Just this evening, I was at an open mic storytelling event in Santa Fe, and I told the story of being a nurse blogger. It was fun to share my experience of blogging about my life as a nurse, and people always seem interested in learning what nurses' lives are really like.
What's your story?
Now, plenty of people write blogs, books and articles, and those are wonderful ways to tell your story. There are books and blogs about living with cancer, arthritis, chronic pain---even diabetes.
Having said that, you don't have to write a book or a blog in order to share about your life with diabetes. If writing's your thing, that's great. But if writing doesn't work for you, don't despair; people still want---and need---to hear your story.
Diabetes is a disease shared by many people throughout the world, and for every person who understands what it's like to live with a chronic illness like diabetes, there are thousands who don't really get it. Your story is essential to the weaving of the tapestry that promotes understanding of the disease, and your personal experience is the key.
One of the best ways to tell your story is to do so one on one, face to face with another human being. Your story doesn't have to reach millions. It doesn't even have to reach hundreds. If you tell your story to just one person, if one individual "gets it", then you're helping to advance the cause of understanding of a disease that, for many, is a shadowy mystery that only "other people" live with.
When you tell someone that you have diabetes, you're vulnerably demonstrating your courage in the face of adversity. When you open up and share the struggles, triumphs and frustrations of life with diabetes, you are potentially opening the eyes, hearts and minds of those whose eyes, hearts and minds need to be opened. You act as an ambassador, a guide, and you shine a light on the mystery of a disease, dispelling myths and putting a very human face on that mystery.
Let's face it. There are doctors who specialize in diabetes who may not really know what a diabetic person's life is really like. Does your doctor know how your diabetes impacts your sex life? Does he or she know what accommodations and arrangements you have to make in order to go on vacation, eat at a restaurant, or go on a date? Has your doctor heard your story?
And think about your friends and coworkers. How much do they know? How much do they understand? Do they pity you out of sheer ignorance? Do they make jokes that rub you the wrong way, jokes that are insensitive to your condition and challenges? Information and knowledge are powerful, and when you share authentically from your personal experience, you are educating and informing even as you dispel those myths that so many people harbor.
Telling your story is not about asking for pity, nor are you necessarily asking for understanding or support. You are sharing your experience openly, enlightening others' minds and shedding light where light needs to be shed. Plus, telling your story can also be therapeutic for you.
Remember, share your story with those who are truly open to hearing it. Weave that fabric of understanding, and help to grow the tapestry of knowledge and experience that is part of the collective mind of our society. Stories are powerful, and your story is as powerful as anyone else's.
Share your story with pride, humility and authenticity. It will enlighten us all.