Mental Meltdown after active treatment :(

Hi all, this is going to be a bit of a novel I fear but I really really need to offload away from friends and family.

I’ve finished surgery, chemo, rads and now on Tamoxifen.
I’ve been OK on Tamoxifen so I don’t think this is related but of course it could be.

I’m totally overwhelmed all of a sudden. I think I was fairly emotionally numb over the whole active treatment phase and seemingly, even to myself, coping emotionally well. I had a few blips emotionally but nothign major, despite some bad SEs.

All of a sudden, after I’ve finished all the visits to hospital and things, I’ve started to feel really emotionally unstable.
To be fair we have a lot going on. We’re renovating our attic, we’ve had our roof off and replaced and now we’re doing it up internally, well my OH is and I watch.

In the meantime my Stepdaughter who is 12 has come to live with us because of problems and we’re sleeping in our living room so she can have her room (2 bed house, 1 bed is being renovated).
She is fairly traumatised herself at the moment due to probs at her mums and I’ve been her vent point for her emotions, someone to talk to and to care for her.

And we’re living off £60 a week for 2 adults and now 1 child. Not claimed benefits for her yet as she could have changed her mind and wanted to go back to her mums. We’re now going to have to tell her mum we have to claim tax credits and benefit for her because we can’t cope financially and she has this idea in her head that we’re loaded.
This is probably going to cause a huge row and it’s hanging over me.

I just feel like everything is collapsing in on me after being so “strong” and “brave” and “inspirational” through treatment and I feel really alone with it.

I tried to talk to my OH about it last night, well, about the things I’d heard his daughter say about life at her mums, it was upsetting the hell out of me but I couldn’t show this in front of her as I want her to have someone she can openly talk to who isn’t reacting in horror so she clams up.
It had really really got to me hearing all this stuff, i start telling him and he flips and says he doesn’t want to hear about it because theres nothing he can do about it and it won’t change anything. I pointed out that is how I feel but he can do something about how I feel hearing this coming out of his daughters mouth, and that is to allow me to talk to him about it so I’m not keeping it all inside. He said “oh so you want to pass that burden on to me do you, thanks” and I said “WOAH… she’s you’re X*R()£ child”

I felt really really angry and upset with him, all I’m asking him to do is let me let some of my feelings out.

He did apologise later, but I do feel like I can’t speak to him.

this is the cherry on the cake now and I just feel really really lonely. I’m scared of recurrence, I’m scared of the stress doing me no good, I’m really tired and i’m not resting as I should, I feel bad for stepdaughter, I feel angry at mother, I feel angry at OH and I’m scared about my future. I’m also feeling guilty for those people who are living with secondaries, I’ve had primary and have an 86% chance of no recurrence so it feels very self indulgent.

I hate cancer and how insidious it is, it doesn’t just destroy our bodies, it can destroy our emotions, our relationships, our hope adn our future.

How black am I feel right now? Grief.

I don’t know what I’d do without this forum as a vent, really.

Oh El Katrano, you poor love, feeling like that. I’ve just pm’d you! xx

Hello El Katrano - first of all my deepest sympathy. I finished active treatment about 8 weeks ago, and I know exactly what you mean by meltdown. I didn’t have to have chemo, but all the angst of waiting, surgery, radiotherapy etc.

Two weeks after I finished Rads (just coming home from an end of treatment break) and my Dad was admitted to Oncology ward with bad side effects from rads for Prostate Cancer. He’s 87 and diabetic and then had a heart attack. At the moment my husband and I are doing 120 mile round trip almost every day trying to support him, my elderly mum, etc. etc.

I had vowed that this winter I would try to de-stress and like you I’m not coping well with the worries about recurrence (even though its unlikely), what the next mammogram will bring and most importantly will all this stress make it more likely it comes back.

I had a long chat with my GP last week - he was very supportive and said its absolutely normal reaction. You fight through all the treatment on adrenalin, and then suddenly its behind you. And I think, too, everyone around you thinks great you’re fine, lets get on, when in fact you’re body is still majorly recovering. My Oncologist did warn me that I wouldn’t feel 100% for a good six months after I finished treatment.

