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I grew up in a society where mental health was stigmatized, but cancer made me realize that it helps to speak up about these issues.
Before being diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, I didn't take my mental health seriously. It wasn't until about a couple of years later when it just hit me like a ton of bricks.
Up until recently,there has been a societal stigma around mental health; no one talked about it or wanted to admit when they needed help. Growing up, mental health struggles were something you kept a secret, and when someone had to go to the hospital for mental health reasons, it was said to be for other reasons
During my battle with cancer, I had a one-track mind, and that was to do what I had to do to get rid of cancer. I was focused on the physical aspects of the disease, not knowing that my mind was going through trauma just as much as my body was. Taking care of my mental health wasn't a thought for me, although I was under a lot of stress.
I didn't know until years after my diagnosis that I needed to seek a mental health professional. I’d be just driving down the road and bam here comes a panic attack. The feeling of panic, fear, sweating and fast heartbeat seemingly came out of nowhere. I thought I was having a heart attack.
I went to doctor after doctor and was told a variety of things and had several tests on my lungs and heart. Then I met the right doctor, and she ushered me in the right direction with addressing the anxiety, depression, and PTSD I was experiencing.
Here are five things cancer taught me about my mental health.
A cancer diagnosis can impact your emotional health greatly. Not just you but your family as well. I've been 15 years and counting cancer free, and I'm more aware of my mental health than ever before.
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