World Mental Health Day
Today is World Mental Health Day, which is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
We now know that the incidence of depression following a cancer diagnosis is high. While most people will understand that dealing with a chronic illness like cancer causes depression, not everyone understands that depression can go on for many months and even years after cancer treatment has ended (one of the most frequent searches that comes up on my blog analytics is “depression following cancer”).
While the physical trauma is past, the stress lingers and brings with it days washed in fine shades of gray – Dana Jennings
Dana Jennings, whose writings in the New York Times about his treatment for prostate cancer, so eloquently captured the variety of feelings which cancer survivors face after treatment ends, wrote that while he was “ buoyed by a kind of illness-induced adrenaline” during treatment, once treatment ended, he found himself “ambushed by depression.”
Jennings’ words will have a familiar ring to many of us who have struggled with that unexpected feeling of depression and loneliness that creeps up on us after treatment is finished. For some survivors depression kicks in shortly after diagnosis or at some stage during treatment; for others it may ambush them weeks, months or even years after treatment ends.
What is even less well understood is the depression that seemingly comes out of nowhere for no apparent reason and there is less support and understanding for this. Depression is an isolating and lonely place and people are reluctant to talk about it for fear of being stigmatised or just plain misunderstood – which of course adds to the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Like Eleanor Rigby (with a face that we keep in a jar) we put on a mask to face the world, because it isn’t socially acceptable to wear any other face.
So today, let’s take off our masks and tell it like it really is. If you are feeling down and you want someone to reach out to you today, please let us know. Let’s support each other here through the good, the bad, and the sad days. We are a community that is built on compassion and understanding. Let’s show that to those who really need it today.
After Cancer Ambushed By Depression
I definitely relate. It’s only been recently, 4-plus years after treatment, that I don’t feel depression hovering over and weighing me down.
It’s like a cloud following us around Eileen x
If you noticed a sudden drop-off from posts from me over the summer, it relates to this. I was told I was virtually NED, and the relief that came with that ended the immediate crisis of my terminal diagnosis, and PTSD set in. I had an anxiety attack that was nonstop for several months, and needed a second anti-anxiety medication added to my regime to bring it under control. It’s not uncommon for depression, anxiety, or PTSD to set in after the crisis of the diagnosis is “over” or at least not as immediately pressing.
I am sorry to hear you have been going through this Susanne. It’s certainly not uncommon and when we think of all we’ve been through it’s not surprising that PTSD is a feature of life after a a cancer diagnosis. You might find this article which was published here helpful to read https://journeyingbeyondbreastcancer.com/2013/04/23/driving-the-cancer-bus-cancer-and-ptsd/
This is such an important issue that we must tackle it head on to be heard and not let it be swept under the table. I hope we all see the need and take appropriate action. Thanks for posting this. xxx
Yes, it certainly is difficult to have the Courage after many years after Treatment to admit the “downs” in every day life that seem to appear fron nowhere…The difficulty as mentioned before is that for most People around us we are “ok” again…..back to normal…..when people cannot visually see anything wrong (especially breast cancer) they assume all is back to normal…this is when it´s difficult to actually admit otherwise….on the other Hand we have to start making it our responsibilty to make others Aware of our “other face”
Hi Rebecca, what a great comment. I agree with you – it’s time we started to speak out about this more and let people know this is the reality of life after treatment. And I believe there needs to be more support around the post-treatment phase from our health care providers too.
Thank you Marie for shedding a light on something we really don’t talk enough about in society.
Thank you for this post. Been there…
Reblogged this on Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer and commented:
Re-posting this for World Mental Health Day