During the peak of my anxiety disorder as a teenager, the first thing I did was turn to the web. I sought information on what was going on, where to find services for help but first and foremost, to know I wasn’t alone. One of the most powerful ways technology has enhanced the lives of individuals is the ability to spread shared experiences to those all around the world, many of whom would feel lost and hopeless without access to these meaningful anecdotes about pain and triumph.
“…I am only further convinced of the power of storytelling to heal.”
As I ran web search after web search, the sites that helped me most in my time of need included those sites where people just like me shared their experience of anxiety, including details of their panic attacks and OCD. Those stories were too few and far between, so I decided to start the first online mental health community for teens with anxiety and other mental health issues, Anxiety In Teens, when I was a teenager. Since that time, I have heard thousands of stories from teens and parents, and I am only further convinced of the power of storytelling to heal. As you explore and even develop your own ways to tell your story, I encourage you to share the details along your journey with others.
Here are three important reasons to consider telling your story:
- Humans Think in Stories
Research shows it. In fact, it’s what sets us apart from all other creatures. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your story may inspire action on the part of many others if you take the route of storytelling instead of fact sharing alone. Stories are so powerful that you can challenge someone’s assumptions about their own hopelessness when it comes to health and well being. And, when it’s online, one post can affect many more than you could have ever realized.
- People Share Stories
Fortunately, your powerful story can spread quickly through our connected world via the Internet to those who need to hear it. Especially when it comes to issues and ailments that are highly-stigmatized, this is what needs to happen to expand awareness for your cause to both who have experienced it and those who have not. When others can hear another human tell these details and real experiences, they understand the true nature of the issue or illness, as well as the hope that recovery and joy are possible. One precaution: you may be overwhelmed with the positive feedback!
- Sharing Leads to Insight in the Past and Future
It takes courage and motivation to reflect back on your ups and downs and share with them others. But, even if you decide not to publish it, one of the great benefits of the writing process alone is to see how far you’ve come and an opportunity to understand yourself better. You may find insights you hadn’t noticed at the time or see your challenges in new light and with more perspective today. When using CaringBridge, you have the privacy of discrete journal entries as well as the flexibility to share as many or few details as you are comfortable with to inform others of your journey.
Take a moment to stop and look back on how far you’ve come and then articulate your milestones so far. When you choose to share your story online, your impact will run further than you could have imagined while celebrating your successes this far.
In what ways has sharing your story impacted yourself and others? Share in the comments section below.
CaringBridge bonus! If you’re a parent of teen with anxiety, to get early exclusive access to the new AiT parent resource from this CaringBridge blog post, visit this link.