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My ‘Mighty’ Challenges: 4 Things I Do When I Read a Story on The Mighty

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I originally came across The Mighty community during an internet trawl following my diagnosis with CFS/ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). The articles offered a structure I found far more appealing than forums but at the same time gave useful insight into what I could expect from life as a person with a chronic illness. From being purely supportive, the site then gave me a sense of purpose as I realized I could submit my own stories, also enabling me to achieve — in a small way — my childhood dreams of having my writing published.

Whilst I access The Mighty most days, either through the website, Facebook or Twitter, it’s only recently that I’ve started to make the most of my daily interactions. Perhaps many of you already do the following things, but if not, here’s a handy list of challenges for you to try out the next time you visit The Mighty.

1. Hit the heart

There’s a huge amount of literature around at the moment about appreciating the small things. I feel there is no shame in admitting I get excited when a reader “likes” an article I have written. As someone living in England, I find it particularly exciting to check the “likes” on my most recent story before I go to bed and then compare this to the number of “likes” I have the following morning. Despite having a basic grasp of geography and time zones, I still find it bizarre to think that there are people reading and liking my story whilst I sleep/lie awake trying to ignore the pains in my chest!

I’m sure I can’t be the only contributor who feels this way, so I urge you to hit the heart symbol after reading any of the articles on the site so we can share the love with everyone who has opened up about their experiences.

2. Leave a message

If I’m being honest, I have always been the queen of “reading and running.” Sometimes, even if I thoroughly identified with the story I’ve read, I don’t leave a comment because I’m too tired, too busy or — I’ll admit it — just can’t be bothered. But I know from the point of view of the writer, it’s lovely to receive messages from readers. It can feel like a real lifeline to know someone else is experiencing the same symptoms or challenges as you. So the next time you read a story, I urge you to take a moment to leave a comment, even if it’s simply to thank the person for sharing their story. We all need to be heard, and it’s nice to know someone is “listening.” I’ve recently made a point of devoting a small amount of time each day to comment on a few of the stories I read, and hope that you will start to do the same.

3. Expand your knowledge

As I would imagine is the case for many in the Mighty community, I have a tendency to focus on the stories that relate to my specific condition. Unsurprisingly, I find I identify most with these and they often leave me feeling reassured or inspired. My challenge to you is to move beyond your usual topic areas and read stories linked to other conditions. Perhaps you could do as I am doing and choose two or three you don’t really know anything about and focus on these for a while. Unfortunately, one of the reasons there is so much stigma surrounding chronic illness and disability is the lack of knowledge. By reading about other conditions, we can in turn improve the knowledge of those around us, hopefully leading to acceptance for all.

4. Share, share, share!

Whenever one of my stories is published, I immediately post a link to my Facebook page so my friends and family can enjoy my success (or I can show off, depending on how you prefer to view it)! However, it’s only recently that I’ve started sharing stories from other people (I know, I feel like I’ve been selfish) about conditions other than my own. I know not everyone on my friends list will click on the link and read each story, but I also know there are likely to be lots of people who, unbeknownst to me, are affected by some of the conditions — particularly those relating to mental health. In my mind, even if my link manages to reach one person, it will have been worthwhile and will hopefully help The Mighty community to grow. I would encourage you to choose at least one article a week to share via social media — perhaps selecting one you feel would be relevant for one of your friends or one that resonates with your experiences. The more we share, the better informed everyone will be.

Now I’m going to sit back and hopefully watch all the “likes,” comments and shares roll in!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by Marco_Piunti

Originally published: June 29, 2017
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