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My first experience with Psycho-Therapy

Alexandra's picture
Posts: 1311
Joined: Jul 2012

Most of us have experienced psychological effects of cancer, treatment and menopause: fear, anxiety, depression, mood swings, loss of control, memory loss, relationship and intimacy issues, the list is long and tedious. We all cope with those new aspects of our lives differently. I sometimes envy people having strong religious and spiritual convictions.

Since my cancer journey began almost 8 months ago I have been mildly depressed.
I have decided not to use antidepressants because of their libido-killing side effects. I never tried therapy before, never felt the need.
But my insurance covers 6 sessions with psycho-therapist, I am not too concerned about the stigma and I would try anything once, so I booked an appointment.

The therapist was a quiet middle-aged lady only dealing with cancer patients.
I can’t imagine how someone could listen to horror stories for 40 hrs a week and not loose their marbles, but apparently she can. Her office had comfortable arm-chairs, dim lights and half-decent artwork.
All she asked me was “How're you doing?” or some other generic greeting.

For an hour I would not shut up. Nothing could stop me, not even the fact that English is not my first language. There was neither structure nor flow to this appointment, just the sound of my voice. I was spilling my guts to this stranger jumping from topic to topic: from my views on conventional and alternative medicine, on euthanasia, on afterlife, on open marriage and teenage kids, to my weird dreams and dark desires; and I don’t remember what else (blame chemo brain). She was nodding a lot and taking notes.
At the very end she asked “What do you expect me to do for you?” That’s when I became speechless. Really, what did I expect? What can she or anyone else do in this situation?

JUST BE THERE AND LET ME VENT. Kind of like this board.

P.S. I hope her notes don’t get me committed LOL

debrajo's picture
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sep 2011

All Dr.'s of this sort are masters of just listening! I wouldn't have been able to shut up til the funny little men in their long white coats came to take me away to the Funny Farm! You were brave to go at all. My brother-in-law is a Substance abuse counselor and the things he heard and had to deal with literaly drove him to drink...he is now an ahcolic! For real! Do you feel any better? Will you go back? If I went, any under graduate dr. could write his thesis on my twisted mind and that was BEFORE cancer! You just needed to let it all out and they have heard everything! Best, Debrajo

Glad to be done's picture
Glad to be done
Posts: 569
Joined: Jul 2012

Hmmm, I want to do this. I want someone I can dump all this into their lap and get it off my chest. If I go to a a regular doc they want to start with the day I was born. I didnt have problems then, My problems started on January 20, 2011 when I was told I had cancer

kimberly sue 63's picture
kimberly sue 63
Posts: 421
Joined: Apr 2012

I have been treated for a mild depression for many years with very low dose medicine, and very well controlled. It is funny this subject came on the board this week. For the last three weeks, I have been so depressed. Nothing has been able to pull me out of the dark hole. Usually , I can get busy with work, or things at home with family, but not in the last three weeks. I have been done with chemo for two months now, and I think it just all hit me. I also think all the stressors of being in survival mode for so many months caught up with me. I think my brain receptors were just depleted. I did go to my primary nurse practitioner, and did start on new medicine, and in one week, I am feeling better. I still need to deal with the emotional turmoil that cancer has caused, but at least my saddness is better. I still struggle with how cancer has changed my world, and world of those I love and care for. I said to my husband today, "I still can't believe I have cancer." Even with going through eight months of treatment. I think the depression hit me worst now because now that I am in remission, I didn't have a focus anymore. First it is recovery from surgery and digesting the diagnosis. Then it is adjusting and dealing with chemo. I had chemo every week, so my mind focused on that. Plus I worked every morning for 4-5 hours during chemo. Now that I am getting back to normal life, it hit me on how cancer changed everything.

I'm glad to know that it is not just me....Kim

Susan P's picture
Susan P
Posts: 103
Joined: Sep 2013

Hi Kim:  unlike yrars ago when valium was prescribed folr depression, they now use SSRI's seritonin reuptake inhibitors

Our bodies ;roduce seritonin which helps our brains to run better vitamin d & sunshine help with our own deritonin production -- our bod gets rid of some seritonin ( can't remember why) so the SSRI's prevent or slow down the lossof seritonin  I've been on Celexa for years ( brain anneurysm & stroke that left me paralyzed on one side & disabled (2002) husband's affair (1999) Ov Ca 2013)  it helphs trmendously -- not a cure all - but allows me toi think with a clearer mind -- and not just cry in despair) thaty's how I know if ( my seritonin is not balanced- if I cut down for fear of running out I start crying alot again.  my husband is on it, too his olsd dad dying & in paliative care (2008) the affair(1999)  is sympton is wprrying & not sleeping through the night. a I said - it has helped us both be more clear. - for me, insatead of dqelling on the ?bad" i am able to remove most of those thots from my brain  - instead of their over over powering me.


boty my doc- of 25 years & a doc that often fills in for him tell us to not worry about the celexa - it won'thurt us& we could stay on it forever.


We live in Alberta Canada - ABOUT 4-5 hrs north of great falls MT so we have lots of darkness in the winter sad syndroim ias common i n Northern areas.


just mty 2 cents worth


Susan P



Alexandra's picture
Posts: 1311
Joined: Jul 2012

It's incredible about your BIL, Debrajo. I never thought of this kind of occupational hazard.

I have not yet decided if I should go back. Sure, it's nice to share (dump) your problems.
I believe that one has to be 100% honest with their therapist or not do it at all.
I am concerned about confidentiality.
Because of her transcripts CC'd to the family doctor and potentially in case of diminished mental capacity to my medical proxy (a.k.a. husband), I was holding some personal things back. I am no angel and there are parts of my life I can leave off my future glowing teal obituary.

debrajo's picture
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sep 2011

RE- Husbands...That is why my medical proxy,Power of attorney,Living Will, ect. Is in the compassionate hands of my daughter of the heart(my daughter-in-law). She and my daughter will be graduating as R.N.'s in May, but she is the only one I trust! Not only would my lovely family have the butterfly net thrown over me, but they ALL would pull the plug in a heart beat! Just saying! Best, debrajo

abrub's picture
Posts: 1862
Joined: Mar 2010

He listens. He asks questions. He sometimes throws ideas at me to consider. He's supportive. He assures me that I'm not going crazy. We can laugh together, and we can cry together. And I can be totally open with him.

My husband is wonderful, but I sometimes have to limit what I tell him, because he has his own issues, both in dealing with my cancer, and just personal issues (as do we all.) It's great to have someone to talk to whom I don't feel that I have to protect.

The caveat is that you have to find the fight therapist for you. The process took a while for me.

And yes, he could write a book and make millions on me. He hasn't gotten me committed because he likes my appointments in office (and then I couldn't bring the occasional batch of cookies!)

Posts: 190
Joined: Oct 2012

I have been going to a therapst. It really has helped me a lot. I kind of take charge of the conversation and she helps guide it. It has really helped with me coming to terms with having a life threatening disease. I also cry alot during the session. My husband does not like to talk about cancer all the time so I do not rely on him to hear me out. I think he is in denial.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2013

I tried going to a therapist recently. I saw her once a week for about 6 weeks. She herself was undergoing chemo for breast cancer at the time. She didn't feel well and actually cut one of our sessions short so she could rest. I found myself talking to her and listening to her as though we were friends undergoing a similar experience. I didn't feel right complaining about my treatment and health when she was having the same kind of problems. It was pleasant, but not helpful. I expected something more out of therapy. I don't really know what, but this wasn't it.

Oh, yes, she prescribed Lexapro and that did help me a lot.


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