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Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN Mesothelioma NurseWe write a lot about the physical symptoms of Mesothelioma and are always trying to help people with the pain, shortness of breath or any other physical limitations. Today we are writing about what people experience mentally when being diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, like any other cancer, leaves the patient feeling fearful, sad, and scared, to name a few. The brain is a powerful organ and it controls our thoughts and emotions. The part of the brain that is responsible for this is the limbic system. The center of the emotional processing center is the amygdala which receives input from other brain functions. Emotions are controlled by the levels of different chemicals in your brain. For example, if you are in danger your brain will release hormones that make you react faster. The hormone is known as adrenaline. Emotions are powerful and your mood determines how you react to certain scenarios. Developing a skill set to learn how to control your emotions can be done but it requires practice and patience.

The first thing you should do is identify the emotion that you are experiencing. If you suppress your emotions or ignore them, that does not mean they will go away. If you feel sad or frightened, you need to identify and acknowledge this is how you feel. The next step would be to reframe your thinking pattern. If you are anticipating the worst when you see the doctor, you may not be able to fully understand what they physician is saying because you have already painted a bad scenario in your head. Try to open your mind and pretend you are looking through a magnifying glass with no smudges and the lens is perfectly clear. The lens is your brain with no preconceived notion. Another suggestion would be to do something to break those emotions that seem to persist and nag at you. Engage in something that makes you feel good. Many times, people go for walks, or visit someone to take their mind off their own issues. If you want to feel positive you must do something positive. Some people will meditate or listen to some upbeat music. Practicing managing your emotions does not happen overnight but the more you invest the better the outcome.

We know how treatments and recovery can be physically draining but keeping your emotions in check will improve you mentally and physically. If these suggestions are not helpful try reaching out to a medical professional who may be able to steer you in the direction of some professional aide. Throughout medical centers there are psychiatrists, social workers, and chaplains. Don’t give in and just say this is how I am supposed to live. Many people have learned to teach themselves not to get bogged down by these emotions. Your body is fighting Mesothelioma and your brain is fighting the mental part of the disease. Get up each morning and give it your all. This is by no means an easy task, but you are worth it.

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