Dana Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life, available at www.dragonflyangelsociety.com.
Is it possible to be addicted to the anxiety cancer brings? I have been living with that addiction for years but have three ways to combat an anxiety addiction.
I've thought about it and I think I am addicted to anxiety. I hate it, yet I crave it. I can't think straight unless I am worried about something. When I am not worried, I worry about that. It's not a great way to live, but it's the way my mind seems to work. I've always been a worrier but until I had cancer, I didn't realize how bad it was. The odd thing was I never truly worried about cancer until I actually received the diagnosis; then that became all I thought about.
If you are a survivor or know someone who is going through or has gone through cancer, you get the worry, the fears and the anxiety that a cancer diagnosis can bring. People say the worries are normal and they subside as the cancer diagnosis moves further into your past.
Not me. I tend to make it worse in my head. I am nine years out from my cancer diagnosis and the anxiety still lingers as if the doctor has just called me to tell me I have breast cancer. Why is that feeling so right at the edge of my mind all the time? My thought is I am addicted to that anxiety and it's what keeps me vigilant. I know that is far-fetched and quite fairly, not healthy. Being vigilant with our health is one thing. I take it to a whole other level. Any ache, pain, thought or fear of cancer and I am checking my body for lumps to the extreme.
So how does one combat this addiction to fear? Great question. I am still working on building that fear-busting playbook, but in the meantime, I've come up with a few ideas I've put to the test that seem to help combat the anxiety addiction.
Cancer brings with it so many different things you would never expect. Pain, sadness, fear, anxiety and so much more. There is no book or manual that tells you how to get through it. A lot of it we just learn as we go.
I never knew there was such a thing as anxiety addiction and maybe in the official sense there is not. However, that's how I describe what is happening with me and that's how I combat it. It's been working and I am fine with loosening my hold on fears and anxiety. My life tends to be a lot happier as I acknowledge I have the problem and work every day at combatting that pesky anxiety that loves to try and tag along with my life as a cancer survivor.