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My Curiosity, Her Insight......

Thrown into this unexpected journey over two years ago, I continue to fight many of my own fears and anxiety. Many times I want to understand. Many times I want to pretend it never happened. Sometimes I feel perfectly fine. Sound familiar?

On this day I was able to chat with a childhood friend of mine. She also happens to be a therapist cha-ching lol! Lucky me. In fact, she is our very own W.A.Y.S. partnered therapist Kristine Mendenhall MA, LMFT #98103. I wanted to get some insight and understanding of the struggles we have in fostering our own mental health. Why it

tends to take a backseat to everything else in our lives.





Colette:

Throughout your career what have you seen as a common roadblock to people seeking therapy services?


Kristine:

I think a lot of people find therapy intimidating, or that what they are experiencing is not “ that big of a deal, or they should be able to handle it. Asking for help is one of the most vulnerable things that we can do. Cost is another, when insurance is not accepted many clients feel that it is too expensive.


Colette:

Is there a ‘time frame’ in which someone should seek therapy, for example, a time period after a traumatic experience, a death, diagnosis, etc.?


Kristine:

Absolutely not! Therapy is such a personal journey that a person can begin at any time in their lives. I often think that people feel that what they are going through is not a big deal, or someone else has it worse. Sometimes our lives can become overwhelming and seeking support from a neutral person can help in limiting that feeling. Personally, I feel that when something happens in our lives that pulls the rug out from underneath us, we need time to even get our head around that and that can happen at your own pace.


Colette:

Does there have to be an ‘event’ that has happened to justify one seeking treatment?


Kristine:

Not at all. People often seek the support of a therapist to help them make some adjustments to a life that is already pretty good. But, in my experience, something has happened to lead them in the direction of therapy, and that “something” could be anything.


Colette:

In your experience have you noticed people fearing a stigma being place upon them because they want or have sought treatment?


Kristine:

Yes. I think people often view therapy as negative, or that it makes them look weak cause they can’t handle something in their lives. I am a therapist and have been to my own personal therapy, talk about a stigma.


Colette:

In a forum such as ours with cancer patients, do you find therapy a beneficial treatment in the ongoing care?


Kristine:

YES!!!!! A cancer diagnosis puts you on this roller coaster of emotions, and there is no rule book on how you are supposed to feel. Your entire life has just changed by a few simple words from your doctor and the aftermath of that is life altering both physically and emotionally. You have everyone around you telling you how your life is going to be moving forward and even telling you how to feel, when you may not even know yourself.


Colette:

Is there other effective alternatives to one on one therapy that you would see as beneficial in a forum such as this?


Kristine:

Support groups and self care!


Colette:

From my experience with a cancer diagnosis, I found that the mental aspect of ‘cancer’ evoked much more in me mentally than just learning how to cope with the diagnosis. Do you find this common in these situations? Whether it be a diagnosis, traumatic event, etc.?


Kristine:

YES!!! As mentioned above there is no rulebook for this. You have just been told, “ you have cancer” and then all of the medical options are thrown at you often all at once and that can be so overwhelming, which can lead to depression and anxiety. This can increase your awareness of other aspects of your life that may not feel so right, for example, relationships with your family and friends.

A cancer diagnosis can throw you for a loop and may lead to an examination of other areas of your life that as I mentioned you may not have paid attention to before. It can also cause a drastic change in perspective, and lead to new feelings, both of which are completely normal.


Colette:

In my experience, I suffered an awful depression and fear ‘after’ treatment. Is this common?


Kristine:

Yes! I think that this is to be expected and very normal.


Colette:

How important is finding a balance of self-care and managing daily life?


Kristine:

This is key!!! When you are able to live a balanced life it can affect so many different other aspects, specifically, our relationships with those around us.


Colette:

Can you give us some final words of wisdom to foster a healthy mindset?


Kristine:

Allow yourself to be a priority!!!!! Life is busy, we spend so much time taking care of others and getting things done, but we place ourselves on the back burner and that can lead to so many other things. Begin each day by doing one thing just for you. And please remember that self care does not have to be some grand gesture or huge thing that takes a ton of time.



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