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Depression and cancer

(11 Posts)
MavisCrouton Thu 31-May-18 21:24:58

Name changed because I'm so ashamed. DH has terminal lung cancer, he has had surgery to remove a lung but it had spread already so he's had chemo and is now waiting for a PET scan. He's not surprisingly depressed. He hasn't been to bed in months, since his operation at the end of last year. He sits up in an armchair all night and dozes off and on, has regular panic attacks and is in constant pain. He's on a cocktail of drugs including beta blockers, morphine and sedatives. He's on the waiting list to see a psychologist through the hospital's oncology referral service.

I have suffered with depression and anxiety all my adult life and until about 3 years ago was non compliant with medication. I now regularly take antidepressants and have been managing my mental health much better until now, I had CBT a couple of years ago and was able to identify negative and intrusive thoughts and use strategies to overcome them. Until DH got ill, I was over the worst and had never been happier. I'm currently seeing a counsellor through my employer's wellbeing service but I feel I can't be open about all of this in case she judges me. I scratch myself raw when I'm feeling anxious and claw my head until huge bits of skin come off and it bleeds, then when it scabs I pick them.off and start again.

DS is 18 and struggling with his dad's illness. He is withdrawing into himself but has recently found a girlfriend whose own mum is unwell, so they support each other a bit. He won't talk to me or DH because he doesn't want to burden us, but doesn't want to be referred to speak to a counsellor either. He is quite sensitive, but has a bit of a tough image (not violent but more Bear Grylls capable) and is popular at school, so doesn't want to do anything to change that.

All three of us are suffering separately. We don't really speak about our own feelings to each other because we know we are all finding it difficult, but instead of pulling together we end up bottling everything up then occasionally letting it all go in a cathartic argument. It's awful and I hate it.

What makes me feel so ashamed is that I am so nasty when I lose my temper. I've said some really vile and unforgivable things today, like DH should fuck off to his ex wife who has also had cancer, and they can have a pity party together. I have slagged him off for not working (he's on long term sick and not paid at the moment apart from PIP) and not contributing financially. I've told him he can't use his illness as an excuse to be a cunt. He has been nasty too, saying he would divorce me and get a great settlement because my wages are really high compared to his.

The thing is we love each other so much, we are usually so kind to each other and neither of us mean what we say in temper, but I go so much further than he does and can't find the off switch. I end up crying out of anger and remorse the second it has left my mouth, and it doesn't happen very often, but just once is too often and we have been together for 20 years and never laid into each other verbally like this. I don't know what to do. I want to be nice, I want to be patient, but I can't do it sometimes.

This is so long and I'm sorry, I know I am an awful bitch, but if anyone has any advice on how to be patient and cope with living with someone who is dying without feeling resentful please please help.

OP’s posts: |
WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Thu 31-May-18 21:29:40

You're not an awful bitch. Cancer is horrendous for all involved.

Sorry. I don't have any words of wisdom. I'm the one with cancer in my family so I'm on the other side.

Do you think it would help to try and have a family conversation about your feelings? It's so sad to think of you all struggling on your own.

Please be honest with your counsellor though. That's what they're there for. Otherwise they can't help! flowers

Stillnotready Thu 31-May-18 21:33:06

Start by being honest with you counsellor. That will help, and then seek support from your local hospice.
I am so sorry for all of you flowers

FiveGoMadInDorset Thu 31-May-18 21:34:44

You are definitely not a bitch, when my sister was dying her, her husband and her two adult boys went to family counselling which was organised by the hospice which both boys said helped, my DH is also terminal and we have also been offered family counselling but haven't taken them up on it yet. Ours was organised by a referral from DH's oncologist, is this something you would think about doing?

MavisCrouton Thu 31-May-18 21:43:43

Thank you so much for your kind words. I would go to family counselling and so would DH - he keeps moaning about how long it's taking for his psychologist referral and recognises he needs help - but I don't know if DS would be open and talk if we all went. He would go if we asked him to but might not speak.

I haven't had the courage to talk to my counsellor about it because (and this sounds pathetic and self absorbed I know) I worry she will look at me differently and it's harder to say in person, I'm crying a river writing this in anonymity. I will try when I see her next week, I only have 2 sessions left.

flowers everyone, this is so shit isn't it. Cancer is a bastard.

OP’s posts: |
Stillnotready Thu 31-May-18 22:14:09

A wiser person will come along soon I hope, but it seems like you don’t yet have the words to describe to each other how you are feeling, so it just comes out in heat and flame, because the pain is so hard to bear for you all. And the heat and flame burns where really you seek salve and comfort

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Fri 01-Jun-18 06:58:54

If you can't say it out loud could you write it down? You could print off what you've said here.

I empathise I really do. I stopped seeing my counsellor because I found I wasn't being open with her. It's hard to make yourself vulnerable and reveal all your flaws. But that's the only way the counselling can actually help.

You could look at it that you only have two more sessions then you never have to see her again. So even if she judges you, what's the worst that can happen? She's bound by confidentiality so she can't go around telling everyone.

MavisCrouton Fri 01-Jun-18 07:01:03

Thanks still that is exactly the way I feel. It doesn't seem real, it is like I am compelled to lash out to make it seem like it's reality. I can't imagine life without him, but feel like I am already there because he is very accepting of the inevitability- since his diagnosis he has been making plans for his funeral service and where he wants his ashes scattered, he has chosen the music, bought me a dress to wear to it, bought me a new eternity ring because my old one was bought when we didn't have much money and I happened to idly show him one I admired in a jewellers, and bought me some pearls, so that I will think of him when I wear them. It is breaking my heart. He has even traded our family car in for a small Corsa for DS so that he won't have to worry and DS will be able to take me to work and shopping (I can't drive for medical reasons).

Sorry, this is another long load of self pity, once I start I can't stop because I can't talk to anyone about it. My nan has told me to talk to her, because she was a young widow too (I'm 39) but what scares me is becoming my nan, because although she is awesome and fierce and my best friend apart from DH, she has also been alone for 40 years.

OP’s posts: |
MavisCrouton Fri 01-Jun-18 07:02:02

leslie that's a really good point. Thank you. I hadn't thought of it like that but I'm relieved that it's not just me who has the same thoughts about opening up.

OP’s posts: |
WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Sun 03-Jun-18 09:57:36

Mavis not at all. I don't know about you but at school I was a bit of a teacher's pet. Not deliberately but I always followed rules and did my work so they liked me. I find myself doing the same sort of thing with my medical team. And when I had my counsellor I felt like I had to please her.

To be fair she was really rubbish at counselling someone with cancer. She kept going on about how brave I was and bullshit like that angry so then I felt pressure to be a certain way.

I'm looking for a new counsellor but my intention is to tell her upfront about my people-pleasingness in the hope that that will help me force myself to be more honest, and she will know that I might need a nudge to open up properly.

I hope that you manage to confide in your counsellor about this so that she can help you.

Are there any support groups locally for carers of people with cancer? It might help to meet others in a similar situation.

elisaveta Mon 04-Jun-18 13:57:34

Just wanted to send flowers. You don't sound to me like a bitch at all - you sound like someone lovely and thoughtful, who's at the end of her tether, and frightened and grieving. Cancer is an utter bastard, and it's cancer voicing those things that you wish weren't being said. You and your husband obviously love each other so much - it's the love that matters and the love that lasts. xxxxx

(I would think about talking to your nan - she sounds awesome. maybe she actively chose to be alone, but that doesn't mean that you would have to make the same choice. Talking to someone who really loves you AND who understands completely what you're facing might be really helpful.) xx

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