How is coronavirus affecting your mental health?
How is Coronavirus affecting your mental health? Hello, I'm Abby and Welcome to our coronavirus series of talking cancer a podcast from McMillan and Boots where I talked to experts to get answers to the questions. McMillan is hearing most dangerous back, which is great news. McMillan's strategic advisor for treatment daily. Bell will help offer some guidance with managing your mental health. If you're living with or affected by cancer in these strange times, we find ourselves in from recognizing the signs of your struggling if they're starting to feel overly anxious about things if they're mood changes and they're feeling low to guidance to help relieve anxiety. Actually. We live in a really connected world now and lots of people have adapted through lock down to stay connected. Also here's some advice from Carol who is diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year a few months later. She doubted that the cancer had spread to her bones and we started her treatment in March this year. I dealt with my anxiety by trying to focus on the things that I could control with MacMillan and we're talking Cancer birth. Deney, welcome back. It's lovely to hear you and see you again. Now like in the last episode. I'm going to time stamp this because we recording on the 25th of September 2020 and all the information we're sharing is correct at the time of recording having it's probably helpful. I need to clarify first off. What do we mean when we talk about mental Hai is quite to be back. So mental health really is our emotional and psychological well-being and it's very linked to our social well-being. It's how we think how we feel and how we act as individuals and if we're struggling emotionally it can actually affect how we respond to stress relate to those around us. And also how we make choices for ourselves. I mean, these are really challenging times for everybody clearly a lot of people and especially the British were very good at putting a brave face on so, how do you recognize when somebody maybe need some help that they're struggling so people can log Recognize that they need help if they're starting to feel overly anxious about things people will recognize that in themselves also if their mood changes and they're feeling low and can't really explain it more of the time than the normal cuz we all have our ups and downs with all the ordinary things that affect our life but this is something a little bit different. So you're overthinking things worrying about things more or less every day and for good portions of the day people may lose their appetite. They may not be sleeping. They may not have any interest in doing the things that they normally really enjoy doing that is kind of part of them as a an individual. It's really important to remember if you're feeling those things that you're not alone at MacMillan. We hear our huge numbers of people looking for emotional support once they have a cancer diagnosis. So, you know, it's really important to know that you can reach out and get some help a cancer diagnosis. Turn your world upside down. Anyway in this set of circumstances in lockdown with restrictions, it's going to be quite difficult to distinguish a normal, you know, a fairly normal reaction to a you know, a real life worrying piece of news. Absolutely and I think I think we need to remember and I think we can probably all relate to it. You know those that we really care about the most we do know them and we often know the off-side out and we often we can tell when something's wrong before they recognize it in themselves and I think I would I would say kind of go with your gut and your heart and your head if you feel that about I loved one that something's not quite right. They're not wanting to communicate they're not answering calls or you know to say that they kind of not eating also if they getting up in in the night and sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and that's not normal for them. I think there would be subtle changes and and yes, you might think that's linked to a cancer diagnosis birth. I think that the key is if it if it persists perhaps goes on for a prolonged time and and is impacting on every aspect of their life. I think I think you know those closest to you would know that something was fundamentally different to just being upset about a cancer diagnosis and and anxious about what's going to happen and with the additional restrictions, which way are only just this week. We've been told that quite possibly may run until the spring now that's going to have an extra impact on people's anxiety about their their treatment programs do they can go to is their reassurance that you can give to people that have just received a diagnosis that they can go and ask reasonable questions about what happens next to make them feel less anxious about what lies ahead in this strange strange time. I think it's really important when people are having to socially isolate and maybe having some of their interactions with their cancer team. Healthcare Professionals in a virtual way and maybe only going actually into the center for any treatment or they may not be having treatment. They may be having a treatment pause and we know that being isolated really does have a negative effect on people's mental health and that that is an addition really to what they're going through in terms of you know, anxiety with cancer diagnosis and their treatment and the future and then the anxiety of covert and then the anxiety of social isolation and not being able to I mean even that physical contact with people that you you love is really really important. It's human nature isn't it to have a hug if you're a hugger and obviously for people that have been told they've got incurable cancer but might be having treatments to kind of hold the cancer at Bay. I mean the uncertainty must must be tenfold what they normally feel but there is a great deal of support out there now McMillan is receiving a number of calls. Support line for emotional support and I spoke with Rosie and Mark in our last episode about people being told that they have cancer without a friend or a loved one for support. Of course many people who are choosing to continue to hold or reduce their contact with the public that's got to take a huge emotional toll why might people be feeling the impact on their mental health more acutely than ever this year is just so different to how we normally live our lives with the social isolation and not being able to do the things that you would normally do. I mean some of the advice we give people when they're when they're worried is phone no to get out and about talk to friends take up a new hobby. And actually that's slightly more challenging. It's not that you can't do it in your own home. And of course if your if your home treatment people may need to socially isolate before their treatment or surgery if you're on chemotherapy then during that you're going to be your immune system's going to be at risk. So yep. And once that's normal ordinarily people can still find safe ways to get out and about and and do things that they enjoy whereas I think that's harder if you're confined to wash your own home as always McMillan are have fingers and and Avenues in all sorts of places and there is support out there for people who feel like they are struggling mentally. So, where is where the first ports of call De me where can people go for some help or support. There's a great deal of support out there and people can choose the means of support that suits them because we're all different. So for example, some people are very comfortable using support groups or peer support and they can do that in a virtual way. So McMillan have an online community but some of our