Every one of us will feel stressed at times. Looming deadlines, financial pressures and the day-to-day demands of a busy modern life thrust various doses of stress upon us daily, but, built to withstand small amounts of pressure, we can generally make a few adjustments to compensate for the added strain and get on with it.
I have always been aware that chronic anxiety and depression are debilitating disorders affecting many, many people at various stages of life, yet until diagnosed with Breast Cancer late last year, I had never personally experienced the kind of deep-seated stress, anxiety or gut-wrenching fear that usually accompanies major trauma or a threat to one’s life. It leaves you gasping for air.
The shock of hearing I had cancer, having to quickly prepare for surgery and then line up for each chemotherapy treatment evoked feelings in me so intense I felt as though my brain had short-circuited somehow, that my responses to this new stress in my life were purely instinctive and I was powerless to control them. It has been the most mentally and physically exhausting experience of my life. At times I haven’t been able to eat, sleep or switch off the pain.
Over time, I have managed to take hold of my fear somewhat, and curtail the extreme panic when it sets in. I have come to realise how powerful my brain is in affecting my physical and emotional wellbeing, and that while I can’t remove the fear entirely, it is possible to exert control over my thoughts and minimise my body’s physical response.
I don’t always get it right. I’m not always able to stop the tears, or break the cycle of fearful thoughts, but I think I am making a bit of progress. Certainly I am sleeping better at night, having fewer creepy nightmares involving screaming heads, and more days spent smiling at the sun.
I wrote a piece recently about my experiences living with Cancer-induced anxiety and the quest I’ve been on to reclaim control over my brain. Today it was TOTALLY PUBLISHED YOU GUYS(!) in an online publication called Cancer Knowledge Network. I’m so stoked!
If you’d like to read about how I have tried to reinstate more ZEN into my life, here’s the link:
If you know anyone experiencing a similar struggle right now, offer to accompany them on a walk, or out for coffee, or perhaps a Ryan Gosling movie on the couch. You could share my little article with them too. Either way they will know you care, and that’s what really counts.