cancer, mental health, mental illness, recovery, self-care, stigma
At a recent event I attended, a multi-Ironman triathlete shared his story about the colon cancer that has drastically changed his life. He was having multiple health issues and not sure why. Once he was finally diagnosed he was scheduled for surgery. He said that after surgery, the doctor said he has a cancer that’s not removable or curable. The only way he would live is if he followed a strict chemo treatment regimen.
I’m sure most of us would struggle with such news. He did too, but then he realized it was actually good news. He now knew what he had to do to stay alive.
Mental health struggles are like cancer. The affect us emotionally and physically – they eat us up from the inside out. Not only is the struggle itself difficult, it’s bathed in stigma leading to shame and even self-contempt.
The good news is, as we increase awareness and understanding of our mental health needs, we can hear the doctor’s orders as a positive – if we daily take our “medicine” we will stay alive. Of course, what the medicine is, varies person to person but treatment, good supports, and ongoing physical and mental self-care are key components. It’s not easy but the more intentional we are at taking our medicine, the more we can move forward with hope.