By Mike Jacquart
In the mental health realm, the letter D, as in Depression, can come before C, as in Cancer.
I only recently realized that after completing my book, Climbing out of Darkness: A Personal Journey into Mental Wellness (with Marina London LCSW) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BQ58KJH4?fbclid=IwAR27QzfHVTSHntSunkbciH_A4xcRz7Kuwor6hLwWlX9Hutc3IInh3dAaN9w
I never once mentioned the bladder cancer I was diagnosed with in 2019. There are several reasons why.
First, since my book focused on the depression and anxiety that I experienced through much of my life, particularly the problems that it posed for me in the working world, it stands to reason cancer was not an affliction that would have come to mind as readily.
And yet, when a doctor gives you a diagnosis of the dreaded C word, Cancer, wouldn’t anxiety have reared its ugly head as it had so many times in my past? Not necessarily. There are several reasons why. First and foremost my Christian faith tells me that when I die, thanks to Jesus dying for me on the cross, I will go to Heaven, so death is not terrifying for me. Was I apprehensive? Sure. Worried? Maybe. But sweating profusely and my blood pressure rising from anxiety after hearing the word “Cancer”? No.
After learning of the diagnosis, my wife consoled me that, “we would get through this together.” That helped, of course. Then came even better news. My physician informed me that he was confident he had removed the cancer in my bladder and that it was not invasive. As a result, he said that while I would need to undergo quarterly cystoscopy tests to ensure the cancer had not returned, if it hadn’t, the cystoscopies would suffice in terms of further treatment.
And thank God, a year later, it hadn’t! Lord willing, it won’t, either.
I need to stress that I did not write this post to boast or gain sympathy. For one thing, my diagnosis was admittedly “small potatoes” compared to a patient who faced typical cancer treatment lengthier and more in-depth than mine.
As men, we are taught to keep our emotions in check, “suck it up and tough it out” after learning we have cancer. Face it head-on, and then lick it. In of itself, a positive approach can be a very good thing (male or female).
The problem is, as men, we’re raised to deal with most any setback in life in a stoic, “be-tough” manner. But anyone reading this post knows “sucking it up and toughing it out” is NOT something that works with a mental health challenge such as depression or anxiety. A man suffering from chronic headaches would probably not forego medication to hold them at bay. Nor would a diabetic refrain from taking insulin.
A person can no more resolve clinical depression or another behavioral disorder on their own than go without insulin or leave those headaches untreated! Mental health IS health.
If you need treatments from an oncologist to rid your body of cancer, why would a person think they can also cure a mental problem? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly 58 million Americans experience a mental health impairment in a given year.
Since mental health conditions are that common, it stands to reason that D, in fact, can come before C.