Being able to maintain your emotional health during this time is trial and error. We know that in light of everything going on and the amount of support we receive we should be grateful, but the only thing on our mind is if it’s going to work, is it worth it, how do we survive this, what happens after, what will my scans read. There are so many things that go through our mind on a daily basis that we just don’t know how to cope sometimes.
It’s understandable, I mean we had a life before this and now we have been subjected to the outside world as “the person with cancer”. While they don’t say it in vain it still rubs us the wrong way because now we have a stigma attached to us that we never asked for. So how do we keep a level head while going through all of these new changes within our mind, our social life, and our body? How do we remain on a positive path that will continue to promote healthy interactions throughout our life?
Here are a few ways that I was able to cope throughout my treatment:
1) Seek Help | Take Action – Therapy is a great way to just let it all out. My therapist allowed me to say whatever I want whenever I wanted. He didn’t look at me as weak he looked at me as an equal. He expressed his own personal struggles and allowed me to relate them to mine. He showed me that I wasn’t in this alone, although I knew that, it felt good to be reminded. He told me that my thoughts were normal and in a time of complete disdain for myself, he made me feel as though I was strong because I was able to cry and tell him how I felt.
When I was first diagnosed I felt like I should bottle up my emotions and keep my thoughts to myself for the sake of my loved ones. I didn’t want anyone to see that I was hurting or scared because then they would hurt and be scared as well. I felt like I had to be strong because there was no other option. I never allowed myself to feel vulnerable until I got a therapist. This was my breakthrough because I learned how to be strong through action.
2) Gain a Hobby – Throughout my cancer journey I had already had a love for the arts, and it grew when I was in the hospital. I was able to paint, draw, and create new things that had a deeper meaning to me. It took my mind off of what was going on around me and made me feel more powerful than ever. I gained skills that I didn’t have before and was able to focus on growing those skills because of the amount of energy I put into it.
My emotional health flourished once I started practicing a new hobby. I also enrolled in online classes and received my Master’s Degree. It was a way for me to stay disciplined and focused through a time of constant struggle. Every time that I wanted to give up, I just focused on school and my new found hobby. It kept me a float and finding something to occupy your mind on can help you as well.
3) Programming – If you are a social butterfly, invest in programming. This is when you can volunteer, do public speaking, and work with non-profits to help those around you. Become a mentor and activist for your trial and tribulations. Be the change you wish to seek. Help promote causes for cancer research. Help fight the battle of depression within the AYA community. There are so many ways that you can be involved and keep your mind off of your own personal struggle. Sometimes it’s best to take a break and realize that no matter what we are encountering, there is always someone that needs to hear our story.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to keep a level head throughout this process that’s why I said it’s trial and error. But the importance of finding what works for you is being able to try new things. This is a turning point in your life, that’s one thing we can agree on, but it doesn’t mean your life is turning down.