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Depression, survivors guilt

Posts: 213
Joined: Sep 2012

I have always struggled with depression, and have had some sucsess with medications, however, being diagnosed with cancer in Aug of 2012, has really kicked this in to high gear, and with all of the financial struggles, being constantly sick, weak, loss of work, and many other worries, I find myself mentally exausted, and my will to fight or even live life is almost non existent. I find myself wishing the cancer would have taken me. I have no energy, no desire to do things I used to take pleasure in, work is drudgery. Just really struggling right now...I was freshly married in June of 2012, and at least in part to the depression and cancer, we are no longer together, friends but not husband and wife. My Oldest son had just joined the Air Force prior to my diagnoses, and my youngest joined the Army as my treatments ended. I love them both so much and miss them dearly. I am so proud of them, and seeing them succeed has been a blessing. I am just kind of down right now .....thanks for letting me vent.


debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

Jim, i'm sorry u suffer with depression.  I also suffer with it and sometimes think it is worse than the cancer.  at least with the cancer they have a treatment plan, with the mind its so much harder.  i am also like you with no desire to do what used to bring me pleasure or even go out of the house.  it is a daily struggle and i completely understand how you feel.  cancer is a mean road to travel but it will get better.  i'm sorry you and your spouse split up.  seems the c road is too rough for some.  i will pray for your recovery of both the cancer and the depression.  please try to hang in there and be positive.  come here to vent as often as you need to.  we all need to do that sometimes.

God bless,


Posts: 213
Joined: Sep 2012

I haven't been leaving the house much either yet, but will in time.

Billie67's picture
Posts: 843
Joined: Jul 2012

Because I didn't suffer from any depression beforehand but afterwards I was struggling with the same things you mention; no energy or motivation or desire. I started on some meds and it helped a little but what helped more was when I realized that my thyroid was no longer working due to rads. We are still adjusting my levels of thyroid hormone but I'm getting better slowly.
If you haven't already done so, have your thyroid checked.

I'm sorry for all that you've gone thru. As hard as it is, they to at least get out and take a walk wound the block each day. It really does help to get out, move and have fresh air. I struggled with this quite a bit but now I walk each afternoon with my sweet doggy and it is helping to clear my head and boost my energy.

Please keep us posted. With that being said, I'm literally off to walk the dog


Posts: 660
Joined: Mar 2012

I think most of us who have gone thru this have felt some depression.  I know I did and was prescribed meds for it, I could not handle the cure worse than the depression, have found Ativan has helped.  Some of us all likely more prone to depression than others but again I think most have had it on some scale.  I had to retire and that did not help the issue either, trying to make it day to day and I have been volunteering at a local hospital which has helped a little.  Hang in there.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Now thats' depressing..., equals no fishing.

Jim, I'm sorry about your situation, and especially your marriage situation..., not sure of the specifics, but... Even in the best of times and conditions, it takes work and sacrifice... So if your's didn't work out when the times were rough, more than likely it was for the best... An I say that honestly and from my heart... Everyone deserves to find the person they can depend on and know will be there through thick and thin.

As for the depression, I'm one of those that is rarely depressed more than about five minutes... So it's hard for me to relate to long term depression.

I can ask you to seek local support groups, friends, family, church...and of course professionally be it meds or communications and counseling.

But ultimately not being with people, or out and about is not a good thing...

Thoughts and prayers you find what works for you...


Posts: 344
Joined: Sep 2012

Cancer definitely messes with your mind and I am just the loving spouse of a Head and Neck warrior. I know that my husband doesn't let me know how scared he is sometimes . He puts on a good front, but I wear my heart on my sleeve. Hoping soon the dog days will be over, as the song says. Praying for the light to come back in my life.


phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4673
Joined: Mar 2012

either....after treatment ended tho, it started to creep in.  Partly because I wasn't actively fighting the disease...you know, just a lot of trying to get better and lots of time on my hands (time is never a good thing for me have a lot of Laughing).  It still comes and goes....I'll have a week where I found myself calm, and feeling like taking on the world...out and out frisky...then will go for a while where, like you...nothing I know I like to do has any pull at all.  A big part I think is that we're still tired, but this far out of treatment we're thinking we should be getting back to where we once were.  A marital  break up is pretty darn devastating, too...and throws many people into depression....you got a double whammy.

Billie has an idea....and I've used it a lot.  Walking....drag your body out the door and your mind will have to follow.  I did this all thru treatment, and haven't given it up.  I use the word "drag" because some days that's what I have to do....it's on those days especially that I know I better get out.

Hang in there, it's going to get better....IT IS!!!


dennis318's picture
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

Our stories are so similiar, cancer came a knocking and turned my life upset down, no one told me of the financial needs, excess doc expensises, My marriage as of 30 years, took a dive, and has ended in divorce, you pray why the good lord didn't take us, I did as well...he left us here for a purpose? As much as I fought and the picture i could paint of vomitting, skin falling off my neck, trach, the smell of burning metal, and filing for dissability, and waiting for 8 months to get a check.....there still throwing me punches in life, you are not alone. we are here to tell our stories and to vent, my cancer family was my family that pulled me threw to life, I am on anti depressents and my throat still hurts from over radiation. i'm 3 years out, and hope the beast will not return. I hope all of those who watched me and didn''t at least try to help in my time meet there makers at the door, I will be there for the next person of a friend or a ear to listen too, my life also changed my beliefs, and thank him for every day i struggle to get threw a day catch a breath. Please feel free to write me, we all need a wall to lean against my friend..Take Care Dennis 

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4320
Joined: May 2012


Having cancer is a heavy load, I understand how it seems to be in control.  I wish you  the ability to rise above this side effect and thumb your nose at the beast.


fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1217
Joined: Jan 2013

But only for a brief time after my heart surgery. I sufferered many of the symptoms... lack of energy, loss of interest in the things I love to do etc. I was diagnosed with depression and was prescribed medication which I took for about 5 months. I personally didn't feel a difference but those around me saw and heard a difference.

How?... it would be as simple as how I responded to "How are you?" Prior to the drugs it was "Eh... I'm alright"... after a couple of months it was "I'm good! How are you?"

However, I had major side effects from the drug. (Zoloft).  Stomach issues, dizziness etc....  I wanted off of it and when I did stop, I realized how drugged I really was. The side effects of going off of it were as bad as the side effects on it.

Also, I have been married to and dated women who have suffered from SDD (any other issues) and have seen what that can do to a person and a relationship. Unfortunately, the science of mental illness and the effects the drugs have on our minds and bodies is still in flux, much the way cancer treatments are. We just don't know all the answers.

Now with cancer? I can see how this can trigger depression and/or worsen in someone who already is suffering from it.  Therapy and drugs can be and are beneficial. For me personally, I know the signs and will seek professional help should it rear it's ugly head. However, I will not, unless absoutely necessary, do any anti-depression meds based on my last experience. The Dr. will have to show me a lot of clinical proof that it won't mess with me like Zoloft did!




Tim6003's picture
Posts: 1511
Joined: Nov 2011

I'm so glad you posted.  Had not heard from you in a bit, now I guess I know why.  Really sorry about all that's going on Jim.....So many on this board have been through so much .....you certainly have your share as well.....but hopefully you know we care and stand with you as your online family.

You are still on the prayer list and there you will stay ....whispered a prayer the depression will go and you will find a close friend or confident near you that you can have some company / friendship with ...

I've also still got your sisiter on the list ...I do hope she is doing well ....

If you are ever in the Idaho area....you have a friendly place to stop and rest a bit ...we would love to have you as our guest....until July we are in our slow season and I have lots of rooms at the hotel with a great breakfast..  :)



Posts: 1914
Joined: May 2012


First and foremost....don't beat yourself up over this issue.  Alot of us have lived with depression most of our lives.  Now let's throw cancer dx's and tx's in the mix.  A divorce, and the kids leaving for the service.  You have to stay in the fight and know tomorrow is another day full of promise.  If the darkness gets to be too bad....you reach out and grab a hold of the good in life.  Promise us you'll continue to let us know you're o.k.  Depression is no time to go it alone !  Seek outside help also, as some of us have had to.  I'll be thinking only positives for you Jim !  Hugs sent !   Katie   

donfoo's picture
Posts: 1649
Joined: Dec 2012

If you have been having depressive symptoms since mid last year then you need to seek professional help asap. People who are telling you you'll be fine are full of it and have no idea what they are saying. Major and chronic depressive order needs to be properly diagnosed and treated as if it is cancer. It IS a disease and does not go away by itself. Many who encounter depression resulting from or as a side effect of cancer related issues are not considered chronic or a major disorder. Given the time you have had symptoms and the condition you are in now, you need to see a psychiatrist now.

