World Mental Health Day
Today is World Mental Health Day. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is “Depression: A Global Crisis”. To mark the day here is an edited version of a post I wrote earlier this year on the subject of depression after cancer.
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. 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.
Yesterday in the Irish Times, Tony Bates taking his leave of his Mind Matters column wrote a beautiful line, which I think is very apt for today’s theme…
Keep talking. Don’t ever stop. These are the conversations that keep us alive
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
“Keep talking. Don’t ever stop. These are the conversations that keep us alive” Wonderful!
Food for thought as always
Pingback: World Mental Health Day | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer | Scoop.it
Depression should never be minimized, yet often it is in our culture’s quest to hear only positive messages. That’s why much of what people say to cancer patients is inappropriate: keep a stiff upper lip, you’ve got a positive attitude, or just keep a positive attitude. As the late Lori Hope has said so many times, we need to affirm the perspective of those punched with cancer, not dismiss it. Thanks for meeting the blog challenge on this significant day. xo
Thank you for sharing Lori’s eloquent words Jan x
Depression is a sneaky thing, and really ought to be discussed more openly – though like your mask, there are times when I haven’t really been brave enough to admit just how sad I was feeling, not even in my blog. But blogging is a very good start, sharing is a very good start. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the conversation could be initiated by others, and asked in a way that’s full of compassion and acceptance rather than a check list of ‘feelings and side effects’ as it is here in Canada. (In regards to cancer treatment)
Seeing your tweet this morning encouraged me to kick up a little courage and write about the depression that hit during the past couple years. . . not in detail, but to the amount I could manage. I’ll leave the link attached to the Name for this comment.
Take care, Marie
(If this is double posted then I apologize! Please delete this or the previous)
Only just getting round to replying to the comments on this post Catherine… thank you for sharing your thoughts. Off now to read your post
I didn’t know today was World Mental Health Day. Open discussion about depression and all aspects of mental health is sorely needed. I always wonder why it’s still somewhat of a taboo subject and yet we so often hear about the mind, body, soul connection. It doesn’t make sense does it? Thanks for your willingness to openly share about your struggles and thanks for this post.
What a good point you make Nancy!
Thanks for your honesty,, we really do need to talk about our mental health
Thanks for always writing so honestly about this important topic