Guess what? I'm depressed!

Posted By
POW
1/30/2013 10:28am
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POW
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Replies: 18

The human psyche is really weird, isn't it? 

My brother in Florida has been a hospice in-patient for almost 2 weeks now. His neurological symptoms have been eased by dexamethazone and he is not in pain. The hospice is a very good one-- the nurses are kind and attentive and my brother is doing pretty well and receiving a lot of visitors.

I returned from Florida to Atlanta 3 weeks ago (just before he entered hospice) and I have been dead in the water ever since. I have been a freelancer for 10 years and suddenly I find myself unable to do any work. I just can't seem to concentrate and I end up taking naps all the time (as a freelancer, I have never allowed myself to take naps!). I don't feel like grocery shopping or cooking so we've been eating a lot of take-out. I just seem to diddle around all day and/or get unreasonably, obsessively angry if some medical person does not return my phone call by the end of the day. At this point, my clients are starting to get restive about my projects. I resolve every morning to sit myself down and do some work -- at least a couple of hours-- but somehow it doesn't happen. 

So I finally went to a caregiver/grief counselor yesterday and asked, "What the heck is wrong with me?! My brother is getting the best care he can get at this time, there are no medical dragons I need to slay any more. Why can't I get my life back on track?" She said I was depressed. Depressed?! Me?! Who'd a thunk?

I suspect that you will say, "Of course you're depressed. Under the circumstances, who wouldn't be?" But I have been depressed once or twice before in my life and it didn't feel this way. Also, I have known intellectually for several months that my brother would probably not survive this illness. I have accepted that fact intellectually. So I shouldn't be depressed about it, right? Wrong.

After talking with the therapist, I now understand that the emotional half of my brain has absolutely NOT accepted what's going on. I need to cry more. I need to paint more. I need to be gentle with myself and stop criticizing myself for my preceived "laziness". But I also need to take little baby steps to try to get my life back on track. Don't try to shop for a week's groceries, just try to get something for dinner tonight. Don't try to make up for lost time on my work projects, but do one little piece of one project each day. Do something physical each day like going for a walk or working in my garden (mild weather is one of the joys of living in Atlanta). Send my brother a funny greeting card a couple of times a week instead of worrying about him all the time.

So I guess my advice to the rest of you caregivers is to not be tricked by the analytical/intellectual part of your brain. ASSUME you are depressed, even if it doesn't seem that way. And think about what steps you can take to be kind to yourself and to deal with your depression. Allow yourself to cry. Allow yourself to rage. And allow yourself to rediscover some pleasures in life. This is a rough road we are walking-- ignoring or denying that fact will just make things worse. 

yoop - (1/30/2013 - 4:20pm)

Hi POW,
You are a good egg and I admire/respect what you have done and are doing for your brother. It's not easy on anyone and its not fair for anyone. A grind pretty much sums it up. You love your brother very much and I am sure he loves you the same and appreciates what you are doing. Depression really blows, I've been there, probably a couple times and it does become debilitating at times. I found it best to 'make myself do things' ie. call friends who make you laugh, visit, try to not consume your thoughts with your brother since I am petty sure he wouldn't like that. Think about pleasant things like women with big breasts or something. See, just writing that made me smile. Anyway, I hope things turn a bit brighter for you and I am confident they will. Hang in there and know you are not alone and feel free to rant all you wish.
Oh, I just realized you might be a she, if that's the case then think about a really really small penis. ( thinking about a very, very large one might seem mentally unsettling ). Ok, forget the penis thing and go with a little baby bunny... Bunny=pleasant...
Yoop

jag - (1/30/2013 - 8:01pm)

Dude, all you had to do was to look at her profile. Freakin yooper.

Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

yoop - (1/31/2013 - 8:22am)

Sorry if my response was offensive to anyone.
I missed the fine print in the rules of posting regarding SATIRE...
Definitely a faux pas relating to the norms in cancer speak.
Never again will cancer, penis and breasts be uttered or writ in said passage. There.
Yoop

POW - (1/31/2013 - 8:51am)

Hi, Yoop-

Yes, I did find some parts of your post offensive and inappropriate. Thank you for recognizing that and promising to cool it.

Frankly, I think you are a very wise and sensitive man. The actual advice you give and information you share is very, very good. But I suspect that you get uncomfortable showing such vulnerability and so you automatically throw up a shield of off-color humor. You don't have to do that here. We LIKE it when people of both genders tell it like it is.

