World Mental Health Day
Today is World Mental Health Day, which is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
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”).
While the physical trauma is past, the stress lingers and brings with it days washed in fine shades of gray – Dana Jennings
Dana Jennings, whose writings in the New York Times about his treatment for prostate cancer, so eloquently captured the variety of feelings which cancer survivors face after treatment ends, wrote that while he was “ buoyed by a kind of illness-induced adrenaline” during treatment, once treatment ended, he found himself “ambushed by depression.”
Jennings’ words will have a familiar ring to many of us who have struggled with that unexpected feeling of depression and loneliness that creeps up on us after treatment is finished. For some survivors depression kicks in shortly after diagnosis or at some stage during treatment; for others it may ambush them weeks, months or even years after treatment ends.
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.
So today, let’s take off our masks and tell it like it really is. If you are feeling down and you want someone to reach out to you today, please let us know. Let’s support each other here through the good, the bad, and the sad days. We are a community that is built on compassion and understanding. Let’s show that to those who really need it today.