None of that helps I know, except to share your feelings - and offering you lots of sympathies. Be kind to yourself. You still have lots of healing to get through, emotional and physical. HOpe it helps to know you’re not alone in what you’re feeling.

Like you I too feel guilty that there are others worse off - don’t.


I can’t really help with any advice but why don’t you try ringing the hepline to talk to someone. Your post sounds really sad and upset.

Best wishes M


Oh El K, my heart bleeds for you… sorry if that sounds melodramatic.

I think the end of active treatment is disorientating even if there is nothing else going on for you, and clearly you have a basin full.

I had assumed, as I think lots of people do, that the end of treamtent would bring a sense of elation - but it didn’t, it all seemed rather flat. On top that, like lots of people I was (and still am) a bit paranoid about every twinge, ache, pain etc. Cancer is pernicious in a way I had never really grasped until it happened to me.

I am now five months after end of active treatment and life has settled down for me - hence my general decision not to post here anymore - but I still think about, and worry about, cancer every single day. I dream of the day I won’t, but it may never come :o(

You have so much on your plate right now, it’s small wonder you are low. This much I do detect, having followed your posts over recent months - you are one fiesty woman who faces head on what life deals, and deals with it brilliantly. Maybe like the swan you are paddling like crazy under the water, and maybe your inner swan is outwardly battered and bruised, but you are a strong woman.

I wish I had something practical to say… sometimes I feel I’m a cr*p rev-type person, but please be kind to yourself and give yourslef time to heal emotionally from all you’ve experienced, oh yes, and shout at me if it helps ;o)

Talking to helpline might be useful. Feel free to PM me any time.

(twitch, twitch, twitch… addiction… forum posters anon here I come)

Oh El K I’m so sorry to read this - hugs!

I also had a complete meltdown after active treatment finished, although I didn’t have to deal with the other stuff you are trying to cope with!

I found the Cancer Survivor’s Companion to be *hugely* helpful as well as talking to both my GP and the helpline. My GP put me on 20mg of Citalopram and that’s really helped too.

Thinking of you!

Nymeria xx

Hi El Kat

I was so sorry to read about your plight, it sounds like you’ve got the whole world on your shoulders. I think many people take so much on board and try to soldier on, there comes a point when you have to think of YOU, this is all about YOU and taking care of YOU. You need a very good friend to pour your heart out to, and let the tears flow, it shoulds like you have bottled everything up and taken the lid of and overwhelmed with emotions.

I was pretty much in the same place as you. My mum was diagnosed with bladder cancer and died in 2006, the same year I found out my partner was cheating on me and we broke up (more devastation) then my dad had Alzheimers and died in 2009, it was only after he died that tears of relief and pure emotion flooded, I thought I was going to die from crying so much.

Then this month I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer - I thought fcuk it you b’ted God why are you punishing me - what have I done to deserve all this heartache. If my boob wasn’t so sore I’d punch the hell out of it, I’ve gone through every human emotion possible, and now, after reading many comments on here, realise we have to fight out way through this and stay strong, even if we breakdown at the end of treatment, what the hell, why shouldn’t we breakdown and cry, let it all flood out! - then dust yourselves down and kick self up the arse and make the most of every day, whatever it brings! - we are still here, and enjoying our lives as best we can. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t feel the strong desire to live and enjoy our lives and make the most of each precious day.

A minute spend worrying is a minute less to seize the day!

Daysie x

It sounds like you are having a really hard time at the moment. You may find the following link helpful. It deals with the aftermath of cancer - what happens when all the active treatment is finished. It won’t help you with your family problems, but at least it will reassure you about your feelings re the cancer.

thanks all for your messages. Don’t feel like I can “talk” about this right now outloud with anyone, stranger or friend. I’m just coming to terms with it all I think, feel like I’m grieving I suppose. Being on here really helps, actually I can dip in and ignore when I want too without much guilt. I also probably need to allow myself to feel these feelings instead of trying to cope all the time, it’s obviously just storing up and needs to get out, it’s not healthy to bottle and bottle is it.

I do feel joyous that active treatment is finished and I was elated. What I didn’t think was that I’d be feeling like THIS right now but like I said, it’s not all cancer related and perhaps I’ve just got too much going on in one go for someone who really is in respite.

The attic being done we brought on ourselves, a mistake perhaps but it has given me a great focus. It’s only getting meltdown because of all the drama around my stepdaughter on top of it all and because we didn’t plan on her coming to live with us and I wouldn’t actually change that either tbh, it’s all just horrible timing.

I really like being able to come on here, with anonymity and hear other peoples experiences who are going through the same things in varying degrees.

I’m actually already on citralopram 20mg when i was diagnosed, I was already wavering on the brink of a meltdown due to fertility treatments etc so when I got diagnosis I went numb and my brain prob shut down to protect me. That seems to be how I react to traumatic things and deal with them. Numbness and humour.

the cancer survivors companion, I think i’ll go ebay that one as that may really help, i’ve heard of that before on here in the past.

thanks again all… this too shall pass!

I’m sorry if this reply doesn’t apply to you and doesn’t help you and I’m sorry that you are having such a sad and difficult time.

On a practical level, have you got the benefits you should get? I didn’t realise that I could get anything for being ill as I’ve never had to claim and don’t understand the complexities, but I ended up with something called Employment and Support Allowance of £99.85 per week. You have to have been working and paying NI, but if you have, then it is worth asking for. It can be backdated too. I just went to the local job centre and they gave me a phone number and it was all done over the phone with a letter from the Macmillan nurse to confirm diagnosis. It will continue to be paid until your doctor certifies that you are able to go back to work.


hi Annie - I’m clued right up on benefits, I dug around when diagnosed because we’d have been screwed without my income.
I’m getting the support element of ESA (contrib based) and my OH gets tax credits as his income is £16k. We’ve got all we can.
Now if my stepdaughter is going to live her permanently then we need to go through benefits again - more paperwork but needs must.
I don’t expect a penny off her Mum, just what we are entitled to via credits etc.
And I’ll find a job once I’ve recovered enough.

I think it’s all the uncertainity that’s driving me mad, i’m a natural control freak and its been a tough few years where theres not a lot I can DO.

IHi EK - so sorry to hear you are going through all this, on top of everything else. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you said “grief”… We are grieving for our health… for our appearance… our independence… our “pre-cancer” selves… our “get up and go”… our heightened mortality… and we feel vulnerable… and then, you have all the other things on TOP, like stressed step-daughter, money worries, row worries and not the support you’d like from your OH… as others have said - be gentle with yourself, and (if you can) talk to the helpline/GP/whoever… (OK, get the book first, we’ll let you!!!) Have another hug &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt; &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt; Jane

Thanks GIJane, blast from the past! You were around the same time as me.

No wonder I’ve had such a bad day, I need to also think of me too. I’ve had a good long chat with my stepdaughter and explained whats happening and if shes sure she wants to stay for good and how her Mum may react to this and she’s positive its what she wants. feeling a bit better knowing that she’s getting that this could potentially start up a big kick off and that we’ll try our best to shield her from it.

Bless her she didn’t want to go to Mums this weekend as last time she said she was going out for half an hour to the pub, then was gone 3 hours and she couldn’t contact her by phone! She was really scared being left alone at home and worried her Mum was passed out somewhere (her words, which suggests this has happened before because I said “Why has she done that before?” and she nodded and looked at the floor.) so I’ve told her if she does that again to call me or her dad and we’ll come and get her she shouldn’t be scared like that and at 12 shes not old enough to be left on her own late at night.

Our natural inclination is to have a right go at Mum but shes totally in denial about everything and to be fair, she’s always been an idiot but her daughter loved her and didn’t want to be with us as she kept believing her Mum would change, she’s now totally disillusioned. Theres no point in having a row as it’s not going to change anything. But god we want to, we really do. Mums always going “oh im having a hard time” - Errrm HELLO?

Hi El Kat

Can’t really add anything to the good advice you’ve already been given, but as you can never have too many hugs - have another one ((((((( HUG!! ))))))))

I’m now 5 weeks post rads and I know what you mean about being a bit flat! I’ve got one foot still in the waiting room - just need the results of an MRI to my ‘good’ boob, and that’s me done.


So sorry you are having this extra situation to deal with as well as trying to regain your health and strength.
Your step daughter is lucky to have you on her side, she must feel scared too.
Hopefully you’ve got someone you can turn to for support. Even we “copers” have to give in and lean on others sometimes.
Sending you positive vibes El K xxxx

El Kat

Sounds like you are coping amazingly well with everything that is going on tho’ I can imagine from your perspective it maybe doesn’t feel like it.

I think you need to give yourself time to come back to ‘normal’. That limbo feeling when treatment is over sounds scary. When treatment is ongoing I think there’s a sense of “There’s nothing I can do about it” or as my mate John said who’s been to leukemia hell and back “You give your body over to the medics for their experiments and then when they give you it back, you just get on with it the best you can until you find yourself again.”

Hope things work out for you all. Good luck

Laurie x

Hi El K, I remember months back when I was first diagnosed and took up residence on this forum, you was so nice to me when I went into a small meltdown.
At the moment it all feels like everything is against you but try to stay positive, a few months time you will look back on this as just a blip.
Step kids can be a blessing, I’ve got two, all grown up with their own families and its great.

Eunice x

Hi Kate,

Sorry you are going through such a bad time again. Never seems to stop for you does it.

What do I see when reading through this thread? I see you sorting things as you always do. Keep going, you will get there.

Well, you wanted a child and now you’ve got one, a bit older than you thought but someone to love who seems to trust you, and why not.

It’s obvious that your OH can’t cope at the moment, it’s just too much for him, well 3 women are a bit much for any man really. You are the strong one so just do as you always do and you will get there.

I am so glad you felt able to do the house as you wanted. It will be fab when it is finished.

Don’t normally send hugs but, what the heck, here is one for you.

E xxx

Thanks all for being there when I was having a meltdown. I’m feeling much better after that blip.
Still very stressed about everything going on around me but trying my best to bury my head in the sand about the house related nightmares. The stepdaughter ones are still an issue but all I can do is keep being there for her. My OH has since listened to me more and told me he does really appreciate me looking after her and being her ear. She has started calling me “my Kate” now, which is really really lovely.
I’m so cross with her Mother for being so selfish and blind, why bother having a child if you can’t be bothered with the effort? She’s not a doll, she’s a human being with emotions that are being messed with. Grrr.
I’m worried about her ever going back to her Mums now from all I’ve heard. My OH has had to ride the fence for that long now it’s second nature but this is one time where he really needs to stand firm and not be intimidated by his Ex.
Financially - My OH is claiming child tax credits and child benefit this week, Mother was trying to get him to take money off her rather than do benefits as she will lose her house if she goes back on benefits in december, her job is a rolling temp contract. But I’ve said that we shouldn’t get involved in bloomin’ frauding the government benefits, she is not worth that to us. So that’s going to cause a stink no doubt, but the issue is HERS not OURS. It’s HER fault her daughter doesn’t want to be with her due to her drinking and passing out etc. She’s not making it OUR fault if she loses her house!!!

PS. in the past 5 weeks of SD living with us we’ve had £20 out of Mum, when I asked her for help towards getting her a winter coat and shoes, all of which cost me £55. And I had to ask her twice!
I said “Just give me the child benefit money at least” and she said “Oh well that goes direct to the credit union” (I don’t care about her loan that she took out to go on holiday!!! I care about making sure her child is clothed and fed!)

All this “i’ll give you the credit money” - no offer of what this would be either. I’ve checked on what benefits we can get and it’s £80 a week for her. We took in SD for 4 months years back when mother got herself made homeless, not a BEAN out of her then either, we had no benefits for SD. We don’t want HER money, we just want what we are entitled to from the state, which she has always had!