Some who were treated with only one drug and had issues did not receive proper professional help for the clinically depressed. Depression is quite a different beast than cancer in that finding a treatment that is going to work is elusive and takes time. You can easily expect to be on several different drugs over time to see what works. Even things that stick and work may lose efficacy over time and you are on the hunt for something that will work. And just like getting wound down off of narcos, you need to do similar with the depressive agents as well to avoid some severe side effects.

You need to get some help and if you start really feeling suicidal and wondering the tracks and such do get help. Thinking happy thoughts does not fix this problem. Trust me, Don

VanessaSLO's picture
Posts: 283
Joined: Jul 2012

Well, it is easier for me, because H&N patient is my Dad, and his primary caregiver is my Mom, but still... I find it very hard to deal with it.. I'm in my 30-es with young family, my Dad just turned 58, so it is very hard to deal with this terrible desease as he is still young. I think that from last May, when he was diagnosed, I live only month to month or one doctor check-up or scan to another... Thinking about this everyday. Can't be as much relaxed as I used to be before. I can't call it depression, but it sure effects my quality of life. It is hard to live with cancer because basically it is suppose to be an illnes that kills you if not properly treated. So, fear of death is the main reason people get depressed. But let us all hope that we're gonna get thru this.

cureitall66's picture
Posts: 912
Joined: Aug 2012

I think "time" is what heals us and our minds. You obviously have gone through a whole lot over the last 6 months just with this beast, and adding that to what you already had on your shoulders, I know is difficult. If there is any advice I could offer, it is that you must find supportive people to surround yourself with, perhaps even grabbing "man's best friend.....a dog". The feeling of having someone care about you and what you've gone through is a very peaceful feeling....don't be afraid to reach out and find those people.

As far as the financial part, have you considered applying for SDD? I've heard from many that H & N patients are on the top of the list for approval...just something to consider. It may lift some of the burden you are feeling financially...then maybe do a small job to keep your mind busy. Even volunteering can be very rewarding. It often makes you feel like you are important to someone.

I hope you find someone to confide in and start to move a little forward. Going outside and walking or hanging out with a friend may be more conforting than you realize....it's a start. Don't be afraid to test some of these things and see what seems to work. Most importantly, remember you are here and alive and have beat this beast, don't let it take any more away from you.

As a caregiver and just having my loved one finish his tx and trying to move on, I see days that he seems very lost. I don't think that is unusual. You can see that by the many people that have posted here. He often takes a drive by himself for a little while then comes back to talk things out....it seems to help. So....surround yourself around close and positive people.

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and hope you find some peace very soon to make some small steps toward these feelings.

God Bless,


Posts: 213
Joined: Sep 2012

Thank you all for the responses, I did contact my family doctor to discuss a medication change. I do live a kind of isolated existence, but do have a dog, and am able to talk with one of my sons nearly daily, and look forward to when I can do the same with the other. I am amazed at the depth of compassion I have found on this site, and have tried to support those I can. H&N CSN has been my rock, and will continue to be. Tim thanks for the continued prayers.....


MICH4EL's picture
Posts: 73
Joined: Mar 2013


Sorry to hear how you are feeling. It is understandable given all that you are going through.  I have had depression myself for over ten years, which was eventually controlled with meds and I even had phased off of antidepressants about a month before I got my diagnosis.  I went back on the meds immediately, knowing that this new challenge was going to add stress and I would need the meds to help me cope as best I can. 

It sounds like you have completed treatment...that's something!  I am 1-week post surgery (tonsillectomy, base of tongue and lymph nodes on both sides of my neck) and now "looking forward" to radiation treatments.

When did you complete your treatment?  Did you have chemo-radiation?

Michael from Minneapolis

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