Depression is the Pits When Dealing with Blood Cancer

Depression seems to be the “it” news in today’s media. The funny thing is it’s always been an issue that many face throughout much of life’s trial and tribulations. It’s interesting when a buzzword is brought to the attention of many dealing with it in everyday “life”. Though many are afflicted with the disease of depression from an earlier state throughout various stages of their life; there’s also the many that are struck into a deep depressive state when told they have cancer.1 As I’ve told many, when I was afflicted with this myeloma business, I had one outburst of “why me”? I’m not sure that was a depressive state or just needing sympathy because I was scared. My main concern upon learning of my cancer was “how do I live past this 5-year death sentence that was all over the internet”?

Many people are not as quick to get up and move forward after dealing with a cancer diagnosis, especially myeloma. If it’s not problems with healthcare, it might be finding a good medical team, or the daunting treatment process… it’s all a lot to take in. Depression affects us all at some stage or another, but it’s that “you have cancer”, that takes an individual on a different ride.

Some signs of depression

Avoiding people

Avoiding people is a common reaction when told you have blood cancer.1 When any of us learn that we are afflicted and then once you’ve processed those words, you must deal with explaining what is going on with those in your circle. This explaining and being in the forefront is stressful and depressing. Perhaps, you aren’t in that place to share yet, while anticipating listening to the scripted “you’ll beat it” monologue. Now with that said, and if you’re lucky to have a positive group supporting you, talking about what’s on your mind at that moment is often the best thing to do. As long as you express to your loved ones that all you need at this time is their love and listening cap, you only need to what you feel in that moment.

Depending on food

Food can lead to negative decisions about how we deal with a cancer prognosis. It’s funny how some may turn to food to cope in the beginning, however, can’t stomach the thought of food once a grueling chemo treatment comes into play. Eating a healthy diet is a huge factor in your treatment regimen; it’s the less than healthy decisions like binge and emotional eating when we run into problems.

Continually discontent about the news

Shaking such troubling news is easier said than done, yet you must try and get out of this funk. If cancer doesn’t do anything but one good thing, that is that it makes us stronger. Strength in fighting this with a positive mindset is another tool in beating this. The news is the news is the news…. And once you wrap your head around how to move forward in your cancer journey, can you then maintain your sanity to move forward.

Ways to help regroup

Carry a journal

Don’t go into a dark emotional space without support. If you don’t have a strong team around you (or if you do), think about writing your thoughts and feelings down… all of them. If you want your journal to be a bunch of expletives about how you’re feeling, then do it. If you want to scream at your medical team that you may feel are not properly guiding you on this new direction, call them out in your journal. Why not allow this journal to represent and release that depression? Be bold in font, stick figures, whatever you need to move forward in a better space you can do so, as you’ve written down and released that negative energy.

Ask for help

It’s okay to ask for help in coping with the process of cancer, as it’s not easy. If your internal team can’t provide you with what you need emotionally and you’re about to explode, it’s okay for a trained professional to step in for further guidance. Sometimes those in your corner can’t give you everything you need at the moment you need it. Dealing with cancer in this moment, space, and time takes courage and a healthy mindset for the decisions ahead.

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
    Cancer-related depression: What is it and what can you do about it? Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Available at https://www.cancercenter.com/discussions/blog/cancer-related-depression-what-is-it-and-what-can-you-do-about-it/

Comments

View Comments (3)
  • bluchs
    1 month ago

    Thank You Yolanda!
    God Bless You

  • bluchs
    1 month ago

    Yolanda WOW!
    This article on depression, is all inspiring.
    I thought on several occasions, in my life that I was depressed, and perhaps I was.
    I accidently cut off all 4 fingers, on my right hand in 1990,(I was right handed)
    My house burned to the ground, in 1997 and I lost everything (or so I thought)?
    But when I was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoma, June 1st, 2015, Now then, I Was Depressed ( stage 4 with a possibility of perhaps, 5 years, with chemo, and Gods Will) ? Now 3&1/2 years later?
    I too heard, ” you’ll beat it” , your lucky to have the support of your family.
    Chemo,(40) blood transfusions, gamma globulin infusions, dozens of neupogen shots, IV antibiotics, 3 allergic reactions, blood clots, phenomena twice, biopsies, med ports twice, (I still have the 2nd one)cat scans, pet scans, X-rays, ultra sounds, intensive care, isolation, radiation, over 9 hospital stays, over 90 days combined in the hospital, etc. etc.
    I was told after the first 13 months, ” you are in full remission” Wow!
    But I never felt like I was well? ( damage from chemo, I thought?
    DEPRESSION You bet, so I tried 4 different types of medication, None Worked.
    I had multiple anxiety attacks, so I was prescribed Xanax, which Did Work.
    But then after 10 months of remission, I was hospitalized again, cancer was back, this time Terminal.( plus, I had developed degenerative multilevel spinal disease).
    So I fight on, now I am on Imbruvica, a daily oral chemo therapy drug.
    But my physical pain got so bad, I now must use Opioids, and for those of us who must use them.
    Now the current climate, and stigma that is related to the use of them? makes us feel like criminals, when all we want is to get from 1 day to the next.
    But with the use of opioids, I had to stop using Xanax, ( so I adopted a senior cat?) and believe it or not, she helps me with anxiety and depression, Go Figure??
    I always actually did eat right, or so I thought? but now I eat even better, I follow a cancer fighting diet.
    I agree that , We need to learn to ask for help, that is still hard for me, but I try to when I can?
    I actually, have always kept a journal, I started, on advise from a social worker, when I lost my fingers, back in 1990.
    It does help, it really does, I am pleased to see you bring it up in your article, I would advise it to everyone, it does help!
    Depression, You bet!
    You are absolutely right, Yolanda:
    The Time to Fight is Now, with Integrity, Grace,Hope, and a Smile…..when you feel like it.
    If I may simply ad to this.
    And with the help of God.
    May God Bless all of us, with this terrible disease.
    It is OK to be depressed, just don’t let it consume you!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator author
    1 month ago

    @bluchs – I’m so happy this piece resonated for you. I must say you’ve been through a lot, and I’m happy you got out of that dark place, unfortunately, to be met with cancer. I tell you sometimes you feel ” I’m damn if I do, damned if I don’t” saying. This process is not easy for many of us, and no one said it would be. We just have to learn to see patterns as it relates to depression, and make positive decisions as we beat our blood issue. You can do it, my friend! I’m happy you’ve used the journal method. I agree it really does help a lot! I’m also with you on faith. God has gotten me out of some interesting dilemmas and he’ll continue. Best!

  • Poll