Multiple Myeloma and Mental Health

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I shouldn’t have to write this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to write it. Multiple myeloma is hard. Cancer is hard. Being sick is hard. Recovering is hard. Not being able to do what you used to is hard. It is so hard that it is actually more likely than not that myeloma patients will need some form of mental health. There is absolutely no shame in that. And no matter what you do, do not listen to someone without cancer tell you had you should feel, or for how long you should feel it.

Multiple Myeloma and Depression

When you have two things at the same time, doctors call them comorbidities. Depression and cancer go together like peanut butter and jelly, only not in a good way. Think about it. Why would an oncology practice have a counselor on staff if mental health issues were not common in cancer patients? If you can’t figure it out, ask to speak to the counselor. They can help you.

Depression may be temporary. Depression may be long-lasting or permanent. Depression may be easy to handle just by talking with the counselor every oncology practice has on staff. Depression may take medication to treat. Do not be afraid to take medication. There are no medals for taking less medication. Depression meds do not change who you are. They are not “happy pills.” You don’t get a gold star for “being tough” and making it on your own.

Cancer and Suicide

Alright look. If you are here and thinking about suicide, don’t. Talk to someone. Talk to the annoying counselor. Talk to your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, the nurse who takes your blood samples. Talk to anyone. Do not do it.

You can dial 988 if you need to talk. It’s technically a suicide hotline, but they won’t hang up on you if you aren’t holding a razor blade, or anything like that. A lot of states also have suicide hotlines. The State of Colorado has this whole web page full of resources.

Why am I doing this?

Myeloma High Rate of Suicide

According to this study, there is a 3.5 times likeliness of someone with multiple myeloma committing suicide. We don’t want to lose you. Our little myeloma team needs everyone. We don’t want you on our team, but once you are here, we want you to stay on our team. If you go through with it, you transfer to Team Dead. That team sucks.

Look, I’m not a doctor, but I know what having myeloma is like. I know it can seem pretty hopeless, and I know the pain and fatigue can drain your will to do anything. But when you first found out you had cancer, you had a moment. It might have been a brief moment or a long moment, but you thought about something. You thought about something you wanted to do, or something you would miss out on. But you are here now, and that thing? That thing is probably still here too. Think about that thing. Think about doing that thing. What you wanted when you found out is waiting for you.

If that doesn’t work, the most morbid thing I have heard is to think about who will find your body. Who will find your dead body? How will finding your dead body affect their life? You should stay alive for you, but if that doesn’t work, stay alive to avoid traumatizing your spouse, your kids, or your friends.

Mental Health Insurance Coverage

It turns out that a lot of health care plans cover various mental health treatments including counseling appointments, medications, and other therapies. And, since those of us on Team Myeloma have no trouble getting the ball over the out-of-pocket-maximum line, your visits might be free, or at least much cheaper. I think most of the Obamacare plans have at least some coverages for mental health.

About the Author

Brian Nelson – Brian is a multiple myeloma survivor. While currently MRD-, members of Team Myeloma know that there is no cure for myeloma yet, even if there are plenty of exciting new treatments. Brian is not a doctor. He doesn’t even play one on TV, and he hasn’t stayed in a Holiday Inn Express for a long time. Talk to your oncologist or other health care professionals about any health care concerns you may have.

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