Melanoma and Anxiety
Melanoma gives me anxiety. In my worst moments, when I am stressed by other things or when I am tired, it really taxes me. I know that people have it a lot worse than I have it. I know that I have been blessed beyond belief, but still somewhere deep down, I worry.
I don’t like that I get anxious. I don’t like the fear and worry that this brings. I just know that it is there. Having had blood clots in my lungs and legs at an early age has not helped the matter. So, what do I do with this?
Melanoma anxiety coping tips
Before I give you my thoughts I would like to reference a nice little article from the American Academy of Dermatology.1 The article gives some great food for thought in how to cope with melanoma and the destructive forces of anxiety that can survive its diagnosis and treatment.
- Get emotional support. Find someone with which to talk or chat. Engage others on SkinCancer.net and find a community that cares.
- Try to stay positive. Appreciate the good things in your life. Love others.
- Get a massage. Take a mental health day and pamper yourself.
- Try mind-body therapies, such as yoga, meditation and prayer.
- Find the best dermatologist for you. Find someone who you feel genuinely cares about how you are feeling and doing.
- Continue to practice good skin care. Avoid harmful UV rays.
- Check your skin and follow up whenever you suspect something is not right.
My thoughts on coping with melanoma anxiety
Okay, I can get behind those recommendations. They make sense. We all find peace of mind in different ways, and many of these are things I have done and they have helped.
However, I would like to add something that helps redirect the negative energy and emotions associated with anxiety. I like to channel destructive thoughts into positive action. I try and let anxiety be the driving force behind my advocacy efforts.
Sometimes in my myopic state, I need to change the narrative and focus outward to help others. When I feel anxious or worried, I stop and collect myself and think about how I can redirect my efforts to help others who have had a difficult diagnosis or are suffering in some way, especially with regard to skin cancer. I find renewed purpose in supporting others and the funny thing is that, in turn, I feel blessed. When I give to others, I find the return many times over.
Hitting the brakes when needed
At times in the process of helping others, I need to be aware of what is called “secondary trauma”. This is where I bear so much of the burden of others that I actually experience its traumatic effects myself. That’s when I hit the brakes and go back to many of the recommendations listed above.
At the end of the day, I find comfort in comforting others. The therapeutic effect of service cannot be minimized and my worries seem to flutter away.
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?