Coping with Depression during Breast Reconstruction
By: Courtney Floyd
With all the news and media attention currently focused around the heartbreaking tragedy of Robin Williams’ suicide, I believe it is important to address the very real struggle of depression that can arise during the journey of breast reconstruction.
Depression is more than feeling gloomy or sad for a few days. Symptoms of depression do not go away and can gain control of your life. The most commonly identified signs of depression are:
- loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- change in weight
- difficulty sleeping or sleeping all the time
- energy loss
- feeling worthless, helpless, or hopeless
- thoughts of death or suicide
It is important to remember that sadness is a natural part of your breast reconstruction experience. After a diagnosis of breast cancer you can easily become overwhelmed with all of the treatments, doctor’s appointments, and the challenging realization you are being pushed unwillingly into a fight for your life. The stress and grief you feel is something you need to express and move through. If you do not allow yourself to grieve, the unresolved grief gets in the way of feeling and getting better.
During breast reconstruction surgery, it is important to feel and work through every frustration. From the unwelcome reality of the changes your body will endure, to accepting the time it takes to heal after surgery and the limitations you will encounter while recovering, feeling and expressing your frustrations and sadness is important. Some pain medications, especially opiates, can cause depression as well, so it is important to take your medication as prescribed after surgery.
If you, or a close loved one, feel you may be suffering from depression, it is important to seek help from a professional.
You are not alone is this expedition through breast reconstruction. Stay positive, seek help if you need it, and know your breast cancer sisters are behind you all the way.
In closing, and in remembering the late Robin Williams, I leave you with this quote:
“You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to.” --Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting