Big Black Bird: what depression after a cancer diagnosis feels like

Jeff Simmermon, a fellow cancer survivor, did a beautiful monologue about his experience of the emotional and psychological pain and shock that follows a cancer diagnosis. I know them feels, bro. Jeff explains:

This is a video of a story that I told to win a Moth GrandSLAM here in New York City in March. It's about how a cancer diagnosis makes all the dumb shit rattling around in someone else's skull fly out of their mouths -- and how coping with the depression and PTSD that comes from the treatment can be as bad as the disease itself. Also, I saw a couple of horrible human beings have a breakup in a CT scan waiting room.

I blogged an earlier version of the monologue, but this is an updated form. And it's always timely, particularly for newly diagnosed cancer patients reading this blog who believe the hell in their heads is something unique to them. It's not. You're not alone.

A graphic form of the story also appeared in the wonderful book, "Post-it Note Diaries: 20 Stories of Youthful Abandon, Embarrassing Mishaps, and Everyday Adventure."

Notable Replies

  1. Love the blast about.. "you should try x...". In my case it is usually some random book/author that the person wants to talk about. But I remind myself that neither of us know how to comfortably handle this situation, and that the person is really coming from a place of compassion and caring and that is what matters. I often feel like I'm the one giving the healing and grace.

    The worst part is having a room next to the nurses station and being woken up during the 6am shift change (after a terrible night of sleep anyway), to hear the 20 somethings discuss their wedding plans, pregnancies, and fabulous vacations they are going on.

  2. Made me think of the video "I Had a Black Dog"

    My experience is that the depression that comes from cancer drugs is different from other forms of depression; it actually feels chemical in nature, and thus impossible to overcome. I have found that I've had to fight fire with fire: taking more drugs to combat the side effects of the life-saving drugs.

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