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5 Reasons to Speak Up About Your Health Struggles

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Dreamers are given the gift to believe, and believing is life-changing. Believing means we can be hopeful and confident about the future, and that’s what gets me through the roughest days. I have a supportive family and amazing friends, but still no one can really relate to what I’m going through. No one gets it until they get it. Plus, a rare version of a fairly common disease is a unique struggle. Not wanting anyone with any chronic condition to feel alone in their fight, I decided I will always talk about my health struggles.

Think about it — how do we learn about any subject? Someone somewhere talked about it. They wrote the article you looked up. They spoke at that conference you saw on the news. I blog, speak and post on social media to help others understand and to support others in similar situations. I’m also a member of a support group that I’ve been asked to help lead. Here are some reasons I advocate.

1. It’s easy. I think the best way to advocate is to not be shy about your medical issues. I have to use the bathroom a lot and sometimes leak. I often need the assistance of special undergarments because of my multiple sclerosis (MS). This isn’t the most comfortable subject to talk about, but I recently went in to work with a clear shopping bag of adult diapers, and for once, didn’t try to hide them in my purse. I told everyone why I need them. Increasing others’ awareness about MS can be gratifying.

2. You’ll strengthen your support system. I’ve made amazing friends in my support group, and when I publicly share my story, others become a part of my fight. Additionally, educating people is great because I feel understood.

3. You’ll heal emotional wounds — ones you may have not even know you had. Functioning with chronic illness in mainstream society is hard, and meeting people with similar stories is inspiring because you can see their successes.

4. You’re helping to find a cure. When people hear your story they may feel inspired to contribute to research for cures.

5. It’s a public service. Advocacy serves your community through education. You can feed off the inspiration of others. To become an advocate for your illness in your area, I recommend starting by contacting the appropriate organizations around you. If there isn’t one, start your own. Use social media. There are many support groups on these websites, which are handy for rough days when you can’t leave home.

If you find someone insensitive or uneducated about your medical circumstances, speak up. Politely and firmly, speak up. You are never too young or too old to raise your voice for yourself and others. Remember that.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us the moment you stood up for yourself or your child in regards to disability or disease, or a moment you wish you had? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 22, 2016
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