Pissed Off About Your Diagnosis? Great News: It's Normal!
There are so many survivor stories lighting up social media, many of them filled with people finding joy against all odds after diagnosis. It’s easy to feel like a Negative Nancy if you're not jumping for joy, too. Before you go beating yourself up for feeling that way, please hear us when we say: WE FEEL YOU.
Whether you’re in treatment, remission, or any stage in between, emotions can run the gamut when it comes to coping with cancer. There’s no wrong way to feel. There are, however, some “wrong” (by that we really mean unhealthy) ways to cope with your anger and other negative emotions. Don't be that guy blowing up on the poor parking attendant at the hospital. We've got better ways for you to blow off steam.
We get it. Cancer SUCKS. Coping is HARD.
It came into your life like a wrecking ball, and replaced your best laid plans with needles, neutrophil counts, and sympathetic stares. Not fun. It's no wonder we want to lash out.
“If you’re not sometimes angry, fearful or sad that you have cancer, then there really is something wrong with you,” says David Spiegel, MD, a psychiatrist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Your whole perspective on life probably changed the minute the diagnosis was confirmed. With change, often, comes grief. You may feel grief for your old life. Grief for your prior mindset. Grief for your former freedom. Grief for your old body, and the trust you had in it to carry you through the next several decades. It’s okay to not be okay. You may also be grieving the “little” things you have to miss out on, because of a rigorous schedule of tests and treatment. Who wants to miss their kid’s championship soccer game or a best friend’s bachelorette party?!
The sense of loss associated with cancer is profound. And being angry at those losses-big or small- is expected. Anger is the second stage of grief, but it can pop up at any time. Whatever you’re feeling, whenever you’re feeling it, don’t be afraid to own it. In our experience, it’s pretty damn cathartic to let it all hang out once in a while.
Here are some things that may help you through cancer rage without causing further damage to your body and mind.
It tops our list, because it works. Period. There’s no shame in enlisting the help of a few professionals. You’re already doing it for your physical health, so why not your mental health? We like Talkspace, because it allows you to access support anytime and anywhere. Coping with a cancer diagnosis doesn’t end just because your weekly session did!
If you'd rather not talk to a professional, that's okay too. Sometimes, we feel like screaming into a pillow at the top of our lungs. Whatever works for you, bud!