Sunday, July 24, 2016

Managing All That Bad News

Recently the news has been dominated by all sorts of horrible headlines on all these tragedies (and politics). It can be very hard to take for everyone. I admit there have been so many events that every day on the news you hear about another one and you begin to wonder 'that really can't be another one, it must be the same one I already heard about'. Sometimes the media becomes a blur of blood, bias, guns, and gore. 

I recently found an article that discusses how to cope with all this bad news. The gist of it was 'turn off the news' which I find to be sound advice, especially if you want to preserve your sanity. 

"This constant churn of harrowing news is physically and psychologically unhealthy, and you don't need to be directly involved in a tragedy to feel its effects. To the concerned viewer, this pain can feel unavoidable or even necessary. It might be a little bit of both. The truth is, in an age of unfettered access to the worst of humanity, we have to act as our own gatekeepers if we want to stay sane."

It made me think that as a patient, I get a lot of bad news directed at me. And I often get the question 'how do you cope?'. 

Over the past nine years, I have learned to cope in my own way. When diagnosed with breast cancer, I quickly learned that I could not digest all the implications right away. It took time - time for the latest to sink into my brain. 

I started trying to learn all about my cancer and treatment options. I immediately went into information overload and my brain fizzled out. So I basically turned off my brain for anything past the stage of treatment I was in. I couldn't handle any more. While I was coping with surgery, I learned about surgery, post surgery, potential issues including lymphedema. Once I was through surgery, I learned about chemotherapy. I took it in stages so my brain could cope.

A big part of the trauma of cancer is coping emotionally. And that coping extends to outside issues as well. I can't live in the world of  'all bad health all the time' or 'all cancer all the time'. No one should live in the 'all bad news, all the time' mode. We can't keep our sanity and deal with all the doom and gloom. So turn off the news, go outside and smell the roses for a while.

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