information and support centers have set up virtual support so they can speak to their cancer team or they can bring our support line and they can find out about those dead. Or they can go on to our website and just see what's available if people are really struggling and they like to speak to someone rather than do something virtual. You know, they can bring our support line. They might be able to tap into some of the services that we've put together like telephone buddies well-being of teachers to help them maintain their physical and emotional well-being. There's some information on our website about virtual physical activity cuz we know that actually remaining active can support emotional well-being they can also talk to you know, they cancel team or their GP if they're really worried about how they're feeling and they will facilitate that in a safe way if they're going through treatment with people that really like digital that's a whole range of apps out there that can support them and we've tried to review some apps and create a Marketplace on our website for apps that can help people that home. For calling emotionally so, you know, I think there's there's a wealth of information there. But what I will say is speak to the speak to their cancer team or their GP or go to a trusted web site. I like the McMillian website or pick up the phone and find the support line and and help us there. You you just mentioned their daily the telephone buddy system which roses much in and I love it. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that works? Yeah. So our telephone buddies are our usual volunteers who obviously can't support people in the way that they they normally do because of a distancing. They're basically at the end of the phone to support people with advice practical needs and just to be a listening ear. I think it's really important that you've kind of just really took office eyes that there is something for the super tech-savvy right through to you know, people who who it's a computer I can't do it because it is important because job Not for a lot of people, you know doing a zoom chat with somebody they've never met before it's not great. You know, it's not a great option for some people and I love the telephone buddy system that you've got to go. I think it's it's really cool. So there's there isn't there's an access point for everybody along the tech scale isn't there there is saying that picking up the phone for the first time when you have decided and made that call that you are struggling a little bit is is a big step, isn't it? What would you say to somebody sitting there going after I don't know am I making a Fast I'd really don't know whether I should do this or not. I would say they've absolutely taken the first step in acknowledging that perhaps they need help. And so maybe the first thing to do is just talk it through with someone that they feel comfortable with whether that's a friend or or their GP or even their their cancer team and just to talk it through and certainly having been a cancer nurse. Nothing is ever too slight for you to listen to them. People often think or why don't want to worry them or this is really silly but it you know, but if it's constantly on your mind the best thing to do is to talk to somebody about it and make that first step then to find out where to get help absolutely. Brilliant as always stay there. Don't move. We're going to be speaking to you shortly. Questions about cancer boots and McMillan are by your side from the moment. You're diagnosed through your treatment and beyond our boots McMillan information pharmacist. So on hand with Specialists support from helping you make sense of your diagnosis to advice about living with cancer. You can find them in your local boots Pharmacy or online via video appointment. Visit boots.com forward slash McMillan for more information subject to pharmacists availability. Hi, I'm Carol. I'm thirty-eight and from Manchester. I was initially diagnosed with primary breast cancer in December 2019. And then with secondary breast cancer in February this year lockdown was massive anxiety inducing so much with outside of of all of our control. So I dealt with my anxiety by trying to focus on the things that I could control like, you know the next few hours. So the next few days, I found it quite helpful to limit my exposure to all the Doom and Gloom in the news. I focused on things that made me happy, you know, like catch up with family and friends virtually like that started learning Italian during the lockdown randomly. I exercised and threw myself into things like campaigning for MacMillan. I also found edit ation really really helped as well. I found that was really helpful in trying to make me focus on the present a bit more and not worry so much about the future. Think you'll agree some really useful advice from Carol. They're the people who are having to sell for isolate daily before treatment or surgery or if someone in your household is showing symptoms of coronavirus, we've heard how lonely this experience can be. I mean, it must be awful. How can people stay connected it is difficult. And actually we lived in a really connected world now and lots of people have adapted through lock down to using FaceTime and WhatsApp to stay connected to friends and family. However, it's still hard if you can't get out and about in the page away and so people might want to explore things in in a virtual way and we've seen lots of things like people doing virtual bingo with their family home or if they love Gardens the National Guard and scheme of got virtual Gardens that people can access its kind of a about finding what you like, but there is a lot their home. Do appreciate that there are some people that are perhaps not adapt at that kind of digital but there will always be someone in their family that is and so rather than feeling originated, you know, sit down with a a family member and and and look at what's there and find things that work for you and we've talked a little bit as well which I'm sure adds another layer of anxiety that due to the pandemic. It's meant for some people that they've they're having to face delays to there from diagnosis right through to where they are on the treatment plans. What guidance can you give to help people off that anxiety? They might be experiencing around those delays. What what a reasonable questions that people are you should be asking I think it's really really important that they any anxiety they have about their treatment that they do to their cancer team and the cancer nurse specialist because they will have all the information about them as a person they're cancer. And so if people are worried about delays to their treatment they need Talk it through and understand what the impact is for them. And if you're not going through active treatment in your worried, you know, then have a conversation with your GP about whether you should be worried because those are the people that have the most information about your health and and what to worry about and what not to worry about them as always a font of knowledge and the voice of support and comfort. Thank you so much lovely to speak to you again for more information on a topics daily, and I have talked about in this episode head to our website McMillan. He's talking cancer the resources advice and support. It's also where you can find out more about donating a million, you know, next episode were talking about work and cancer in the age of coronavirus subscribe. If you'd like to hear that and every new episode whenever it's ready, and if you enjoy the series we'd love it if you could give us a callback. Sing or a review so that others can find the podcast more easily. I'm Emma be talking cancer is a MacMillan cancer support podcast.