Home Health and wellbeing

Depression,PTSD and BC

FletchFletch Adelaide Member Posts: 102
edited August 2018 in Health and wellbeing
Hi all, this forum has been invaluable to me since my diagnosis on May 26 this year. Had lumpectomy ,left breast,including loss of nipple, clear margins, nodes all clear. Yay! Stage 1, grade 3.About to start chemo, TC, on Thursday.
Have lots of support too, I am very  fortunate.
I feel as prepared as I can be.....everyone on here’s advice etc. and lots of my own research.
I have had clinically diagnosed major depression for about 20 years and then added PTSD from an incident about 12 years ago. Now BC.
My gp has explained that often people with mental health issues cope very differently with physical illness. Because I can see what’s wrong and actually do something about it, meaning surgery , chemo etc, I can deal with it.
who would’ve thought I’d be saying yay for depression!?
Anyway, I was at first, very upbeat, not scared, sleeping fine.....here comes the rant......post surgery now , I hate the way I look, I am terrified of starting chemo and don’t want to get out of bed.
Yes, I have counselling all booked in and my gp is seeing me fortnightly.
I have so much to be grateful for, and I am.
Anyone able to share their mix of Mental health and BC?
Hoping I’m not alone.
Best wishes to all.xxx


  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,973
    I will... but tomorrow! Gotta sleep. K xox
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    I am one that tends to internalise things and just deal with it at the time and then have a breakdown later on. Happened when I saw my mother dying of cancer and about a year later I had a meltdown, got diagnosed with situational depression and was on antidepressants for a couple of years. Have been feeling ok about the whole breast cancer thing, losing a breast, chemo etc but know the same thing could happen so have taken advantage of being able to get 10 heavily discounted sessions so have my first appointment with a shrink Thursday week. I do have days where I mourn the loss of my boob and know I will have to live with the fear of this cancer popping back somewhere else for the rest of my life but unfortunately this is now the new normal. 

    I was apprehensive about chemo too and although it wasn’t fun it wasn’t as bad for the most part as I expected. Some cycles/days were worse than others and we are all here to support u. I had the TC chemo too. 

    Glad u have your counselling booked in too xoxox
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,938
    I have veered from shock to numbness to anxiety through the first half of active treatment.  I handled surgery pretty well, and I walked off my anxiety every morning over 5km and often came home to update my blog or rant on this site about something.  Chemo gradually knocked the physical stuffing out of me which made it impossible to do those walks by about a third of the way through.  Depression and a feeling of pointlessness has come by to visit and like an unwelcome visitor, refuses to move on.  I am trying (unsuccessfully) at the moment, to book into a psychologist - I don't know if I will be able to open up to her/him but I need to try as this is a long haul.  

    What you have said about earlier depression helping with this experience has rung some bells for me.  My older sister, who lost her fight with BC in 1999, had also suffered with mental illness for all of her life and started receiving treatment as a teenager.  As I was younger, the family policy was to keep me in the dark about a lot of stuff that was going on, but I do remember her saying on a couple of occasions, that she was very comfortable discussing the treatment side of the cancer (but not the emotional side).  I wonder if it was because it was something that for her, seemed tangible?  My sister's mental health always caused significant problems for her but my admiration for how she lived with the BC has grown with my own diagnosis.
  • Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,407
    I was diagnosed in 2015 with BC and had surgery then and chemo in 2016. In 2017 I finally complained to my GP enough that he sent me to a psychiatrist who diagnosed depression and PTSD due to the  BC. I was put on some antidepressants but my body rebelled against them and my lymph nodes swelled up causing concern by surgeon and my oncologist and triggered ultrasounds to the nodes to make sure it wasn't the BC coming back. I had to go off the pills and my psychiatrist said I was happy enough to just live without medication at the time. He never talked through my fears just threw pills at it. I asked my GP could I see the psychologist at the cancer care building but he said since I was finished chemo, I didn't qualify and it was only for those in active treatment, not hormonal therapy. I think the hormonal therapy is the hardest part as it just goes on an on year after year. I exist.
  • ArtferretArtferret MelbourneMember Posts: 258
    I'd ask your gp again, Brenda5,  about getting a mental health management plan, where you get the 5 discounted visits. My psychologist said i was able to get it if i wanted and i was only on hormone therapy. Mind you I'm from Victoria,  don't know whether it's the same in qld.
  • VangirlVangirl Melbourne CBDMember Posts: 333
    @Sister, I have had feelings of grief and loss resurface this year (diagnosed in February). My mum passed away in 1994 from breast cancer when I was 19 (she was four years older than I am now). Do you feel this is the case for you too?
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,938
    Yes - it was always in the back of my mind like a ticking bomb (and apparently in my right boob, ticking away, too).  I marked my 46th birthday as being officially older than my big sister.  It got me at 54 and, since I've been to the same hospitals as she was in, I often feel like there's some sort of "ghost" of things past.
  • VangirlVangirl Melbourne CBDMember Posts: 333
    @Sister bless you. I know that ticking time bomb feeling too. I have been half expecting it since I turned 40 (the age my mum was first diagnosed) and made it to 42 before it got me.
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,196

    Glad to be of assistance, though I probably should revise the advice about staying in bed. It starts to look like this (credit Grey Gardens documentary, Big Edie at her finest.

  • Beryl C.Beryl C. Member Posts: 270
    I was diagnosed May 2011, radical left masectomy Dec. 2011, have been on x3 weekly infusions of Herceptin (up to no. 93), a recurrence excised May 2016 and a new one just identified under the original scar tissue - x15 radiotherapy treatments starting tomorrow. For the last seven years, other than a feeling of sadness now and again, I've been on an emotional and cognitive 'even keel'. Following a car accident 16 years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD by a clinical psych.  My PTSD symptoms were very different to just a feeling of sadness - I won't give details as our responses and reactions to the world are all different. Only recently I noticed that I was feeling a little anxious about things that I would normally hardly notice, eg, making a mistake in my diary, forgetting to phone a friend. I was becoming hyper-vigilant about the small stuff and from my previous experience of PTSD decided I needed a bit of help.  I phoned the Cancer Council and spoke with a counselor (an angel in disguise). The outcome of that conversation is that she helped me to understand and acknowledge  the ongoing impact of living with BC - its stressful and too much stress can trigger depression. I would not hesitate to have a few sessions with a clinical psychologist. xBeryl

  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,973
    edited August 2018
    Fantastic post @Beryl C. It's so good to read about someone correctly picking up on the warning signs and getting on top of it early. Big hug, Kate xox
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