Swinging on a swing set.
Swinging a tennis racket, a baseball bat, or a golf club.
Swing dancing to swing music.
“Would you like to swing on a star?”
“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
Swinging usually sounds like fun. But not when it’s your mood that’s doing the swinging. Mood swings can accompany the cancer journey for many people. Author Jann Aldredge-Clanton says that people with cancer “may feel dramatic mood swings, buoyed by support of family and friends but then let down as the reality of their losses sets in.” Agreed and well-said.
I had some MAJOR mood swings when I was going through chemotherapy. I would at one point in the day be unable to get off the couch and then an hour later wonder, “What was that all about?” and feel fully functional. Then maybe the next day feel like I want to hit someone with a shovel…and then suddenly have a crying jag…and then feel fine again. AHHHHH!!! It can feel like one minute you’re holding on by a thread and should probably check yourself into a hospital and the next minute you’re happy that you’re alive and should just go bowling. Now that’s more than a bit crazy-making.
One thing that makes mood swings particularly difficult is that you feel like you have no control. It can make you feel like you’re losing your mind or there’s something “wrong” with you. Most people in our lives can have difficulty understanding mood swings because the changes can happen so quickly. They see us laughing and assume everything is fine and get confused when we burst into tears at the slightest thing.
I want to tell you that if you are having mood swings during cancer treatment, you are not alone and you are not crazy. The chemicals in our bodies have very powerful effects on our emotions. An article published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network states that cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, as well as cancer itself can affect the balance of chemicals in the brain and contribute to changes in behavior and mood.
Even aside from the chemicals, having mood swings when you’re going through cancer treatment actually makes sense…you’re going through so much that your emotions are all over the place. Your emotional self can’t find a place to settle.
If you are experiencing mood swings, first and foremost, please be gentle on yourself. Please don’t let your mind convince you that you are crazy. Remind yourself that it is not you, it’s the chemicals in your body that are doing this.
And for heaven’s sake, talk to someone. Tell your doctor and see if there is anything that can be done to help. Talk to people in support groups. I guarantee you will find people there who will relate to what you’re experiencing. And find a good counselor in your area. It will be worth your while. I know it was invaluable for me when I was going through treatment. Don’t feel like you have to cope with this on your own.
**Note: If your mood swings are severe and interfere with your daily living activities, please contact a health professional immediately.
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Photo Credit: pixelmama via Flickr