14
Nov
08

Treading Water

I haven’t been feeling quite as bad with this cycle of chemo, probably because of the 20% reduction of dose that they were compelled to implement.

I certainly haven’t had the complete brain-gnawing depression which typified the first week to two weeks of the previous cycles, and I am very, very grateful for that. It is by far the hardest side effect to deal with. If you even read back through my blog posts over one cycle, you can easily see when I am feeling that way.

As someone who has never suffered from depression, it’s been a total revelation, and a hard hitting one at that. I will be totally honest. When someone I know and love has suffered from depression in the past (not just feeling a bit low, but clinically depressed) I’ve outwardly been sympathetic, but internally have found myself filled with irritation and impatience. WHY can’t they pull themselves together?

So- finding myself in that boat has come as something of a shock. Some days, I have been very withdrawn. I haven’t wanted to talk to anyone. I’ve been totally aware that the feelings aren’t normal, but can’t do anything about them. And this is coming from someone with a degree in psychology, lol!

When the depression lifts, I feel almost euphoric- it’s the most peculiar thing.

I feel bad, very bad, for my previous attitude (however internalised it may have been) towards friends who have been depressed. I’ll never have those feelings again.

When I feel down- this is what I try and visualise to myself. It might sound very bizarre, but helps me relax.

I picture myself in the sea, slightly out of my depth, on a still day, with a sunny sky, mountains around me and rocks to either side. It won’t come as a surprise to most of you who know me to find out that the place I’m thinking about is in Donegal. 🙂 In my daydream, I am treading water peacefully, with no past, present or future. I am just immersed in the moment.

The activity in my daydream is a favourite summer pursuit…or at least was pre-child. It doesn’t seem fair to leave Ian on the shore with the kids these days whilst I daydream in the water.

The daydream feels golden and warm. I think that is why it gives me peace, and seems to ease the depression somewhat.

I feel very grateful that the depression I feel is temporary and drug induced. I am so blessed.

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11 Responses to “Treading Water”


  1. November 14, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I’ve had the same feeling towards people w/ depression. I think it’s hard to relate to if you’ve never experienced. I hope you are feeling more chipper soon.

    I don’t feel all that bad at the moment, Lori. It’s a big relief…I am sure to those around me too… 😀

  2. November 14, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    See, I would automatically think the phrase “treading water” was analogous to depression – expending energy but not going anywhere – but you’ve turned it into your private armor against it. That’s just damned cool.

    I used to be suspicious of both depression and anti-depressant drugs, until a good friend of mine was actually hospitalized for a while after a nervous breakdown. It was his description of the therapy and antidepressants that made me think that I had been unreasonable in the past. And it’s a good thing I got over myself before I had to confront my wife’s clinical diagnosis of depression, because that could have been ugly.

    I’ve also definitely had momentary dips into that land myself. It’s not much fun – but like you, I’m thankful that I’m just a visitor, not a citizen…

    Thanks for understanding my treading water analogy so well! Whew, I thought noone would get it… 😀 I like what you say about being a visitor and not a citizen. I will remind myself of that in weeks and months to come.

  3. 3 Leigh
    November 14, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    What a delicious daydream, it made me feel relaxed just reading it. I am sorry you have had to experience the depression but am keeping everything crossed that this cycle keeps going so smoothly xxx I have experienced low mood many times over the years and have just got used to living with it, I am not surprised that you have turned it into a positive and found a way to combat it and appreciate it for giving you understanding xx

    I’m sorry you suffer from low mood sometimes, Leigh. It goes to show the kind of person you are that you can rise above it! xxx

  4. November 14, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I am glad to hear that you’re not feeling as bad as you have been, and that you know that it will pass. But you are still in my prayers, and I hope you can keep that vision with you when you need it most.

    xoxoxo

    Thanks Karen- I am so lucky to have your friendship.

  5. 5 laura7906
    November 14, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I had no idea depression was a side effect of the chemo stuff, although it makes a lot of sense. I’m glad it’s better for you this time around, and I think your treading water vision is poignant and inspiring. Much love!

    Thanks Laura- I am learning all the time through this myself!

  6. November 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Listening to anything a clinically insane person (myself) would have to say about this is not the best idea, but here I go…

    Due to the extreme changes in your body during these last few months…I think you get a pass.

    I think that your solution to your state of mind is excellent. The problem turns out to be that some people don’t know how to find their “Donegal”. That is when they run to the drugs. I have stayed away from the drugs because I have always found a way out.

    I am hoping not to take any meds for this because it is a temporary thing. It sucks in the meantime though!

  7. November 15, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Oh Suzy, sometimes water is the only thing that makes me feel better. I have a similar daydream, but in mine I’m surrounded by sand dunes and I’m near Lake Michigan. Sometimes I’m just in the shower (no one can see me in there and I can pretend I’m not crying).

    You weren’t being unreasonable. Depression is just something you can’t understand until it happens to you.

    I’d love to see it someday- my only impressions of Lake Michigan are from a four day trip to Chicago in 2006. I didn’t get to see nearly enough of the States! You’re right that you can’t understand until it happens to you. I certainly didn’t.

  8. November 15, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Suzy!!! I know wherefore you speak, having had clinical depression myself. I don’t know how to deal with wayward brain chemicals, but your meditation on the water is wonderful! Glad it helps a bit. I know I feel the symptoms of depression when I am ill with flu or whatever, and last round of chemo I was in a black mood, a desperate mood, for half the week. Then it lifted (?) I just could not seem to get my thoughts together, I couldn’t find anything (glasses, wallet, keys). My thought was I will be soooooo sympathetic to Alzheimer’s patients from now on, it is scary to feel like you are losing your mind.

    Donegal – I’ve never been there but since Sam was young we read a book by Seamus McManus called “Hibernian Nights.” It was actually out of print and I had to get a used copy from an Amazon seller. But we couldn’t just keep our local library’s copy forever LOL. Many of the stories are set in Donegal …

    If you ever get the chance, visit Donegal- it’s incredible! 🙂 Sorry about your own problems- I guess we’re probably on a similar cycle at the moment! Thanks for everything! xx

  9. 9 Lou
    November 16, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Clinical depression is a medical illness and needs to be treated as such. People seem to have a negative attitude towards people who take anti-depressants (as if it is a sign of personal weakness or something) but how are you supposed to overcome a chemical imbalance in your brain by yourself? I have a friend with bipolar and she is on a variety of medications and will be for the rest of her life. She has no more control over her depression than an epileptic has over their illness and her medication is no less essential than someone who relies on epilim.

    Anyways, i’m glad that you have found a strategy to help with your bouts of depression. Just try to remember if you are down that you have come out of it before and will again.

    It’s sad that there is such a stigma, but it is very real. I know it’s only a short term thing, so I am very lucky.

  10. 10 Bernadette McPolin
    November 17, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Suzy, the depression you are experiencing is a temporary thing. Many people I’ve come across in the course of my work have been through the same thing. Surgeons for example when discussing operations with patients warn them of they call the ‘downers’ they may go through afterwards.
    A close family member went through this following by-pass surgery but it passed, and it will with you.
    You are able to rationalise it and are dealing with it in a very positive way. The Taoist Biker’s comment on this of being a visitor, not a citizen is very good. Be gentle with yourself.
    It was really good to see you and the boys at the weekend. XXXes and (((hugs)))

    It was lovely to see you, too! Sorry I was not in better form.


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