Struggling with Anxiety

Hi I’ve not posted on here for a while but could do with some tips or one liners I could use when I’m not feeling up to visitors. I had my mastectomy last August, finished radiotherapy at the end of November and on hormone treatment to put me into the menopause.  I have recently been put onto mirtazapine due to anxiety and feeling low. I have been feeling very guilty for being off work but not in any place feeling up to going back yet. A friend from work has messaged me asking if she could visit me, I explained I have a lot of appointments so left it at that. She came back saying can she visit next week and stated the days she could do. I gave in and said she could come round tomorrow. I know the conversation will be about work and about opportunities that are coming up. As well as when will I be back at work. I’ve Had this before and it has left me feeling awful, like I’m being lazy, when I’m not. Can anyone please help me with anyone one liners I can say to people who are being pushy, when I find it difficult to say no. I start mindfulness classes this week and really hoping they will help me. I’m signed off until the end of February which will make it just over 6months wondering if I will be entitled to ESA? Thank you for reading this xxx

Hi Sunflower


What a horrible position to be in. I finished my chemo/radiotherapy last June and was told today, by the acupuncturist working at the breast cancer Haven, that I’m only just beginning to react to the whole thing!! So you’ve a while to go before you start feeling guilty.


It’s lovely that your friend/colleague wants to visit and such a pity you can’t feel pleasure, just guilt. You are quite entitled to feel however you feel - it’s your life and only you can gauge the impact the physical and psychological trauma breast cancer has had on you. But one bad experience doesn’t mean they’ll all be pushy - maybe this visitor will show more concern about you. However, I have noticed that many of my friends think once the treatment is over, that’s it, and that I’m a bit of a snowflake (way too old for that) for suffering from fatigue and HT side effects, let alone anything else like trauma! However, my attitude is that that’s their problem. If they want me to enlighten them, then we’re still friends; if their mind is closed, I’m less keen to maintain the friendship.


If you need a way to stop the work talk, how about saying that you’ve obviously had something else on your mind since you last saw her and work seems a million miles away - right where you need to keep it for now. So can we agree on a no-work conversation? She can chat all about the festive season and what Santa brought her; if nothing else, there’s always Gavin & Stacey or the Queen’s speech - even the General Election if you dare or care right now!


As regards ESA, Macmillan are excellent in the advice about finances. Why not give them a ring? 


Best of luck with the visit. Enjoy yourself! Enjoy the flowers/plant/chocolates/gin - whatever she brings - but better still, enjoy some company that’s not from what I call cancer-world.

Jan x

Hi Sunflower. I empathise with what you describe. A visit from a colleague that makes you anxious before it’s even happened, doesn’t perhaps bode well. 

You could cancel on the basis that “I’m not in a great space and don’t want to inflict my cancer on you, but would love a catch-up when I’m feeling more myself”. 

Remember that you are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act at work, so your employer should be empathetic, not only to what your medics think but to your feelings too. A good manager (I praise the heavens for mine) will understand the impact is both physical and psychological. 

The guilty feelings suggest to me you aren’t a work-shy person, but you are being realistic that you don’t feel well enough to go back to work at present. 

What you decide, as regards when your 6 months is up ( I’m guessing on full pay) is a big decision; I’ve no idea about ESA, sorry.

It’s a big step, either way, so you need to have a long think and try not to be influenced by well-meaning colleagues. Bottom line really us that it is a matter for you, your medical team and your manager. Sending a hug. Wonky.