Are "the sads" about your cancer creeping in, bud? You don’t have to be brave about it.
Repeat after us: “Depression is not a dirty word.” (Not that we’re above using dirty words from time to time...) It’s a common side effect of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and it’s okay to talk about it.
Before we dive in, though, there’s something you should know:
This is not professional medical advice. Your friends at buddhi are here to comfort you, and we want to normalize all of the feelings that occur alongside cancer. However, we are not medical professionals, and encourage you to speak with your healthcare team and support system if you’re feeling down.
The emotions you have about your cancer will change from day to day.
Data from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute indicates that these are the most common negative emotions after cancer:
Fear that the cancer will come back
Memory and concentration difficulties
Frustration or embarrassment about changes in your body
Note: They may also pop up during treatment, too!
Please, don’t suppress your sadness, bud.
According to Emily Weaver at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, “It's normal for cancer patients to experience sadness and grief for a variety of reasons, such as changes in life plans, changes in self-esteem and body image, disruption of social roles, financial challenges, and end-of-life issues.
As you experience these changes and challenges, it's important to monitor the feelings that you're experiencing to ensure that they are not impacting your day-to-day life or interfering with your medical care.”
We know that cancer patients and “survivors” often feel a certain obligation to put on a strong exterior to the rest of the world. And, guess what? It’s bullshit. You’re putting so much energy into getting well. You don’t need to spend even more of this precious finite resource on convincing others that you’re okay when you’re not.
We know it’s cliche, but… It’s okay to not be okay.
If you’re experiencing troubling emotions about cancer, like depression or sadness, sometimes it helps to remember that this too shall pass. It’s a horrible feeling to not have the energy to get out of bed in the morning or to fake a smile every time someone asks how you’re doing. However, it’s a temporary feeling with the right care.
How do you know when to seek professional care for cancer-related depression?
Have you noticed a disruption in your day-to-day activities? Have you experienced at least one of the following symptoms of depression for more than two weeks?
Feeling sad most of the time
Loss of pleasure and interest in activities you used to enjoy
Changes in eating and sleeping habits
Slow physical and mental responses
Feeling guilt for no reason
Decreased concentration ability
Thoughts of death or suicide
If so, Weaver says, it’s time to “speak with your doctor. He or she can help determine the cause of these issues and plan further treatment, if necessary.”
A few tips from the buddhi team before we go:
If you’re struggling, try to add some activities to your day that typically “spark joy” for you. Monitor your feelings. If you’re feeling apathetic, that could be a red flag.
Celebrate baby steps forward. Did you get out of your pajamas for the first time in a week today? That’s a win worth feeling proud of.