Today I am having a bad day.
Waking up is hard- I do my absolute best to choose the day ahead of me but being completely transparent, sometimes I let the day choose me. I let the depression win, I let the anxiety take over, and I decide to surrender to all the pain that is, mental illness.
Then, the guilt sets in. Which for me, is the worst part- I feel guilty for feeling my mental illness, like it’s not a real illness. I think this guilt stems from being surrounded by a physical illness like cancer for a portion of my life. I have this lie in my head that I tell myself, “You’re not really sick unless the blood test shows you that you are.” It is a lie I’ve convinced myself of and even as I type it I know it sounds ridiculous. But for so long I had convinced myself that Cooper’s cancer was of more importance than my mental health would ever be. That because it was cancer, I could never compete unless I too, had cancer. No illness, especially no mental illness, was of enough importance to admit it was a problem.
I know where this lie stems from, it stems from a long line of feeling like if it wasn’t cancer it wasn’t a big enough problem to address. See, when you’re a sibling of someone with cancer, someone dying of cancer. You make your problems small. You convince yourself that your problems are not as big as cancer so they do not matter.
The problem with this is, you cannot undo the mess you’ve create in your mind- it follows you.
So now, years after cancer has left my life and Cooper has left this world- I still believe my illness is not valid. I still have to convince myself that if I am having an off day I can rest my mind and my heart.
But let me tell you what cancer and mental illness have in common.
They can both kill you.
So I am writing this, a note to myself, that just like cancer feasting at the bodies every healthy cell, my mental illness is doing the same thing.
And if ignored, my mental illness will take hold of every healthy cell, and kill it off just like cancer.
Cancer and mental illness are not far off from each other.
It’s just how you choose to look at it.
Maybe today you too need to be reminded that whatever you’re dealing with is just as important as cancer, or a heart attack, or a paper cut. Do not weigh YOUR struggles against someone else’s. Everyone is hurting, everyone is struggling, whether physical or mental, illness is real.
If I could go back and tell Kassidy something in January of 2013, a few short weeks before Cooper would be diagnosed with cancer, I would tell her two things.
Never feel guilty for what you’re feeling- mental or physical.
Your pain is important.
Even though we can’t go back, we can go forward.
I can tell Kassidy today and Kassidy tomorrow those same words.
I can work through the guilt of feeling like my illness is not enough compared to others.
And maybe you need to work through that guilt too. Whether you’re a cancer sibling or a mom who puts her child’s needs before her own.
We all struggle with this, so lets say it together…
“Never feel guilty for what you’re feeling- mental or physical.
Your pain is important”
To My Gracious & Grateful Community,
I want to remind you-
You are loved.
You are enough.
You are important.
You are needed.
Tomorrow needs you.