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Why am I struggling?

Posts: 6
Joined: Jun 2009

I was diagnosed with an eye cancer last October, had radiation treatment and am doing well. But I seem to have hit some kind of....I'm not sure what. Folks in my support group say it's not unusual for things to catch up with you once you've gotten through the initial "I'm gonna fight this" stage. But it seems like it's going on and on. I have experience with depression and it doesn't feel like that. But I'm having trouble getting to work....I don't know if it's because it seems kind of unimportant right now or what. I know my stress tolerance is much lower than it used to be. I know I have less energy. I seem to need more sleep than I used to. Has anyone else had this kind of thing?

blueroses's picture
Posts: 527
Joined: Jul 2008

Hello, Your support group is right, many have the same thing happen after the 'fight' response. I think there are several reasons for that, one being that all the Cancer messages say 'fight fight fight' and that's great - we should fight, definitely, but the truth is that as human beings it tends sometimes to disguise the shear fear and downright worry of the diagnosis, in the beginning. Call it adrenaline kicking in to protect us from the shock, or however you describe it to make sense of it to you, I do think that there is a sort of armour that we naturally throw up to protect ourselves from the shock.

In dealing with this disease, like many diseases - basically talking about loss here - loss of our health - we go through many stages. We go through denial, why me, anger and other stages which are all perfectly normal. The trick is to go through these stages, even back and forth from one to another of them a few times, BUT the key is not to get stuck in any one of these stages for too long. You may well be going through the stages again now that you have battled the initial beast, or one of the stages, and wonder if you might want to speak to a counsellor or therapist to see where you are in it all and to help you through this.

I know that when we are first diagnosed we get into that survival fight mode but after the battle is fought that's when many emotions can set in. It happened to me too. Actually caregivers can experience this too, jumping into the caregiver mode and burying their true shock as they have to take care of their loved one, but after the loved one is on the mend the caregiver can often crash, my ex handled everything while I was in treatment and then after I was starting to rally he went into a total clinical depression.

You may not be in a depression, just a reality funk as I call it, that's how it felt for me. I was finished with all my treatments and doing reasonably well but all of a sudden I looked around and thought 'this isn't the world I used to know'. Cancer changes us and sometimes it takes a bit to get back into the world we used to know, now it isn't the world that has changed - it's us who see the world very differently afterwards. Hope some of this makes sense and resonates with you. Blessings, Blueroses.

slickwilly's picture
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

Well I guess your normal. It seems we have all been there after our struggle with cancer. I was off work about 9 months with Lymphoma in my face. I rushed to get back to work so my life would feel normal again. But the feeling of being normal never came back as I had constant reminders from side effects and damage. It seems we spend our lives working and trying to live up to a high standard of expectation we have set for ourselves. But after cancer that expectation of wanting to achieve higher ground in life is sometimes gone. We want to settle in and enjoy the little things in life that we never looked at before. We find ourselves taking more days off work and wondering what the heck we did with our life. I don't think our priorities are ever the same again. We have our ups and downs with every cancer check and develope coping skills to deal with them. We come on here and talk to people that care and are going through the same things. At least we don't feel like we are alone with our problems anymore. Best of luck. Slickwilly

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I have a few thoughts about this that I would like to propose. First, for most of us, even health care professionals, I have discovered, if we are not directly involved with cancer in our daily lives, when we are diagnosed with it, our first thoughts include this one somewhere in the ratatat of thoughts firing off all at once: I AM GOING TO DIE.

This is not necessarily so, of course, and is less and less likely these day, although I will grant, still a distinct possibility for some of us. But we are conditioned by what we have seen and heard to believe it.

Thus, the announcement alone is powerful enough probably to induce a sort of traumatic stress disorder, if you will, to say nothing of subsequent treatments.

In that light, perhaps your previous experience with depression doesn't include a bout of PTSD, and perhaps, just a thought, mind you, this is, indeed, depression. (If it looks like depression, if it acts like depression... and all of that.)

My other thought is that, because of the above, even if we do not experience depression, the notion that we are going to die puts us into what I like to think of as a mid-life crisis, regardless of age.

By that I mean that we are suddenly, probably for the first time, confronted by our mortality, slapped in the face by our mortality. As a result, the meaning of everything around us changes. What was once important, job, wealth, fame, even family and friends, whatever floated our particular boat, has a different weight.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, although we must be careful not to jump ship without thinking carefully about the ramifications, pardon the convoluted metaphor.

Personally, I realized, rightly or wrongly, that what I was doing with my life was no longer satisfactory, if it ever had been. I needed to give back to my world if I was to validate my value, my worth, my raison d'etre.

I am sure we, each of us, arrive at different conclusions.

I humbly suggest you think about whether this is what is going on right now. If so, as slickwilly points out in his post, you are not alone.

You are fortunate, inco, in that you have a support group, a sounding board, and that, because of previous experience with depression you are obviously attuned to the benefit of such support. You certainly do not need anyone to advise you to stick with that. But do not be reticent to explore, without guilt, new avenues, new possibilities.

You will never hear me say that cancer is a good thing, but we can make good things happen from it.

Best wishes.

Take care,


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Posts: 92
Joined: Mar 2009

a side effect of radiation is fatigue. i am 9 months out of radiation and every 3 or 4 weeks i hit that wall like a race car on sunday afternoon. it has been getting better and i also have learned to listen closely to the body. and the work thing. i have read a lot of not wanting to work opinions and i am one of those. i hate, did i say hate, yep pretty much hate working. i think most of it has to do with time control issues. i don't want my time being controled by someone else. i know i need to work, so i try and make the best of it. in my world i'd not have to sleep so i could see more and experience more. play more music, do more art, love my kids more and irritate my wife becuase i love her. what your going through is normal, so don't feel life a freak of nature. your normal will have to change to a new normal. don't give up, take it a day at a time. tony

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