Let me hasten to add that I definitely do appreciate some lightness and humor in the midst of all this melanoma stuff. So if you or anyone else has the gift of seeing the funny side of life (which I do not) please do share that. Maybe a funny story about losing one's hair. Or something cute a grandchild said. Or the punch line from a particularly funny get well card. As the Reader's Digest says, "Laughter is the Best Medicine". Make us laugh, Yoop. Just please keep it in good taste.

Nancylee - (1/31/2013 - 8:59am)

This is exactly why no one come here anymore.  I did not find Yoops post offensive at all. I laughed. It reminded of of the old days when anything goes and whatever topic we wanted to talk about was fair game. You either got involved or you ignored it.

 

Have fun with your mundane conversations.

POW - (1/31/2013 - 9:27am)

Well, Nancylee, if the "old days" where everybody said whatever they wanted to say were so great, why did the Off-Topic Forum die? You remind me of one of Yogi Berra's quips about a nightclub: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." 

While I think that the Melanoma International Foundation has great informational resources (especially their webinars), I think that the MPIP main forum is more active and much better for sharing melanoma information and experiences. But I do wish that MPIP had a "Caregivers" forum like the MIF does. I guess I was trying to use the Off-Topic forum for that purpose. If enough people want to use the Off-Topic Forum for rants, jokes, and political diatribes, perhaps someone could ask the MPIP adminstrator to start a "Caregivers Forum" for the fuddy-duddies among us. I'd be fine with that.

Janner - (1/31/2013 - 12:16pm)

When the MRF changed the bulletin board format, they lost a large following.  The old format, while obsolete, was a lot less cumbersome.  It required no registration, so all bets were off.  There was discussion in the past about having different forums, but it was felt that caregivers have lots of perspective for patients and visa versa.  The MIF separates everyone.  While you have nice categories where you can post, you don't get the crossover between all the different groups.  That has always been a positive aspect of MPIP.  Just because I'm stage I doesn't mean I can't contribute something meaningful to a stage III or IV patient or caregiver for that matter.  If I always posted in a stage I forum, chances are I wouldn't be checking the other forums.  In addition, the chat room has lost it's following too.  It used to be we had regulars there almost every night willing to help anyone who joined.  It would be nice to have that an active feature again.  You got immediate feedback instead of waiting for your questions to be answered on the BB.

Go ahead and use the off topic for caregivers or whatever works for you.  Those types of posts are still appropriate on the main board however.  We still have a few people that hang around from the old days and miss the good (and the bad) camaraderie that existed on this off topic board - as far back as 15 years ago.

yoop - (1/31/2013 - 1:29pm)

Hi POW,
Hmmm, yes, we all use different coping mechanisms when dealing with anger and grief.
There was another board called the "Dark Side", it was where the delinquents of cancer expressed themselves without abandon. Brutal sometimes but we all knew the rules...there were none. That board was taken down for various reasons.
It was an active board with very clever (mostly) people taking shots at each other and there were many differing thoughts shared with very descriptive overtones. Many came over to the off-topic, but because it had differing 'rules' than the dark side most left.
How about a story??? I wrote this last week.

