How a Year in The Mighty Community Has Changed My Life
I had my first article published on The Mighty a little over a year ago.
It was written in response to a prompt, and it didn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it was a big deal to me. It validated my experience as a person with an invisible illness and connected me to a compassionate community of people with similar experiences.
There may not have been any shaking of hands, but The Mighty introduced me to my peers.
I was moved, educated, and humbled by the experiences other warriors shared. Reading their stories empowered me to share my own. I found a voice for things I had previously been too ashamed to say. I wrote another story and then another one. Before I knew it I was squealing with delight over a T-shirt and a note I received in the mail.
The Mighty offered me a platform to speak and a place where I felt heard. But best of all it gave me the chance to help others like me feel understood. It restored the sense of purpose I had lost in my battle with chronic mental and physical illness.
Not long after my beloved T-shirt arrived, I read on social media that some people feel The Mighty exploits the ill and disabled by taking their work without offering payment.
Did you think you were reading the story of someone who feels exploited? How often is exploitation punctuated by connection, empowerment and a renewed sense of purpose? I don’t get paid, and I don’t feel exploited. I may not get paid in exchange for the articles I write, but I get a platform to speak and an audience I couldn’t otherwise reach (my social media game is pretty weak). When you’ve been silenced by an invisible illness, that’s a pretty big flipping deal.
Let me tell you how my life has changed since I started writing for The Mighty, even as my health remains predictably unpredictable.
1. I now blog monthly about bipolar disorder at bphope.com.
This may not seem like the pinnacle of achievement to everyone. But when I was a kid and people asked me what I’d like to do when I grew up, I told them I wanted to write. When I saw the bylines of columnists in the newspaper, I thought to myself, I want that. Dream come true! And it started with a response to a Mighty prompt.
2. I took the plunge and created a Twitter account (was I the last millennial to sign up?)
Admittedly, it’s a baby chick of an account, but it’s making my world bigger. Once I filtered out the noise, I realized how many important conversations were happening and how much valuable information was being shared. The links have connected me to solid articles. Although I sometimes log off feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s happening in the world, I don’t feel like my life is less than it should be (which is usually what other social media platforms do to me).
3. I’m participating in a research study for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
This is my forgotten illness. The symptoms are quiet compared to my other illnesses, which is why I decided to get involved. In this case, advocacy is going to be three months of me collecting urine samples to monitor ovulation, followed by six months in a control group, or one of two groups doing different types of exercise. I’m not the sort of person who is excited by the prospect of working with a personal trainer, but I am terribly excited to contribute to our knowledge about this illness.
4. I’m taking a course about anxiety.
The course is offered by my local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association and I’ve also just applied for a peer support internship at their Recovery College. I have the confidence to do this because I value my experiences with mental health and I know they can help others. I figured that out writing articles here.
The most important work we do in life isn’t done for money. If we are fortunate, we are repaid in kindness.
Thank you, The Mighty, for being kind to me.
How has The Mighty changed your life?
Photo credit: The Mighty