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Breast cancer

Affected by breast cancer? Join this group to share experiences and ask questions to people who understand what you're going through.

Breast cancer & mental health

Polar Bear
Posted by

Hi

I’ve very recently had a mastectomy and waiting to hear what treatment I will need going forward. I’m finding it a bit of a roller coaster emotionally. I expected the tears, fears etc after the op but I’m also managing a diagnosis of bipolar.

Has anyone else who’s being treated for breast cancer struggling with their moods? Do you have any tips/coping skills that you could share?

I manage the bipolar with medication, psychological therapy, support from friends and family. Many of the coping skills that I’ve used in the past for depression are very helpful in dealing with the emotional trauma of breast cancer. But at the end of the day we are all trying to keep on top of our mental health. I’d love to hear how people are generally dealing with the trauma of breast cancer.

Love and best wishes

Polar Bear
lesleyhelen
Posted by

HI

I'm sorry to hear your coping with bipolar and breast cancer.  I found it hard enough to cope emotionally at the time without having other issues too.  Covid -19 on top of everything is just the icing on the cake for people diagnosed at this time as well! 

I have a little book of calm that I used daily and worked on the principal of taking everything one day at a time.  

Hopefully, other ladies will pop onto this thread and give their coping techniques too.

Best wishes,

Lesley x

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Yorkshire_defector
Posted by

Hi, I really found that exercise (just walking and cycling when I could) and eating well really helped my positivity during treatment, and still is having finished short-term treatments. Also just getting out of the house regularly to experience nature really helps.

I haven't experienced mental health issues in the same way as you have but don't think I would have been able to be so upbeat without the above so hope this helps.

Sam

My secret? Being daft & staying positive.
Polar Bear
Posted by

Hi, thanks for that. I’m glad you mentioned exercise. I know walking is very good for both physical and mental health, Exercise is always the last coping skill I get to when I’m low, and I know this is stupid but I need to be motivated enough to do it, if you know what I mean.

I had just returned to work one month before lockdown having had 6 months off recovering from depression and a change in medication. (previous meds gave me chronic kidney disease). I sound like a real wuss! I was working from home for a few weeks, then the cancer struck. I have always self-managed my bipolar with the help of meds and support and only been hospitalised once back in the 80s. I think I cope pretty well, but I know I need serious motivation re exercise.

By just mentioning that you benefit from walking etc is somehow easier for me to take on board. Thanks for the post. x

Polar Bear
OscarTheCatgotmehere

Hello Polar Bear,

  Sorry to hear you are struggling at the moment.If you research breast cancer and survivorship you will hopefully find the incentive to exercise.Walking in green spaces is one of the best.I exercise everyday but really had to push myself in the winter months.Sometimes I just put on music and jump around or get stuck into the garden,I even do yoga in bed.Every little helps.

Best wishes,

 Yviex 

Rita59
Posted by

Hi

such a tough time at the moment, I have suffered with anxiety for many years, I had mastectomy in June 2019 and my anxiety went through the roof. Also suffered with depression for many years, I have kind of learnt to live with these feelings etc, being told you have breast cancer is tough let alone dealing with the other problems. I do meditation and read up a lot about mindfulness and ended up studying them at diploma level and that helped me a lot. I am a mental health nurse so you think I would know what to do , but having the cancer and anxiety was tough. Yoga is good to for physical and mental well being, try to out and find what helps you, your not on your own, this group is great and will give you plenty of support. 

take care and keep us updated on your progress

Rita

Rita
Yorkshire_defector
Posted by

Hi again ,

Glad to be of use! It may be of interest (and sorry I have no idea of the website), and doesn't account for your history (am obviously no Doctor!) but there have been studies that show a link between cancer & depression, not only after diagnosis but before - something about the cells in your body trying to deal with the cancer so depleting whichever parts of your head deal with emotions and therefore can cause depression.  Given your challenges just thought you may be interested.

And be kind to yourself - you are not & don't sound like a wuss.  I can't imagine anyone going through what you/we all are (or have been) to ever be anything but fabulous quite frankly...so there!

Am not all together sure what motivates me re exercise, perhaps its a mixture of the endorphins (gives me energy, makes me extra annoying & optimistic - always a good combo) and the fact that I have a chance of fitting into the smaller sizes within my wardrobe....am sure and do hope you'll find something.

Walking is really good exercise that can get overlooked, and, if you're ER+ like me is a good weight bearing exercise that can help prevent osteoporosis. Good walking!

Sam

My secret? Being daft & staying positive.
Galligirl
Posted by

It is hard....

I have struggled mentally to cope with the diagnosis and, now, recovery. There is no simple solution. We are all different. I find being outdoors and active helps me....but I am 2 years post diagnosis and it takes time to build up your strength and mental perseverance, in order to benefit. Now, 2 years on, I feel so much better and able to cope. Yes I have down days, days filled with fear and worry, but as time passes I have started to feel more positive, and the future seems more doable....more accessible....

To you guys, it is hard to give advice. We all cope in different ways and all those ways are very real to each of us....I would say....don’t rush, try to stay optimistic and keep talking.....these chat rooms give us an opportunity to open up without being judged. Take advantage of that, these friends really do want to help....just ask.

GGx
Polar Bear
Posted by

Thank you.  The connection between depression and cancer is v interesting. I’ll take a look online. I know often it’s difficult to find reliable sources for this kind of info. 
I really appreciate your email.

best wishes

Polar Bear
Polar Bear
Posted by

Yoga in bed! That sounds like a great idea!

thanks for the respons

best wishes

Polar Bear
Polar Bear
Posted by

Hi Rita

thanks for this. I work in an acute mental health hospital with OTs but not in a clinical role. There are so many ways to help you cope but as you say it’s difficult finding your own way. I feel that I should be starting to put together a tool box of skills & I know it’s still early days. That feeling that I ‘should’ be say, exercising only adds to the anxiety but I know it will happen when I’m ready.

take care & thank you

Polar Bear
Polar Bear
Posted by

Thank you. I see that I have to be patient. I expect to be here for the long haul! 
thanjs for the advice. Much appreciated. X

Polar Bear
Dreamthief
Posted by

Morning 

I'm sure there is definitely a connection between the two - Poor physical health can cause mental illnesses, so it follows that mental health issues can if not recognised and treated cause physical health problems.

The number of people here who were diagnosed within a few months of some form of highly emotional upset is very high. Be that divorce, death in the family or something else that just tipped them over the edge; creating a chink in the armour that allows cancer a way in when you are at your lowest :-/

I always wonder if dormant rogue cells are something we are all born with and all it needs is a 'perfect storm' trigger to wake one up ?

Take Care Polar Bear   Best Wishes Funky Fishes   G n' J

Polar Bear
Posted by

Hi Dreamthief

i think both physical and mental health are connected but which one comes first is a big question. From my own experience everybody has mental health issues occasionally, in the same way that we all get colds. Events can trigger a physical response especially if your health is interrupted by poor sleep and you get run down. In the same way, events can trigger say, anxiety following an event. Then there are serious mental illnesses that are often a result of a mixture of genes, nurture and nature. Sometimes there are no triggers and it’s all down to brain chemistry. I suppose you could compare these to chronic Physical illnesses. I find it hard to understand why there isn’t a ‘holistic’ approach to medicine but I suppose that will come in time. The bottom line is we all need to look after ourselves. Eat well, sleep well, keep moving. 

x

Polar Bear
Galligirl
Posted by

I also got a Fitbit after my treatment - small targets but it helped motivate me ‘just to do a few extra steps’ ....it continues to support me now.

GGx