When you’re depressed, you can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it.” I know, because I have been telling myself this for a while. And it hasn’t work.
Depression is more than just feeling down in the dumps or sad for a few days. Feelings of depression don’t go away so easily. They can and will interfere with your everyday life.
Breast cancer treatment will more than likely, make you sad, tired, and/or depressed. These feelings are resulting from and are affected by many things: your cancer diagnosis and treatment, physical changed due to a lumpectomy or mastectomy, aging, hormonal changes, life experiences, and genetics.
Sadness is a natural part of your breast cancer journey. It is something you need to express and move through. If you don’t allow yourself to feel sad and grieve, your grief will get in the way of you feeling and getting better.
Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment and it will most likely hit you hard. You also may be having hot flashes and trouble sleeping. You may be feeling overwhelmed or debilitated. All of these factors can make you feel depressed.
If you think you’re depressed, talk to your doctor. Together you can sort out if what you’re feeling is depression or extreme fatigue. You also may want to talk to an therapist. Therapy can help you feel supported and allow you to talk about what’s bothering you. Antidepressants can also help ease feelings of sadness and anxiety and help you feel better.
It’s also important to find out what’s causing the depression. If one of the medicines you’re taking to treat breast cancer is contributing to your depression, you may be able to switch to another medication. If early menopause is contributing to your depression, medicines are available to help.
If you’re depressed, you may feel exhausted, helpless, worthless, and hopeless. All of these thoughts can make you feel like giving up. It may seem hard, but don’t believe your negative thoughts and don’t let these feelings get in the way of your treatment and your healthy future. If you feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts, try to set realistic goals. Don’t expect to be able to do everything you did in the past. And let your family and friends help you.
It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.
Participate in activities that make you feel happy or relaxed. Going to a movie, a sporting event, playing music, painting, or volunteering to help others can take your mind off your troubles. Relax on the back porch with a book and a glass of tea. Work in your flower bed. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do some that requires you to change your train of thought.
Good nutrition will boost your immune system and make your body as healthy as it can be. Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. And exercising can reduce stress and help ease depression. Try to walk for 30 minutes every day. Yoga is a good ideas. If you feel up to it, go longer or do something more strenuous.
Remember, your mood will improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel better right away. Try to find joy in whatever you achieve each day.
You may want to postpone important decisions until your depression has lifted. Before making a decision about changing jobs, getting married or divorced, or moving to another city, talk to people who know you well and have an objective view of your situation.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hours—long enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
Now, for me!
I have been depressed a couple of times in my life. Two of these are a blog for another time. Once was during my first marriage. Mental and physical abuse has a way of making you depressed. I worked through it without drugs over a long period of time. Getting a divorce made a big difference.
Breast cancer didn’t really affect me, at first. The aftermath of a bilateral mastectomy did, but it took a while to set in. Seeing the scars day in and day out in the mirror, weighed on my mind. I cried often over loosing my boobs. I put on a good front, but it depressed me.
I work with a great group of people, but I began to feel unappreciated. Same with my home life. Doing everything and getting no help will ware on you.
And then I seem to have found myself, after 20 years (only 10 have been married) with a man who has told my upteen times, his money. Not ours, but his money was being wasted.
Nevermind what I supposedly wasted it on. It was all stuff that was way over due or what he had actually done.’
I have let myself be pushed into a rut. I have no time for me. No time to do the things I enjoy doing. I am either working, cooking, cleaning, driving a g-baby to or from school. Or being a medical taxi for two different cancer patients. And I get nothing but crap about not doing something the way they wanted it.
I do all of this because I love them. But due to lack of sleep, not eating right, feeling unappreciated, not having anytime to relax, I am crying all the time. And if I am not crying, I am angry.
Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On my own, it has been difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult for me to reach out for help. When depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends has been tough.
I feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at my situation, or guilty for neglecting my relationships. But this is the depression talking. Reaching out should not a sign of weakness but I feel like it would make me a burden to others. The loved ones who have hurt me the most are the one I should ask for help.
Yes, I have taken my own advise. I have an appointment scheduled for Monday. Hopefully there is a pill to take care of this. I have no time in my schedule for a therapist.