World Mental Health Day
Reposting for World Mental Health Day.
When I first started this blog, I elected to write about how my cancer experience had enriched my life (rather than to admit any other darker truth). I wanted this blog to be about hope – as a young woman newly diagnosed with cancer, I only wanted to hear that there would be a good outcome to all of this. When I finished treatment, I wanted to be that survivor – the one with the story of hope for other young women. But over the past five years of writing, as I struggled to come to terms with infertility (a legacy of cancer treatment) and the death of my beloved mother from a brain tumor, I could no longer write that cancer was a life-affirming, positive experience. Cancer robs you of so many precious things, leaves your spirit broken, and your hopes and dreams shattered.
And yet we should not stay stuck in this place forever. We need to find a way to journey from our dark places toward the light. How we do this will be different for each of us; but do it we must.
For me, writing about my experiences and being part of a caring, compassionate and wise blog community has helped me enormously. Knowing that there is a place where I can write from my heart, a space where I can shed my mask is empowering for me. In the words of Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down The Bones: “I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay; how to make myself strong and come home, and it may be the only real home I’ll ever have.”
Give Sorrow Words
“When we write, we create, and when we offer our creation to one another, we close the wound of loneliness, and may participate in healing the broken world.” – Pat Schneider
A cancer diagnosis is devastating. Writing can help transform your cancer experience into a journey of healing and self-awareness. Translating emotions into words makes them less overwhelming. We begin to understand them. Emotional healing is a critical part of survivorship and writing is a wonderful way to access a deeper well of healing. “Give sorrow words”, wrote Shakespeare almost 400 years ago; his words as relevant today as ever. Through writing, we can find our way back to a sense of wholeness. We may discover a place inside us that we are not even aware of; feelings that might remain forever hidden unless we gave expression to them through writing.
Authentic writing, writing that comes from a deep place within us, opens up our vulnerabilities – what writer Michael Lewin calls our places of wounded-ness. Blogging in a community of like-minded people counteracts the isolation we so often feel. It carries within it the seeds of community and connection which is lacking in so many of our lives and a key component of good mental health. I am grateful for those of you who have shared your own stories of wounded-ness and healing on your blogs. In reading them, my journey of discovery has been enriched and I have gained solace and strength for the journey.
So my message to you on this Mental Health Blog Day, is to keep shedding light in the darkness. Keep telling your stories. “When we begin to see our suffering as a story,” Anaïs Nin wrote in her famous diaries, “we are saved.”