I’ve realised that mental health is starting to become more and more talked about. Through schools, workshops, over social media and the internet. It’s finally becoming more recognised. I know that in school, we never really had much to do with talks surrounding mental health. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I don’t remember it being talked about at all. Or maybe it’s something that we don’t really experience until we get out into the big wide world? Or maybe, being so young and somewhat naive, we didn’t take much notice of it. I understand it can be quite a sensitive topic to bring up, but I also understand it is extremely important. I do believe that it has actually taken a cancer diagnosis to wake me up to it!
Before I got diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t know the importance, or the extent of the importance of mental health. (I also feel like I am always starting the sentence with “before I got diagnosed with cancer.”) But that’s because I truly was a completely different girl to the one I am now! I relate everything back to who I was to who I am now! I had completely different views on life. Well, I should say I had very little views on life.
I have, and still do, understand and know the feelings of struggle. I have faced THAT many different emotions and feelings since 2016. I have experienced my life feeling like it’s been completely turned upside down and ruined at the age of 21. I have faced one too many set backs to count. Of feeling “not normal” compared to everyone else around me, because I’m on a constant battle, because I’m not getting to experience a lot of the things everyone else is getting to, because I haven’t worked for such a long period of time. In a way, I do feel like I have faced death. I have had thoughts like “shit, I could actually die.” I’ve thought how cancer has claimed the lives of so many beautiful people out there. I am too, battling cancer… What if it claims mine? How do I know that it won’t? I just have to trust that everything will work out the way it should.
The pain sometimes is so horrible and so heart breaking. And I’m not talking about the physical, (I surprisingly am not fussed over the physical side of things anymore.) But the mental. It’s something you can’t really explain to someone unless they’re going through a similar situation. Even then, I find it hard to put it into words. Or even find the right words.
Believe me when I say, I know struggle.
But within these times, I experienced a feeling of change. I knew that I needed to make positive change in order to get through this massive battle. I knew that if I let this overcome me I could get stuck in a really dark cloud. I could have easily let this journey defeat me, break me down and change me in ways that which I am not. I didn’t want to be damaged and I didn’t want to let it make me into a bitter person. I didn’t want cancer to change me for the worse.
What could I do in order to make positive lifestyle changes? What is going to be the best for me?
I changed my diet. Instead of eating shitty foods that make me feel shitty. I ate beautiful foods that are also nourishing my whole body. Instead of closing myself off and hiding away in my home, I surrounded myself with positive, uplifting and encouraging friends. I made sure I got out and about, and included myself in events, or days down the beach, or even some nights out. I followed inspiring people over social media. Honestly, social media can be an amazing platform to reach out or to find motivation, you just have to follow the right people. I read books on self help, self love, health, on manifestation and so on. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote in my journals. I literally have so many journals! I worked on gratitude and I surrounded myself in nature and other beautiful things.
Over the past 2.5 years I have seen so many health practitioners. Councillors, nutritionists, naturopaths, kinesiologists. Just to name a few. And everyone I have come into contact with when I’ve had certain appointments with them, or even just meeting people out and about, have always left me with some pretty amazing and wise advice/encouragement. I have been extremely fortunate for the people I have met along the way who have shown me nothing but love and kindness. It’s like there is always something, or someone, or even myself as I have built up so much strength, that is constantly there so I don’t crash and burn.
I know there are a lot of people out there that have taken their own lives due to struggle. And I’m not one to say that I have ever experienced such a dark cloud before to believe that this is it. That there is no way out. My heart truly goes out to these beautiful souls that thought that that was it for them. Again, I don’t know what it feels like to be in that state of mind. But I have seen how cruel and hard this world can be. But I choose to see the beauty. I chose to open my eyes up to whatever it is that makes me happy and I grasped onto it. For me, that’s my family and friends, the beach, listening to the birds, exercising, being outdoors, reading an amazing book and going out for food. It’s all the little things in life that feeds my soul.
We all face hardships. Whether that be a mental illness, trauma, death, disease, something life has unexpectedly thrown at you and just everyday struggles. We all have a choice in life. You could choose to let a cruel situation tear you down, a person/relationship, or the thoughts you battle. But ask yourself this… What is it serving me? What am I going to get out of staying in this? Can I rise above it? Can I turn it around and use what’s happened to make me stronger? We are only human and we are allowed to feel every emotion and scream and yell at how unfair life can be. We’re allowed to hit rock bottom. I’ve learnt how important it is to feel and show emotions. You have to in order to move through situations. But it’s so crucial we don’t stay there and make that our lives, you know? Choose good, choose happy, choose positive and choose to seek help. And whether that means you really have to look for it, then do it. Make changes where you need to and allow yourself to grow.
Please, if you are going through struggles too, whatever they may be, find your happy places. Search for it. Dig deep. It is sooo worth it. It is so worth doing the work and pulling yourself out from that dark cloud. It may seem like that light at the end of the tunnel is so out of reach right now and you can barely see it, but small steps in the right direction is better than nothing. And before you know it, you’ll look back and realise how far you have actually come. And you’ll feel a feeling of excitement and urge that you just want to keep going forward and to keep fighting, because you know that what’s on the other side is going to be so so amazing and like one massive breath of fresh air! And because you are WORTH it.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to experience set backs and bumps in the road. It’s all part of the journey. It also doesn’t mean that you won’t crash and burn again along the way. But always make sure you keep picking yourself back up. Forward is forward and the more you continue to go that way, the closer you get to whatever goal it is you are aiming for. And you’ll start feeling bits of joy and happiness as that dark cloud starts to lift and the light starts to shine in, meanwhile all those old layers are dropping away,
In a previous blog, I wrote about MY 5 top tips to leading a more positive life which are a few things that have helped me along the way. Everyone faces their own kinds of struggle through life, and this is just my story and how I dealt and am still dealing with it. And you might not understand the feelings people go through when they have a cancer diagnosis, just like I may not understand someone else’s struggles and that’s okay! Everyone faces different hurdles. And I’ve always had the mindset that there is someone always worse off than me. It doesn’t make what I’m going through any easier, but it could be worse. And that’s why the best thing we can all try and do for one another is to be kind and gentle and to check in on our loved ones even if you struggle to find the words, a simple “how are you feeling today?” can actually go a long way, and won’t go unappreciated.
Everything that I have faced and everything that I have felt, and this cancer diagnosis doesn’t make me any different from the rest of the world. It doesn’t make me damaged or broken. It doesn’t make me unapproachable. If anything, it makes me brave and strong. It’s up to YOU to make a choice to change. We all have that ability and that strength in us. It is there. And there are so many beautiful people out there that care and just want to help and be there for one another.
You are not alone