Hot Buttons

by SirWilho

​"Billdo, Billdo, Billdo," chides brother Gump at me.
​"Honestly, if you call me that one more flippin' time, I am going to rip your lips off," says the red faced, blood boiling me.
​"Whatcha gonna do? Hit me with your purse??... Billdo, Billdo, BilllllDooooo"
​Size and age were against me so there I sat and took the abuse. Mannn, did I HATE​ that nickname Gump gave me. See... Billdo rhymes with ... well it has to do with women doing something to get something from something and I liked it not.
​I could have hit Gump's Hot Button, but the sight of my own blood never did sit well with me. His hot button was to call him, MahhhKoooommmBa, based on features reminiscent to Neanderthals. (How do we know Neanderthals called each other MahhhKoooommmBa? Not sure and I guess it doesn't matter)
​The brothers and I are very attune to each others personality quirks, likes and dislikes and we share a twisted sense of humor. What is odd, is that we expect it from each other and revel in how fast and how mad we can make each other. Back when we were kids, a simple punch would crank you up. Now, since we are much more mature, simple brain attacks serve the same purpose. Afterward, all is good and we will even laugh about it. However, the Billdo name cranked me up, but that was when I was a kid and I really don't care when the smiling brother calls me that now.
​What made me think of this topic? Well, this morning, Brother Bishop called me at 8:30 A.M. It's a Thursday and he should be at work so something must be wrong and I answer the phone. "What's up?", says me. "Nuttin, just calling you," Bishop says with a smile in his voice. Now I know everything is good but he took the day off for a reason. He's not hunting, he's not ice fishing and I think real hard why he has the day off. Then it hits me.
​"You are off to see the dentist in Marquette, aren't you?" I ask. "Yep... you got it," says Bishop.
​I instantly feel me blood pressure rise and I shouldn't let it bother me. Here is why it does... Marquette is 88 miles from Bishops house... one way. This dentist... (he says)... cuts him a deal for the two gold crowns that run about a grand a piece.
​Here's my issue. His dentist sucks, flat out SUCKS. Bishop goes there at least, (no lie) once a month. The crown will fall off, the mold didn't work, crown fell off again, now need a root canal, new tooth needs new crown.... endless, f'ing endless. He then takes a day off of work each time to drive there. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE... gas money, eating out... its just not right.
​You're right... Why should I care? It's not my problem but it drives me nuts for some reason. Then... he calls me throughout the day.... ringg, ringgg.... "Yeah?" says me. "We're just driving to the dentist," he says. Click. Ringg, ringgg... "Yeah?" says me. "We're at Pondi, having something to eat before going to the dentist." he says. Click. Ringg, ringgg.... "Yeah?" says me. "Just sitting and waiting at the dentist office.. the 'Dr.' is running late." Click. Ringg, ringgg... "Yeah?" says me.. "It sure is dark driving back from the dentist," says he.
​This morning when I was talking to Bishop about this, I tried.... really tried, not to say something but then it just came out and there was no stopping my foul mouth from spewing, (once again) all the reasons why he shouldn't drive there. This took five minutes off my life and I used every swear word there is. Bishop begins to giggle, then chuckle, then laugh just because he got me cranked up.
​Brother Sprout? Just take a huge swig out of his one and only water or pop and leave him with backwash swirling on the bottom. Instant swearing. He also likes to take little 'snickey snackey's' along when we plan a day in the woods. I usually don't bring anything. Well, I never do but sure get hungry and need a snack after walking around all day.
​He will even resort to hiding them someplace in the truck. I am a bloodhound when it comes to his snacks. Since I am a planner, I plan on getting to the truck before Sprout and indulge in a few of his snacks. "What's on your goatee? Is that ChexMix remnants?" he asks. "Nope," says the smiling me. "If you touched any of my f'ing snacks I am going to punch you. Now...WHERE THE 'F' DID YOU PUT THEM," the agitated Sprout demands. Then... he goes off.
​Pappy is easily agitated and you can spin him out quick. I have about a hundred instances but will recount only one.
​Mom grew up in Covington, about 50 miles from where we lived, and five or six times a year we would all load up and take the seemingly eternity drive up there.
​Now imagine, 4 boys.... (All needing Ritalin, but it wasn't invented yet) and two adults in an old Ford Montego. No portable DVD players, Ipods, or hand held devices... Nuttin' to keep us occupied. Ever see a raccoon in a live trap? Now imagine 4 raccoon's in 1 live trap. Brutal on us, but more brutal on our parents. After numerous threats and several hair pullings we were instructed to keep our yaps shut and not move a muscle. There we sat and I had my feet under the seat in front of me which was the Driver's seat.... Pappy's seat....
​Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle my shoes under his seat so that he can feel it on his butt. "Quit messing around with your feet Billy!" Pappy says nicely. "Sorry," says me. Two minutes or so go by. Wiggle, wiggle, the feet move without instruction. "I said Quit it Billy," "Oops, sorry. I forgot." Three minutes go by and now my feet are sweating because they just want to wiggle so bad and irritate Pappy. Wiggle they go and I can't stop them. "DID YOU JUST WIGGLE YOUR FEET AGAIN BILLY?" button pushed Pappy screams. "Nope," the very nervous but trying to remain calm me says softly.
​Five minutes go by and my mind is consumed with only one thought. Wiggling my feet. Wigg.... and a hand faster than a lightning bolt somehow snaps off the steering wheel, reaches behind the seat and smacks me upside the head. My wiggling obsession was quickly snuffed out with that one smack.
​So there, something for everyone in this story. Sad and weird that making someone mad becomes amusing. However, I watched Americas Home Video's last night and the world must love to see a guy get hit in his nads so hitting someone's hot button and finding enjoyment from it must not be that weird... right?

jag - (1/31/2013 - 5:03pm)

Yoop, sorry for throwing you under the bus like that, but if you read through it, Bill is just as guilty.  Just don't want to lose you here out in the dustbowl.

Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

yoop - (2/1/2013 - 8:28am)

Sensitive?? Vulnerable?? Geez, I must be getting soft.
This place can now be called the "ManGina Monologue's". Anyone up for giving me a cyber hug? And why are we attacking my penis? Size is purely subjective but I'll give you some perspective. Compared to John Holmes my penis = tiny. Now.. my penis compared to 'ol Bill's' and I am John Holmes.
Nancylee is my heroine. Thank you. Have you talked with Dan in a while?
Thanks to Bill I now have this mental image of John looking like Phil Mickelson when he was chubbier. Sweat marks even under his moobs. Bleh.
And POW... Lookeee what you dun... Banter on the off topic.. Good job. And yes, I promised not to write the "P" word anymore but did. Tried to just whisper it but I can't find that font on my IPad. Ha
Yoop

BillMFl - (1/30/2013 - 6:21pm)

Been in your shoes. Something that has always worked for me is exercise. Not  extreme exercise. More like medium exercise thats fun to do, gets the juices flowing and increases natural endorphins that regenerate those positive feelings. Riding a bike, a walk in a pretty park, working on the yard/garden. Do it first thing in the AM. I also drink some good strong coffee first thing for the boost it gives. So get your butt going early and use that momentum the rest of the day. Make a short list of things you need to do and check them off as you complete them. And give your self some little rewards thru the day. Chocolate or oatmeal raison cookies work for me. physical health and mental health go hand in hand. I bet yoop has a small penis. :) But he means well.

jag - (1/30/2013 - 8:05pm)

For a guy who pretends to know a lot about women, you sure do a great job of bringing the subject right back to good Ole Bill.

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jag - (1/30/2013 - 8:25pm)

You are defnitely going through a personal hell right now.  The emotional ups and downs of watching your brother fight the beast, then thinking he was definitely going to pass, to suddenly see him have a good quality of life is very unsettling and it makes sense that you feel dead in the water.  To hell with your clients getting restive.  Tell them what is going on, if they don't understand it, they aren't worth the business, don't beat yourself up about it, if you are good at what you do, work will come to do, as you are a freelancer, I imagine you are.  Oh yeah, and take Bill's word for it about Yoop, if anyone would know about another guy's penis, it would be him.   

God Bless

John 

by the way, what do you do for a living?

Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

POW - (1/31/2013 - 9:44am)

Thanks, everybody. It sure does feel good to know that my secret fears and frustrations are not unique to me. I guess we all try to appear strong and optimistic most of the time, and that's probably a good thing. But it's nice to know that underneath, we quake and bleed, too. So thanks!

Bill, I love your suggestion of doing some moderate exercise early in the day. Up to now, I've been telling myself that I can reward myself with some fun exercise (for me that 's gardening) after I put in a couple of hours of work. But then I don't work so I don't get any fun or exercise. I'm going to switch things around and try it your way for a while. Thanks for the idea.

John, I finally did bite the bullet and tell my clients what's been happening with me. I usually don't boogie my problems all over anybody else, but I felt they deserved an explantion for my unusual behavior lately. They were both very nice and very accomodating and they both appreciated the courtesy of me informing them about my situation. Live and learn, I guess. 

And to answer your question, I am a freelance instructional designer and web developer. I work from home creating online learning courses for medical and public health professionals. Been doing that for 10 years now. With no office to go to and no boss standing over my shoulder, it is imperative that I set my priorities and manage my time appropriately. That is why depression can be so damaging to my finances as well as to my psyche. The advice and support I have received here have helped very much! 

Now... gotta go transplant that lantana bush and THEN burn a CD and deliver those files to the client!! 

jag - (1/31/2013 - 4:56pm)

There you go, now please stop "internet bullying" poor Yoop.  He has been known to be very sensitive, where do you live that you garden this time of year?  Up here it has been in the teens and single digits for quite a while.  If we transplant after November, that plant is a goner.  

Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

POW - (1/31/2013 - 7:06pm)

John, if there is such a thing as ice fishing, why can't there be ice gardening? Haven't you ever heard of an ice axe?

[ I live in Atlanta. We don't have winter here, just a few months where it finally gets cool enough to play golf. ;-) ]

jag - (2/1/2013 - 8:14pm)

Live there your whole life, or a transplant?

Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

BillMFl - (1/31/2013 - 6:11pm)

Good start POW. Next thing you know you may be pulling Yoops leg. The short one is hard to find. John seems to be really relating to you.  It probably helps that he has man boobs and carries a murse. My only fear is you may be too intelligent for the crowd (albiet a diminished crowd) in here. I am the only sane one.  In case you hadn't noticed.  If none of this foolishness hasn't made you crack a smile yet, let me know and I can turn it up a notch. Remember, early to bed, early to rise and early to excercise. :)