Cancer PTSD

I’ve received a lot of letters from you guys thanking me for writing about my anxiety and my PTSD from cancer treatment.

My friend E (who is also going through cancer treatment) told me about how he was watching a movie that had a hospital scene in it. He started to feel “icky” and uncomfortable and didn’t know why and then he realized that he was being triggered by the hospital scene.

So what can you do when this happens? For me – if I can recognize and acknowledge that I’m being triggered by something. That helps dissipate the feeling for me.

Doing square breathing can help. I have this photo in my phone and I will use it as a guide to help me. Sometimes when I’m anxious I need something to focus on to do this exercise. If I don’t have this photo then I look around the room for something square and follow it with my eyes while I breath.

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I also do things like pretend the radiation machine is my friend.

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When the radiation techs leave me in the room alone and I’m lying under the machine I say “Hello machine” and then when it’s weird arms move around doing it’s zapping and I pretend that it’s hugging me and zapping me with love lasers. Ha ha.

I saw my therapist last Thursday and we talked a little about the trauma. We are going to start doing EMDR in the new year.

I’ve worked with her using this method on other trauma. It took me a little while to understand the process but once it clicks it worked really well for me.

But working on trauma is exhausting difficult work and the last thing I need right now is to feel more exhausted. So we are going to work on this once I’m done all my cancer treatment and I’ve had some time to heal from the radiation.

What kinds of things do you do to nurture yourself when you’re having anxiety?

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