I felt like what you describe, but it was after I got Jerri home from the hospital 11 days after some major surgery. Kind of at the end of one battle, getting a chance to regroup and prep for the next one.

I was SO tired from the hospital ordeal, and when I was finally able to exhale and stop running around, I realized how tired I was, mentally, emotionally and physically. Crabby mood, no energy, like you say.

I've been talking to good friends, and they let me vent. The hugs were great too. Time for just me helped, like crossword puzzles, reading the paper with some hot tea, even "feel good" movies (The Muppets are great for this). Walks with the dog helped, and she's a good listener, too. I stopped watching the news on TV and avoided anything negative.

It's taken awhile, and I don't feel 100% yet, but I'm coming around. Try not to sweat it. Keep up the counseling and church friends. Let them help you for awhile. You deserve it, and I'm sure your husband will agree.

Happy holidays!!


Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Some great advise above and the experience of others who have been through similar times is invaluable. If I could offer a little professional advise seeing as I am sat at work avoiding doing a research proposal (I am a psychiatrist in the UK). I would agree with your general diagnosis of yourself and well done for admitting to it.

Treatment-wise i wouldn't rule out medication. we often see people who struggle to tolerate antidepressants for exactly the reasons you state. There are a wide range however and I have at times had to try 6-7 onpeople before finding the right one for them. If you try again you should start on the lowest dose possible and only increase this very gradually which helps minimise side effects. If you can tolerate the effects they will also often pass with time eg sedation or agitation. tehre are also new ones coming out all the time. I am sure you probably tried some of the SSRI group like prozac and paroxetine. Newer ones such as mirtazepine and venlafaxine are often better tolerated and just as effective. Talk to your doc and consider seeing a specialist for advise.

With respect to other ways to treat depresion all teh above advise stands. Counselling may be great and can help mild depression but the evidence is that for more moderate and severee forms a more formal therapy is needed. Teh most effective is cognitive behavioural therapy which is said to be as good as antidepressants (but is often best to use in combination with them). It is very practical type of therapy (very little analysis and naval gazing goes on) and is proven in people coping with serious medical illnesses (or caring for them). Consider talking about a referal to a formal therapist as you proabably need more than basic counselling.

On a treat yourself side - activity and exercise are shown to help. Do somehting every day you enjoy and ensure you don't avoid things that used to bring you happiness. There are some very good self help books for depression these days which can be very effective.

In reality though it may just be time you need to get through this. It really is the ultimate healer in these situations. I myself as a cancer sufferer adn my wife have been through the mill this year and only now are able to find enjoyment in things again 9 months after diagnosis. I know how hard this can be and aspects of it all can be harder on carers than on survivors.

Keep fighting and looking for answers and things will improve. It is important to keep beleiving that.
Best of luck and if you want more advise feel free to email me (although I take no professional responsibility for the outcome of this advise- ie please don't sue me! tee hee hee- you americans are such fun to ttease!)


Posts: 102
Joined: Apr 2004

Thanks to all who replied :) Hope you all had a GreaT HOLIDAY! I AM FEELING A LITTLE BETTER NOW... I guess only time will tell. I appreciate all your advice and will try to do many of the things and talk to my Psych. about the meds... Keep in touch and thanks for being here for me... I really appreciate it!
Sally Jo

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