Weekly Round-Up

girl_with_lassoIt’s back!

Time for this week’s round-up of the best of the blogs which I’ve read over the past week. These are the posts that have moved me, taught me something, inspired me, and which I’ve wanted to share with you. Remember, if you have written or read a post recently which you would like me to share with readers, then please leave a comment below.

I have really missed putting together the weekly round-up over the past few weeks, and it feels good to be doing it again. Prepare yourselves for a bumper round-up this week as I get back into the swing of things.

My first stop was to visit Anne Marie’s blog and how good it was to still find her in fine voice, just as I left her 😉 I love the story of how she met a new friend and kindred spirit online – each time I hear a story like this, I get a new thrill of excitement at the power of the internet to connect us globally.  The rest of Anne Marie’s post concerns the work of the Italian Komen affiliate and those of you familiar with Anne Marie’s writing, can probably guess what comes next……

On my second blog stop, I hopped on over to Peru, virtually speaking, to catch up with Terri on her adventures. This week she has had another dream come true and brought us along for the ride.

I was excited to see that Lauren has dipped her toes back into the blogging waters..we missed your writing Lauren.. and to read about Catherine’s hair growing back . But, I was also sad to hear of the passing of Jackie’s friend, Pam. The first time Jackie and I met online and I asked her to write a guest post for me, she sent me this special poem, along with a fabulous picture of her and Pam.

Experiencing slight withdrawal symptoms from May’s Health Activist Writer’s Challenge, I was thrilled to find two new writing challenges this week, which I was delighted so many of you joined in with too.

The first of these was set by Renn on her blog:

Can you condense your cancer experience into just six words?

And so you rose to the six word cancer memoir challenge beautifully. Catch up with these short but powerful memoirs on The Big C and Me.

The second writing challenge, and one you will know is very close to my own particular interests, was the mental health blogging challenge. It was wonderful to see how many of you took up this challenge and here is just a sample of what you wrote.

Debbie, whom I admire for how she writes about integrating mind and body healing on her blog, wrote about the importance of prioritizing your mental health:

Healing our mental health is every bit as important as healing physically. If cancer has taught me anything, it’s taught me the value of prioritizing our mental health to create an inspired survivorship.

Candida, who continues to awe me with the quality of her highly researched and cogently argued posts, wrote a sobering account of how “in America.. we do a very poor job of servicing our mentally ill–and where emergency rooms and jails are the havens of those who can’t get service anywhere else.” Sadly, it is not just America where mental health is so ill-served as I can report from this corner of Europe.

Philippa will forever be associated with two things in my mind – (1) our shared passion for how online connections can be transformative and (2) Capt Paranoia and it is to the latter she returns in her mental health post this week.

In my own mental health post, I refer to the mask we sometimes wear and behind which we hide our sadnesses and despair, and this theme was echoed by Yvonne when she wrote of the “common” depression which “seems more like a secret never to be told…. Easier perhaps to simply camouflage depression with the routines and rituals by which other people have always defined us.”

Robin left a link to her post in the comments section and so I was led to discover a new blog – Metanoia– one I shall be following from now on. Robin writes of the genetic inheritence of bipolar which came from her great-grandmother and the tragic consequences of her son’s suicide. I was particularly struck by Robin’s father reporting  that “his own mother had once said that she had made up her mind never to be like her mother, and that she was proud of having achieved that goal ~ as if it were a matter of self-control rather than genetic luck.”  This idea that we can somehow “control” our mental health by sheer will-power is a pervasive one in our society and again, I found it echoed in Lois’s words on her blog:

My own experiences with depression date back to the 1970s. I was so ashamed when I needed help that I told no one about my weekly trips to my psychiatrist. My depression recurred in the early 1980s. Again I felt I should have been able to heal myself….Somehow along the way I found the courage to be who I am and in my 2010 book, This Path We Share, I am quite open about my depressions. I am doing well now, thanks to those many talk sessions and medication.

Again this theme of blame and shame is taken up by The Pink Underbelly, who emphasizes that depression is treatable just as any illness and there should be no shame or blame attached to it.  I love that she has quoted Dana Jennings in her post:

It’s harder to write about the weight of depression than it is to write about prostate cancer and its physical indignities. Cancer is clear biological bad luck. But depression, no matter how much we know about it, makes part of me feel as if it’s somehow my fault, that I’m guilty of something that I can’t quite articulate.

Kathi  also refers to the genetic component of mental illness in a post she wrote last year on the topic of depression. It is one of the most insightful, honest and helpful things I have read on the topic from someone who really understands.

Jan has written a bravely honest account of her eating disorder and she has provided some great tips for dealing with any addictive behavior in our lives. I know it can’t have been easy for Jan to write about something so personal and, as she says herself, so taboo, but when we share our stories and break through the silence of guilt and shame, it is incredibly powerful (the whole point of this exercise I believe).

This is exactly why psychologist, Dr Ann Becker Shutte, chose to tell a story of a dark time in her own life:

I believe that each of us will face moments of absolute darkness and pain–and that we all deserve to have the support that we need to get through those times.  If sharing my story helps another person reach out for support, that is a wonderful outcome.

Not directly related to the mental health blogging challenge, but a challenge to us nonetheless in Brenda’s latest post on Stage IV cancer. How strong is your will to live? How far would you go to hold onto life if you were given this diagnosis. It’s an extremely thought-provoking piece on a topic none of us wants to face, but as one of the comments say, is a reality none the less.

Beth has chosen to recount her own personal story of the emotional toll a breast cancer diagnosis takes on the patient, and in her post on the topic of mental health, Nancy makes a plea for more attention to be given to cancer survivorship as an important phase of cancer treatment. She also writes of how we all have a part to play ” in helping to remove the dark cloud that still hovers over mental illness and mental health issues in general. We can all become more aware, more knowledgeable, more open-minded and less judgmental.” Amen to that Nancy!

Phew! What a bumper round-up – you sure kept me busy today. I didn’t get around to including everyone, as I tried to keep it thematic this week, so please, do leave a link to your post in the comments below if I missed your blog.

Until next week….

Yours with love

Marie xxx