Topic: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

I'm posting in this section because I'm sure this is all to do with grief arising from my sister's diagnosis.  I feel I'm stuck in some sort of slow "quicksand" & I can't get out.

My sister is doing very well & has nearly finished her 8 cycles of chemo - but I've been going through another very rough patch.  I've been getting more & more depressed as time goes on & I feel even worse about it because depression feels like such a selfish reaction to be having.

I feel somehow I'm stuck in the future (& a very bleak future it feels when I'm stuck there, too) & cannot drag myself back to the much more optimistic reality of the present.  EVERY shred of common sense says I cannot be alone in this feeling but I do feel so alone sometimes.

We saw the Onc yesterday to authorise her 8th cycle - then she has another scan & then we take it from there. No one's yet told us what to expect after that & I think that lack of knowledge & uncertainty is contributing to my feelings - I feel so out of control (& being a lawyer, feeling out of control is very uncomfortable for me!!)

I am definitely feeling better today than yesterday, & I felt better yesterday than the day before - so I know I'm coming out the other side of this again.  Thank goodness for Spring -I was beginning to fear it would never come back.

I've had some very kind responses from new friends who've experienced feelings similar to mine, but if my comments resonate with anyone else out there, it will make me feel much less alone to know it. And if anyone else IS experiencing these emotions, hopefully it will comfort you, too, to know you're not on your own with them.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Dearest Julia, you are so not alone. My goodness, I try to stay so "up" and so strong and then it will just hit. The BIG PITY Party just for me! I will think, is this my life now? I am going to be 70 next week and is this all there is?  Can't I have my own cancer (I do) and get some of the attention on me? Could I just have 2 days of being alone? Oh, yes, my dear Julia, you have not discovered something new! Then it's over as quickly as it came and the strength and compassion and logic return for awhile. It is so true that Cancer changes your whole life as you now it, no matter who the victim is.
On the other hand I think these little panic attacks, if you will, are good for us otherwise we may never let our hair down. If you recognize that you are coming out of it that is a very good sign. I would rather think that we just  get
so mentally exhausted we take a break by blocking out IT and everything around us until our brain has a chance to regroup and then we are fine again. I am not a professional just my own Psychiatrist!! I should hang a shingle on my computer. I am thinking of you and hoping you are smelling the flowers and will soon feel revitalized with Spring in the air and new beginnings.

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Julia you already know some of my thoughts but I think for us in a younger agegroup the shock of the initial diagnosis is pretty earthshattering and the not knowing if our loved one will be in the small percentage that buy some extra time with treatment because it is pot luck who responds and who doesnt.I think as a sister or partner it is terrifying.I think you rally a bit and amazingly get by in a relatively normal way,all the while with your fears lurking just below the surface.
  But unfortunately it is time that will make the difference to your state of mind.The more time that goes by and Susan stays ok and the illness is stable the more relaxed about it all you will feel and your mood will improve.
   If it goes the other way it will be terrible for you and another journey but you wont be dealing with uncertainty.
  I dont know if you are seeing a counsellor or psychologist but I think that helps and I think just going with the flow,accepting that if you are feeling rotten for a few days you will pass through it.Do what usually gives you a lift and sometimes it works and if its not working,just go home or whatever.I have had a few disasters,the 60s party at the surf club one of them!
                                             Janet x

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Thank you both for such wonderful feedback.  I'll hold onto those thoughts & remember that these are panic attacks & not an indication of my life from now on.

Janet, it was so good to get your email with further insight & support, too - thank you!!

It took me a long time to formulate my thoughts & my phrasing before posting my message last night but the very process of writing it helped, posting it helped & reading your understanding responses helped - BOY have I got a lot of help out of this!!

Love to you all out there.
xxx

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Julia,

You are not alone in these feelings.  Part of what you are experiencing is "anticipatory grief".  This is when you are projecting into the future and if you're like me you tend to see it through pessimistic eyes.  It's so hard to try and not look so far down the road ahead.  I dealt with this by invoking the 5 minute rule on myself.  You do 5 minutes then you do the next 5 minutes. 

You also pointed out the one thing that was so very hard for me during my Mom's illness.....the LOSS OF CONTROL!  I'm in the medical field, I diagnosed my Mom's cancer and I experienced the same feelings you are having.  I am very detailed and operate best when I have all the possibilities thought out and then acted upon in a logical fashion.  The feeling of being so out of control just about did me in! 

Cancer is so insidious.  It takes control of almost every aspect of our lives.  It makes us live with fear, clouds our futures and strangles our hopes and dreams.  Everything you are feeling is normal (whatever that is!).  Some of this is your body's way of protecting you.  You aren't being selfish.  Think of it as being proactive.  Remember the first rule of caregiving is ....YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THE CAREGIVER FIRST!.

