“If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable”

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That’s a quote from Mr. Roger’s. You know, the slow speaking, calm, quiet, cardigan wearing man that had the TV show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I saw the movie today It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood. It is a movie based on an article written about Mr. Roger’s in Esquire Magazine. The author, who was struggling with a lot of pent up anger and pain, interviewed Fred Roger’s for a “fluff” story that turned out to be an indepth look at his own life thanks to the insights and encouragement provided by Fred Rogers.

Talking about our feelings can be a challenge. Especially if they involve sadness, anger, frustration and pain.I know this first hand. I’ve always had a hard time communicating how I feel…at least verbally. Problem is, I get very emotional when I open up and that doesn’t help. In fact people often think I am too “dramatic” as the tears roll down my face. Unfortunately that’s just who I am. I can’t change that as much as I’ve tried.

Writing for me has been my saving grace. It is much easier for me to express my feelings and share the pain and anguish that cancer has brought to my life, while sitting in front of a keyboard. When I write, I still cry. In fact I have to pause often as I can’t see the computer screen or keyboard through the haze of tears. But at least no one else has to see me as I sob and blow my nose. It ain’t pretty!

There are times however, that things have to be said in person or as close as you can. On April 30, 2018 when I was diagnosed with cancer, I had to pull myself together to start telling my family and friends the “news”. When I reflect on it now, I think I was pretty “together”. I think it was because in reality I was numb. It took a bit for the news to really sink in. Also, I needed to be stoic as I didn’t want to upset anyone. If I was crying when I told them it would have been worse for them. They needed to see me as strong. They needed to know I was going to be ok. They needed to not see or hear in my voice, just how frightened I was. So was I actually “together?” Far from it.

Opening up to others, even to those who we love and trust, can be very difficult. It is hard to be vulnerable; to expose oneself; to appear weak or lost. But we need to. We have to in order to survive. We cannot live our lives with things bottled up inside. It will only eat away at us until the mental and emotional duress starts to cause physical ramifications too. Anxiety, insomnia, depression, stomache issues, headaches….the list is endless.

I have been privileged to have worked with a client who started a foundation to help teens who are struggling with mental illness. The foundation has a scholarship program to help the kids with post secondary tuition fees. As a Board member I was on the selection committee and therefore had to read hundreds of applications. These applications included an essay from each applicant that talked about their lives and the pain they faced everyday dealing with their mental health. The stories I read were incredible, tragic and inspirational all at the same time. I have often thought about these kids and their stories when I have felt at my lowest. What they have had to deal with everyday is something that I can only imagine how difficult it must be. I have come to realize that there is no health without mental health.

We owe it to ourselves and each other to ensure we are taking care of our emotions as much as our bodies. We need not to feel ashamed if we are hurting more than just physically. We are here on this planet together. To love each other, take care of each other and to celebrate each other. Being vulnerable and communicating  our feelings be them good or bad is something to be encouraged and celebrated. If we talk with each other then we can learn to understand each other better and therefore can help each other when we need help. It’s something I have had to learn the hard way and something I still struggle with. In order to heal we must expose the wound, clean it and then work on mending it. As Mr. Rogers so wonderfully put “if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.”

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President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.

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