Our Mental Health Is At Stake!

Which is why it is so important to change the way we think about things. Throughout my posts I settle on one recurring message for breast cancer patients. I believe it is critical for survival to have HOPE. When all personal power seems lost, there is a refuge we can control. HOPE will give you back the belief in your quality of life no matter your prognosis. The power to HOPE starts with our thoughts, behavior, and feelings. Each influences the other, producing the ability to HOPE.

Feeling Overwhelmed

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Feeling hopeless
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Not understanding all the medical terms used
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Wondering if you are going to live
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How will this diagnosis impact your life? (family role, work role, social role)
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Sudden life change to include doctor visits, surgeries, and scans

Anger, Guilt, Blame

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These feelings may stem from fear, frustration, anxiety, and helplessness
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How could this happen when you led a healthy lifestyle
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When cancer is diagnosed late, patients often blame themselves
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Patients often feel guilt for placing their family & friends into such a distressing time

Stress, Fear, & Anxiety

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Feeling pain from procedures
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Experiencing panics attacks due to fear
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Sleeping too much or too little
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Finding it hard to concentrate
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Feeling sick to your stomach or having diarrhea

Sadness and Depression

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Mourning of pre-cancerous life
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Change of all future life plans

**If you have lost the motivation to do things that once gave you pleasure, please speak a counselor. You may be experiencing depression.

Loneliness

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Friends have abandoned you
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Feeling isolated
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Family & friends cannot understand or have trouble coping with your diagnosis
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You cannot socialize with others the way you used to

Confronting these very real, yet mostly common negative thoughts is to employ tools from your tool kit. Another tool is cognitive reframing or simply mental reframing. This method is one used by Cognitive Behavioral Therapists of which I am one. To battle my stage IV breast cancer, I employed tools I used to give to clients to get better. With practice, CBT can help you reframe your thoughts instantly.

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How To Reframe Step-By-Step

Step 1: Identify the negative thoughts that increase stress levels (cognitive distortions)

Step 2: Replace negative thoughts with a positive word or thought

Step 3: When a negative thought enters you mind, immediately say out loud “STOP!”

Step 3 con’td.: You can also put a rubber band around your wrist and give yourself a “pop” to stop and replace this intrusive thought

Step 4: Change problematic thinking patterns by replacing them with a positive word or memory that will reduce your stress to help you live a constructive and optimistic life

Positive Thinking Changes Your Thoughts, Behavior, and Feelings