Going through my notes tonight and found this. I wrote it during a moment of vulnerability. When my heart felt like it was going to explode. I didn’t share it then. I questioned whether I would seem insane at the time; however, I see now that was not the case.
June 2019: Recently I had a discussion with a friend and they brought up something that hit home. This friend is also a cancer survivor + transplant recipient. During a disagreement someone they loved granted now a former friend told them that they were “damaged” and that they “had issues in the head.” Which is beyond hurtful on so many levels.
What most people, including our loved ones, might not fully understand is even when we (a cancer patient, or patient in general) go into remission our battle isn’t over. Our lives don’t go back to “normal”. Yes, chemo might be over. Yes, we might not be going into clinic every day. But we still have cancer lingering over us and at times it can be completely overwhelming.
What we need is understanding. Yes, it’s a two way street. Set boundaries for one another if issues arise. But learn to listen. Use expressions like, “Well I feel..” And more importantly don’t raise your voice. That’s a rule in general for everyone. Have you noticed when you get screamed at or when you scream at someone your body tends to shake? You might brush it off as, “I’m so angry.” Truth is, you might be. But what you don’t realize is screaming and screaming out at someone causes trauma to the body. Which in turn breaks down our immune systems and causes illnesses.
Now please understand even when we are in remission our social situations have now changed. Catching a common cold could set us way back and even kill us. No I’m not being dramatic either. P.S. – I got sick at the end of April with a cold, it’s almost July and my counts have still not recovered. Agoraphobia is real. Not to mention there are a lot of individuals that I don’t personally feel comfortable around. No it doesn’t mean I dislike anyone in particular. It means I’m trying to survive and my survival is my priority.
Now.. to the main attraction. Earlier this year when I had a disagreement with someone they tried to publicly shame me by saying that I was “mentally unstable”. Truth is, I, like my cancer friend, have been seeing a therapist in order to cope with the trauma endured. And honestly it disgust me that anyone would try to use that as an insult. It’s damaging. When you throw insults by telling someone they are “crazy”, “wrong in the head”, of “mentally unstable” you are perpetuating a culture around the stigma of mental health. Not cool. This stigma is why only 41 percent of the Americans who have had a mental disorder in the past year have received professional health care or other services. That said I found some interesting statistics on Mental Health. Posting link below. Take a look. And if you feel something isn’t right, speak up and out. I understand the fear. I understand why you might feel it’s best to keep it quiet. But as someone learning how to cope with a traumatic experience its totally worth speaking to a professional. Someone who can give you a totally unbiased approach to the situation yet validate your feelings and make you feel less alone. I promise, it’s worth it.
Also friends, if you see behavior like this, stand up and say something. Even if it’s a, “Hey bro, what you said isn’t cool.” will suffice. Playing ignorant to it because you don’t want to “get involved” makes you just as guilty. And as Janis Ian says, “There are two kinds of evil people in this world. People who do evil stuff and people who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.” This is a HUGE reason why I speak up and defend not only myself but my friends, family, even acquaintances. Do I always get it right? No. But I can live with the decisions I do make in this regard and I’m learning just like everyone else.
Anywho I’m done, thank you all for coming to my TED Talk! 💚