Blogging For Mental Health

Mental Health Month Blog PartyAs soon as I saw this, I had to join in!

Mental health affects everyone and everything we do. Yet, mental health is a topic many don’t feel comfortable discussing. Today, May 16, 2012, the American Health Association ask bloggers to spread the word about the importance of good mental health and reduce its stigma.

Here’s the request:

Join us on Wednesday, May 16, and publish a post on your blog about mental health’s importance, how we can diminish stigma, or the challenges of making lifestyle and behavior changes. Tell your story. Share your experience. Mental health affects everything we do. No matter what you regularly blog about, there’s a way to incorporate mental health.

Well, as regular readers know this is a subject I write a lot about. I don’t think it’s one we can avoid as health bloggers. In one form or another, we have all touched on it.

We now know that the incidence of depression following a cancer diagnosis is high. While most people will understand that dealing with a chronic illness like cancer causes depression, not everyone understands that depression can go on for many months and even years after cancer treatment has ended (one of the most frequent searches that comes up on my blog analytics is “depression following cancer”). What is even less well understood is the depression that seemingly comes out of nowhere for no apparent reason and there is less support and understanding for this.

Depression is an isolating and lonely place and people are reluctant to talk about it for fear of being stigmatised or just plain misunderstood – which of course adds to the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Like Eleanor Rigby (with a face that we keep in a jar) we put on a mask to face the world, because it isn’t socially acceptable to wear any other face.

Ah yes. The mask. I have written about my mask here on several occasions, and I am admitting that I have felt forced to wear it again recently, when really I have wanted to howl at the despair I am feeling after my mother’s death and the loss of my baby. While it may seem like I am coping on the outside, I am struggling inside. What helps is knowing that I am not alone. Knowing that this is a universal struggle so many of us deal with everyday. I wish we didn’t have to hide it, but sometimes in order to appear like “normal” functioning adults we do.

The title of this challenge is blogging for mental health and it is very apt for me – because, as I have also written here many times, it is blogging that has saved my mental health. Knowing that there is a place where I can write from my heart, a place where I can take off my mask, and know that I am being heard, held and understood is so healing.

If you want to join me in this challenge, then you will find all the details you need here. I hope you do for I know how empowering it is when we can speak out about our struggles with depression, and help each other find ways to better mental health.

I want to end this with a quote I shared earlier today on the JBBC Facebook page. I think it is a beautiful reminder to us to deal compassionately with each other. The greatest gift we have to give is our compassion – to let others know they are not alone in their struggles.

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Related Posts

The Beyond Blue Interview

Jerry Remy talks of his depression after cancer

Link between cancer and depression

Breast cancer intervention reduces depression

The loneliness of the long-distance cancer survivor

When depression strikes again