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This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so today we want to talk openly about mental health. Unfortunately, mental health problems are still a subject that many people find difficult to address – there is often much more of a stigma than with physical illness.
But mental health problems affect one in four people every year – and they are a very real issue for many people affected by cancer.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the emotional impact is huge, and it’s not surprising that it can affect your mental health. And, when treatment ends, the effects can continue – mental health problems are one of the most common long-term consequences of cancer. Macmillan research shows that 240,000 people are currently living with mental health problems after cancer, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To show people they aren’t alone in struggling, we’ve rounded up some recent quotes and discussions from the Online Community on the subject of mental health and coping with your emotions.
Hiloa on counselling: “I was told by a good friend who is a psychologist that I had to go to at least 4 sessions of counselling before I decided whether to continue or stop. She said firstly it can make things feel worse before they feel better because you take the lid off all the emotions you have been keeping in check as best you can and that is quite a thing to do and secondly that it can take that long to decide if a particular counsellor is for you.
“It was wise advice. After the first session I never wanted to go back and thought the counsellor was not right for me at all. I felt exhausted completely drained and spent most of the next two days in tears. But I stuck with it as she told me to. After a few more sessions I gained respect for my counsellor, he helped me see myself and my situation differently and I gained a lot from the session.”
Always17 on mindfulness meditation: “It’s is a wonderful thing, I would recommend to everyone.
“It is so easy to practice and how I wish I had known about it years ago. [...] I’ll bet you are also mindful when out in the garden or walking the dog, being aware of your surroundings and the beauty and simplicity. I know my dog walks are much more enjoyable now because of it. It can be practiced anywhere, I have even been known to take a three minute breathing space at my desk.”
Jakk48 on yoga: “I am halfway through 6 months of chemo and find that I am at my least anxious after a session of yoga. The relaxation at the end helps me to focus of breathing and teaches techniques to put worries to one side, not to forget them but to deal with later.”
Butterfly 2212 on reiki: “I have reiki. It’s lovely and it helps me to sleep.”
Post-diagnosis depression – myeloma group
I feel like I am going to explode – The Room
Low mood/down days – breast cancer group
Still so traumatised – bereaved families and friends group
Feelings post-treatment – breast cancer group
Mood swings – bowel cancer group
Anxiety – life after cancer group
Counselling – Carers Only group
Mindfullness – breast cancer group
Meditation – emotional issues group
Stress relief and being good to yourself – breast cancer group
Antidepressants – breast cancer group
Macmillan – Dealing with your emotions
Macmillan – Coping with depression
Mind – practical guides for day-to-day mental well-being
Have you struggled with mental health problems as a cancer patient, carer or bereaved person? How have you coped? Let us know in the comments below.
Read more on our Community News Blog.
Join our Online Community to talk to other people affected by cancer.
I had secondary breast cancer, my problem is from day one I had to be the strong one in my family and even now this minute as I am writing this I am finding it difficult to hold myself from crying in front of my family. I had finished my treatments 9th June 2014. But recently I only sleep for couple of hours and Iwake up crying silently so my husband cant hear.My problem is I cant open to Dr`s as I am always accompanied by my family so I always put a smiley face and say I am fine but inside I am crying Help what could I do am I being silly.
I'm so sorry to hear about how sad you are feeling, and that you don't feel able to share this with your family. Have you thought about telling your husband or other family members how you feel, so that they can support you?
If you don't want to do this, perhaps you could try talking to your doctor without your family present? They may be able to refer you to some counselling or other support.
Or, you could also give the Macmillan team a call on our Support Line - they are here to listen if you need someone you can talk to honestly. It's 0808 808 0000, Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm, free from landlines and most mobile networks. If you would prefer to email them, you can do that by filling in the Ask Macmillan form.
And of course, please feel free to keep posting in your Online Community groups - this is a place to be open and honest, without worrying about upsetting people, and there are other members here who will understand how you are feeling.
Hi... my mum has stage 4 esphogus cancer...shes had 6 rounds of chemo..... shes currently on a break...her eating has gone down hill(even on steroids)... she is basically wasting away..... her mental state is really worrying....my dad is beside himself...dont know what more any of us can do.....
I am a 43 year old single mother of 3 wonderful daughters . This is the 3rd time I've been diagnosed with cancer . In 2006 I was diagnosed with cervical and uterine cancer, Stage 1. I had both removed at the time . On April 4th of 2016 I went to my doctor and had to have an ultrasound guided biopsy to determine ifthe mass I had found myself was cancer. I had already had a 3D mammogram and they seemed very concerned and we're in fact the ones who ordered the biopsy . So on the 4th I had the biopsy and was to return to the doctor on April 8th for the results . Deep down in already knew the answer. My doctor , who is very compassionate , called me into her office rather than the exam room. She said, "I wish I could give you different results , but you've got Breast Cancer " at that time the tumor was only 1.1 cm and Stage 1... By the time they did the surgery it was 9.5cm and Stage 3.. This was not supposed to be no aggressive or fast growing type of cancer, but reacts the opposite in me because it feeds off of the estrogen not my body. Now I have no breast , no hair, and feel completely alone. I can't work because I do In-Home Healthcare ND disability says that Stage 3 isn't everest enough. So I also now have no income . Thankfully you parents provide for my children . What amakes I supposed to do for an income ? How do I vote with the mental and emotional state of mind ?
My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer in November we still don't know witch cancer it is and still no treatment she was a big lady now a size 10 lost lots of wait she has been taken curcumin supplements we hope and wish that can help in any way she told to tonight she has put a little bit of weight on is that a good sign???
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