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The Importance of Sharing Our Stories in Life With a Health Condition

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“Share your story” is something I hear often. Many people think they are not interesting enough, that people don’t care what they have to say, or simply are not ready to speak widely about circumstances that have shaped them or the struggles they deal with. I have been in each one of these stages and can relate to all of them. However, when you are ready, sharing your story is such a vital piece of advocacy. It is something you can do to create change.

When you share your story of mental health you draw attention to the disparities in treatment, the challenges with insurance coverage, and you put a face on the subject.

When you share your story of chronic illness you draw attention to employment discrimination, broken medical systems, and you put a face on the subject.

When you share your fears that your children and grandchildren will be unsafe on a planet where we are destroying the climate, you draw attention to corporate greed, and you put a face on the subject.

When you tell people about your experiences with discrimination and racism you draw attention to the police culture, to the educational system’s flaws, to the underlying attitudes that are pervasive all around the country/world, an you put a face on the subject.

When you speak out about sexual assault you bring attention to the rape culture, the problems in sentencing, the need for victims’ services, and you put a face on the subject.

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Those who create laws, those who lobby for/against laws (namely corporations), economists, statisticians do so in ways that remove people from the problem.  They dehumanize issues by rationalizing it as economic savings. They claim to be unable to change something because of limits. They have proven it is on us. They have shown they are looking out for other interests. Whether it be making the big money, getting reelected, or preventing the government from making regulations that don’t suit their interests.

When you tell your story, you are rising. You are showing the world that people are impacted by these choices. When enough of us do this, it matters. I believe in the power of storytelling to make a change.  If you are not ready to do so, start small. Storytelling does not need to be something we shout in crowds — it can be a conversation with a friend, a blog post, a letter. You have control of your story and your story has power.

Getty image by AndreyPopov.

Originally published: July 7, 2020
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