A topic we like to avoid but we experience constantly, emotions. Happy, sad, anger and fear are our basic emotions. Our emotions create physical sensations in our bodies and thoughts in our minds. Cancer creates a wide range of emotions which are often intense. In this blog I’m going to explore anger and will explore some of the emotions cancer creates in future blogs.
Anger is an emotion we all experience and has a spectrum ranging from irritation to rage. Triggers for anger will be different for us all as will our behaviour when we are angry. Anger has acquired an unsavoury reputation however, anger tells us something is wrong and we need to take action and provides us with a surge of energy to do so.
I was angry when I had cancer. The list of things I was angry about was endless. I was angry at having cancer. I was angry at being a cancer patient. I was angry at having cancer while I was pregnant. I was angry at being seen as a victim. I was angry at not being able to do the things I wanted to. I was angry about having to have treatment for cancer. I was angry at the days I spent having hospital appointments. I was angry at having to wait for hospital appointments. I was angry because I might die from cancer. I was angry at what cancer took. I was angry that I lost the enjoyment of my pregnancy. I was angry at not having the idyllic post birth bonding time. I was angry I was isolated. I was angry cancer changed how I looked. I was angry half my left breast was cut off. I was angry at my lack of choice. I was angry when test results weren’t available. I was angry that people didn’t understand what I was going through. I was angry people couldn’t solve cancer for me. I was angry I was angry.
Buried beneath my anger was sadness and fear. I was sad at what I had lost and scared I would die before my children were old enough to remember me.
I had no idea how or where to express my anger and so I carried a boiling cauldron of anger around with me until I broke. The unexpressed anger eventually turned into depression and I got to the point I was unable to function. Overtime and through counselling and mindfulness I was able to recognise, acknowledge, understand and express my anger. I now have a much healthier relationship with anger. I know my triggers and recognise the familiar fire sensation beginning in my chest.
I have made peace with the anger I experienced while I had cancer. When I look back my anger served me well. My anger got me through cancer. My anger told me how desperately awful my situation was. My anger gave me the energy to keep going no matter how difficult life was. My anger drove me to have each treatment and appointment and to give myself the best chance of living. My anger drove me to seek the help I needed and to create change in my life and to help others who also have cancer.
Did you experience anger during cancer? What were you angry about? How did you recognise your anger? How did you express your anger? Did you ask for support around your anger?