Facing Uncertainty with Multiple Myeloma
Understanding stress, feelings of anxiety, depression, loss of things in your life is completely and utterly normal. When handling the news of a diagnosis, relapse, treatment changes or lack of response to treatments, thoughts can turn down a path of uncertainty in life, doctors, and isolation.
These past few months as a fitness chapter we have talked about mental health and taking care of your mental health through hard times. There are different means to facing those feelings, we had the privilege of hearing from Susan Ash-Lee, MSW, LCSW, Vice President of Clinical Services and Education at the Cancer Support Community for our Fitness Chapter event this month. Through our discussion, so many feelings were validated, understood, and accepted as well as finding tools when faced with those feelings.
Going into the event I had questions about how to help refocus yourself when in the moment of those overwhelming thoughts and feelings. We mostly hear about how to reduce stress but not face it head-on and accept those feelings. When I asked that question what stood out to me was being ok with feeling your feelings, allowing yourself to accept them, and then find tools to move forward.
Your feelings, thoughts, or diagnosis are not who you are, they do not define you. It’s all part of the experience of life is living through the ups and downs and how to move forward from there. I love the reminder that though we may face depression, it’s that moment and at that moment it does not define who you are as a person. Trying to run from our feelings, thoughts or stress does not help it and can often make it a bigger issue.
With the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma or any disease really, it’s not the defining moment of your life. It may be a part of it and a big part, but it does not define who you are. You get to choose and define the legacy that you are living. Back in February, we had yogi and fellow MM warrior Jeff share his story and one thing that struck me so profound was “I have Multiple Myeloma, but it doesn’t have me.” Not being labeled by it has allowed him and others to have a mindset through it of acceptance but a strong fight.
Finding tools to help in moments of uncertainty, anxious feelings or depression can take on many forms, but many that were shared in our webinar include (but are not limited to):
- Going for a walk
- Spending time with loved ones
- Writing in a journal- specifically a gratitude journal
- Picking up a new hobby
- Planning a vacation- giving yourself something to look forward to
- Getting in exercise
- Watching a movie you love
- Spending time with pets
- Taking a bubble bath
- Positive Affirmations- post them around your house or repeat a mantra
- Support groups
We can arm ourselves daily by doing these tasks as a way to avoid feeling, but understanding it’s ok to feel the way you feel, but don’t stay there. Finding people who can relate and share with you can also help you feel validated in the process and support each other by lifting as you progress. I look forward to implementing these practices into my own life and be ok with feelings as long as I don’t let them drag me down.