Your sister is so lucky to have you beside her in this fight.  You are a remarkable woman and you WILL find a strength deep inside of you that you never knew existed.  This is a crazy journey we are all taking together.  Some of us are at different stages but we are all traveling the same direction.  We are all here for you.  Come often, feel free to vent, share and know you aren't alone.

Hugs to you and your family!

Pam

My Mom lost her one year battle with CC on April 3, 2009.

"A prognosis is simply an audit of how truly precious each day is.  Live each day to the maximum, celebrate what was, and what is - Don't spend your life looking forward to what will or might be." .... words of wisdom from my beloved son on hearing of his grandmother's CC prognosis.

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Dear Julia,

Everything went so fast for us that I didn't experience what you are, but you have gotten a lot of good feedback on this.  I tend to agree that it is an anticipatory grief as I have read about it on here before.  Just wanted to chime in and let you know I am think of you.  You are a wonderful, supportive sister and also a very strong lady and you will get through this.  We are all here to help.

Love & Hugs,
Darla

"One Day At A Time"

All of my comments and suggestions are just my opinions and are not a substitute for professional medical advice.   You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers.

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Hi Julia,

I agree with what the others have said in that you are not alone in how you are feeling right now. I'm sorry to hear that you are in a rough patch right now, but there is no way in the world that you should feel that what you are feeling right now is a selfish reaction.

None of this is easy to deal with at all and there is no manual for us to show us as to what we should do, feel or act.  I don't know much about depression really or how that feels, but as you know I've been caring for family members for many years now and I've went through bouts of isolating and I know that didn't really do me any good. And I lost pretty much all of my friends so perhaps that is what depression did to me, I don't know.

As Pam says, taking care of the caregiver is so important and I never realised just how important it is until I was quite some time into it. Maybe some face to face supoort would be of help to you and also to be able to sit down and have a cuppa tea and a chat with others who are in the same boat that you are. Talking with friends is one thing, but they don't know what you are going through and how you are feeling. Did you have a look at the Maggies Centre link that I sent you? I know they run support groups for those of us caring for loved ones with cancer and they also do workshops. You said that you writting down your thoughts in this post helped you a lot and I know that Maggies do a workshop on expressive writting, so perhaps that may be of use to you as well.

And as always, you know that we are always here for you as well.

My very best wishes to you,

Gavin

Any advice or comments I give are based on personal experiences and knowledge and are my opinions only, they are not to be substituted for professional medical advice. Please seek professional advice from a qualified doctor or medical professional.

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

I agree with everyone's comments.  This board has the greatest members, full of wisdom, compassion, and knowledge.  I have learned so much from all of you.  Julia, you might want to run your thoughts past our very own Dr. Giles.  I would love to hear his response.
Lots of positive thoughts wrapped in hugs are coming your way,
Marion

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

I am so lucky to have found you all when I did - this is just so helpful, thank you.

Pam - it's extraordinary that I'm always aware when my sister is experiencing anticipatory nausea, or fear or apprehension ... but it never crossed my mind that my own feelings are equally anticipatory!!  I'm sure you're absolutely right about that - I do live in the future quite often & the future I inhabit tends to be unduly pessimistic.

I went to see my doctor today & we've agreed I do need someone to talk to.  One of the Marie Curie Therapists has also sent a message, via my sister, that their doors are open to me, as well as to her &, now I don't have so much work to hide behind, I'll also be following up those links to Maggie's Centre, Gavin.  I know you told me about Carer Workshops, too, & I'll be looking to see if I can find one of those.

The more I learn, the stronger & more capable I feel.  I'm back to that "control" thing, I'm afraid - but it really does help.

Jxx

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Hi Julia,

I am happy to hear that you have spoken with your doctor about everything and that you will be talking with someone regarding how you are feeling right now. From what you have said about the Marie Currie services, it seems they work in the same way as Macmillan do for patients and carers. When my dad was attending his Macmillan day care centre, I was also able to go up there at any time and speak with the GP or therapists regarding anything I wanted to talk about which included my own health care or needs. In many ways this is better than just speaking with your own GP as they deal day in day out with cancer and how it affects not ony patients but also their carers.

Here's a link once again to the Maggies Centre in London -

http://www.maggiescentres.org/maggies/m … ction.html

I hope they have a course or workshop running at a time that is suitable for you. I know the centre here in Dundee is very popular and is always in the local news.

Glad to hear that you are feeling stronger again and are back in control and yes that really does help.

Best wishes to you,

Gavin

Any advice or comments I give are based on personal experiences and knowledge and are my opinions only, they are not to be substituted for professional medical advice. Please seek professional advice from a qualified doctor or medical professional.

Re: SENSITIVE - Carer Depression

Thank you!! xx

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson