Community Shares: Recent Anxiety Levels
Nothing in the last decade has so suddenly impacted the entire world as COVID-19 has. For those in the community living with advanced breast cancer, this event comes with its own ups and downs when it comes to anxiety.
To hear more about your experiences and how you are handling the quarantine and beyond, we reached out on the AdvancedBreastCancer.net Facebook page to ask: “How has your anxiety level changed in the last couple of weeks?”
More than 40 of you commented, and here is what you had to say.
Stress and anxiety levels with advanced breast cancer
COVID-19 has been a wrench in many people’s lives, between losing jobs and facing the fear of possibly getting the virus. It makes sense that job stress, money stress, health stress, and emotional stress can snowball. If you are feeling scared, grumpy, grouchy, or lonely, know that you are not alone. This is an incredibly tough time for many. What can help is a connection, whether it is a phone or zoom call with a loved one or a chat on the AdvancedBreastCancer.com community page. We all may need to vent and be heard now more than ever.
“Mine has increased as I was furloughed from job one. So, the two part-time gigs are working the frontlines. It is unimaginable.”
“It seems to be increasing. The longer we are cooped up, the more anxious (and grouchy) I am getting.”
Plans have changed
One of the hardest parts of COVID-19 is the halt of travel. Most people, especially those dealing with a diagnosis, are not eager or able to travel, which means vacations and getaways have been canceled. When vacations are taken away, it can seem like we are working just to work. One way around this is to day trip somewhere local — perhaps to a walking trail, riverside, scenic overlook, or another highlight that might be nice for some exercise or a picnic. It will not be the same as your planned vacation, but doing something different will still give you that feeling of "escapism."
“Majorly. Especially as more and more things I was looking forward to this year have been canceled. Without things to hope for, or tangible goals, mental health becomes darker.”
“Not really anxious, but I have been sadder since I had travel plans for April, May, June, July, and September. All were canceled. So little to look forward to until this is quarantine is over.”
“It is not so much anxiety as paranoia.”
It can make sense to be on high alert right now, considering that people with a cancer diagnosis face a greater risk of infection. Now is the time to call on friends for help if you need it. Whether it is assistance with grocery shopping or other errands, or if you just want a friend to come over for a socially distanced chat, it is OK to ask.
“Skyrocketing! It is not so much anxiety as paranoia, unfortunately. I treat everyone as if they have the virus and I do not want to be infected. No, I do not go out, but I do take walks to ease my mind a little.”
For some in the community, this has been a time of decreased anxiety simply because a lockdown or shelter-in-place means more time with your loved ones, whether that is your partner or your children. Spending time with family is uplifting emotionally, especially when your family members make themselves available to comfort you. Plus, many of you are busier than you were before, and the business of added meal preparation or schooling at home has been a welcome distraction.
“My anxiety level has decreased greatly. My husband and I are empty-nesters. His boss arranged for him to work from home during this whole COVID thing. He has been home with me since March 19th. I love just having him in the house with me. Not being alone has helped me greatly.”
“My anxiety has been pretty steady. Having the boys at home and taking responsibility for their schooling has definitely kept me busy, so I have a lot less time to worry or even watch the news. That has been good as much as it has been exhausting.”
Managing and making the most of the current environment
Many of you are taking this situation in stride. You have accepted there is nothing you can do to alter the course of the virus, so you are doing what you can for your own physical and emotional wellbeing. This may mean more time in your backyard or on your patio, more walks, more time with your partner, and, overall, devoting more time to the things that bring you joy and peace.
“There is definitely this undercurrent of anxiety. I am managing and have mostly good days.”
“No increased anxiety for me. Just dealing with the fact that I have had to reschedule doctor visits.”
We want to say thank you to everyone who answered. We appreciate your willingness to share your experiences with the community.
Do you feel like your metastatic breast cancer is under control?