Real Talk About Mental Health
Content Warning:This article includes information related to mental and emotional distress and may be upsetting to some people. If you or someone you know is in danger, please call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or Lifeline chat. To find mental health providers or resources in your area, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
I debated about writing on this topic but after recent events in the news and with someone that I personally know, it was important to speak about it.
Cancer patients battle with their mental health and mental illness too. Many of us are so uncomfortable thinking about the seriousness of our mental health, much less actually talking about it.
What we don't talks about effects us all
However, the reality is, if we don't talk about it, we don't help each other, and we certainly can't save lives! Some are constantly overwhelmed with frustration and despair. Many of us face depression at some point (which may present as anger). Too many of us battle with suicidal thoughts and unfortunately, we lose some to that fight. So, let's talk friends...
No one prepares you...But how can they??
When you get that first diagnosis, one of the first things that normally happens is the professionals try to comfort you. Then they try to prepare you for what you will experience in the form of treatment.
Over time, you will have a host of people from doctors to family members (and all never-ending list of friends, co-workers, church members, neighbors, and everyone else in between... LOL) try to help prepare you for "What Comes Next!"
They will tell you what will hurt, what will make you sick, what will be uncomfortable, what works, doesn't work, the best doctors, home remedies, etc... But few and I mean VERY few, if any, will tell you about what's about to happen to you mentally!
We all have our "moments..."
My dear friends, let me just say this, regardless of how positive and happy you normally are, you will have a "moment" at some point!
And you know what, that is OK! It truly is!
Part of the trauma becomes us not allowing ourselves to face it and have it so that we can get through it and release it! We often go on this journey, determined to be so strong.
We convince ourselves and everyone else that we are going to continue with our "normal" lives and that we can BEAT THIS! We can manage whatever this throws at us!
What cancer throws at us is difficult to handle
For most of us, this is true to some extent. But we just don't stop to consider the times when this will be an absolute beast.
And talk about what it throws at us, well some days it will throw one ball with all the force of hell. On other days it will throw several balls at various times and at various speeds.
Some days it will feel it is throwing all the balls at once! And this may be before you even have your breakfast, if you can even get out of bed.
Sometimes the mind won't matter...
This is a mind-over-matter journey. Yet, there will be some days it will feel as if your mind has totally let you down and it just doesn't matter. The pressure of all you are facing can be so overwhelming.
Physical fatigue can so easily become mental fatigue. When you realize you just cannot keep all your previous obligations and be there for your family as you once did, well that becomes Depression.
Then there is dealing with hours and even days of unbearable pain. Pain like you have never experienced before and there is only temporary relief, if at all. That will affect you mentally for sure! Let me tell you, NOBODY told me about that one!!!
You start to believe there is only one way to escape, either to relieve your family of their pain, yourself, or both! Yes, it's REAL!
Rest. Relax. Release...
I can share all this with you not because I read or researched it, but because I lived it! The first 2 years were the hardest for me. And yes, I can admit, I even attempted suicide...Twice.
I will share that another time, but I learned to relax, rest, release, and rejoice! I am still here to embrace my loved ones and another day!
Have you met another blood cancer patient?