Part 2: Going through treatment
Moving on, into the unknown world of medical treatment ….depression and cancer are linked. Feelings of sadness and despair are not uncommon, wherever in the cancer journey you are. If depression interferes with your daily life and has lasted for two successive weeks, talk to your GP. Clinical depression is treatable through medication and /or psychological therapy. In fact approximately 25% of cancer patients are clinically depressed. Signs to look for include loss of interest in daily activities, persistent sadness/emptiness, sleep disturbance, weight gain/loss, loss of concentration, fatigue, suicidal thoughts or behaviour
Remember sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish if symptoms are coming from cancer such as loss of sleep or loss of appetite related to medication or are symptoms of depression.
Once you understand depression, the key is to do something about it, talk to your GP or psychologist, this is an important step to help move yourself forward.
Some of the tools for managing anxiety can also be used for managing depression, so please refer back to part 1. In addition, here are some more strategies, to help with your depression.
MEDCAL CARE –
You may expect many emotional ups & downs during your treatment. Various changes to your treatment plans can happen. Put your focus on the right now, keep in the present, tell yourself “right now, in the treatment plan, we are…. Don’t pile on the potential pressure of what if thinking.
TRY TO KEEP ROUTINE –
Get up/go to bed at the same time each day, try to eat your meals at the same time, watch/listen your fav programme. It’s important to do these small things as help giving you a sense of control when you feel you don’t have any.
These are vital for emotional wellness. Cancer can ignite emotions in patients and their loved ones and spill over from one relationship to another. Often cancer takes centre stage and that’s all you talk about. It is OK to take a break from talking about cancer
WORLD GOES ON-
While you do have people around you who do care about you, their lives do go on and often this is difficult because you are focussed on your cancer and a deep sense of aloneness can be felt, that’s normal! Talk about it, journal it, allow yourself to feel what you feel
3 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW –
Write a list of 3 things you really enjoy doing. It’s important to make time for things that you enjoy and sometimes modify them if needs be, for example…you want to be outside? but you can’t, move a chair near the window, watch the birds, look at flowers, look at the clouds and make pictures, look at nature book, watch nature programme etc. Can’t focus to read? try audiobooks, flick through a magazine, read a short story or poem rather than a long novel. Make a plan of what you enjoy and do that activity, tell your family that’s what you are going to do and most importantly DO IT! A key element of dealing with depression is taking action.
POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS –
Write down affirmations you find encouraging, inspiring or helpful, maybe a quote from a famous person or a bible verse, part of a poem or something you have written yourself. A variety of positive affirmations will be helpful depending upon what you are going through at the time
MOVE YOURSELF FORWARD ONE NUMBER –
Play mind games, think of a scale from 1-10, 1=not depressed at all, 10=very depressed. If you are very depressed, go and see your GP. If you are somewhat depressed, see if you can decrease the number by taking action, turn it into a game, I wonder if I could change it from a 5 to 4?
TAKE TIME OUT –
Set a timer for at least 30mins to give yourself time out. You must use this time to do something pleasurable for you, this will give you time out from your depression.
WISE ADVICE –
Think about someone you feel has admirable characteristics, what do you think they would advise you to do. Or think about what would you advise your best friend to do if they were in your situation?
WHATS KEEPING ME STUCK?
Sometimes you feel that you can’t move on, so write down, what do I think is keeping me stuck? Do I want more information? If so, what kind of information? Do I want to make a decision? If so what us the decision? Do I want help with some part? If so what kind of help, who can help? Do I need to take action? What action? Identifying that you are stuck and problem solving how you can move forward is very beneficial.
ASK YOURSELF WHAT CAN I DO FOR MYSELF RIGHT NOW?
Call a friend, listen to some music, go out into the garden, take the dog for a walk. This tool often gets ignored when you are caught up in treatment. If you take action, it can provide surprising and beneficial results.
ENCOURAGING SELF WITH SELF TALK –
Be compassionate with yourself, acknowledge that it is difficult, but its ok to feel what you feel, talk to yourself in a kind & supportive way. Say it out loud when you are on your own to boost the effectiveness of this tool.
A ‘ME’ GOAL EVERY DAY –
Each day decide on one goal you will achieve for yourself, it can be as simple as reading the paper, checking an email, de-heading a few roses in the garden. Each day write down your goals and write a new one for tomorrow, looking back at the evidence of achievement & success helps those positive feelings.
What one happy thought can you think about? Write it down and bring it to mind throughout the day
Discussed in part 1 of this series of blogs.
Make an appointment if you need to see one or ask your GP to refer you.
I hope that you find this blog post help, remember part 1 looked at strategies for dealing with anxiety and part 3 will look at moving forward after treatment