Day 15 – Nominate someone for a Health Activist Award bit.ly/haawards12 & write a post about why you nominated them!
If I could, I’d nominate everyone who has ever spoken about their experiences with a chronic illness to anyone who would listen. This includes those who continue to write although their posts never get a comment or a like; although no one seems to notice their presence: they continue to write because the message is important, not the acclaim.
During this month’s health blog challenge, for example, I’ve read the stories of many brave people. Often they tell remarkable stories of resilience. Sometimes, these experiences seem to be lost in the void: in the enormity of a busy and stressful world. I know I’ve often felt that way over the years, and yet, I still continue to talk.
I don’t know why we do. It’s lonely out here. It’s vulnerable. Sometimes we stand up and tell truths we were never meant to tell. We tell truths that we’ve been told are just ‘our versions’ and not really the truth. We tell truths of things that can’t be seen and seem too fantastic to believe. We tell truths about those who see us and those who don’t. We do these things when we could just write it in a diary, lock it in a drawer and not risk exposure or controversy.
So why do we make our truths public? I don’t know why others do, but I think I know why I do. Part of my reason is to counteract a lifelong feeling of invisibility. The older I get, the more I understand that life is transient. We have a relatively short time to make our voices heard, to make our mark on the world, and to make some kind of difference. The time we have is precious.
Sometimes (often times with a chronic illness) we are alone. We are not part of a wider community, sitting in a circle passing down our wisdom to younger generations. As we age, we become marginalized further as we join a new demographic: the elderly. We complain that we are not heard, just as we never listened to our elders. We don’t talk across generations because we think there are more differences than similarities. One day, we realize that we were wrong. My father has been gone some 17 years, and I haven’t seen my mother in 12 years. It astonishes me how much we failed to communicate. Perhaps that’s another part of why I write.
In this solitude, modern health activists sit in our rooms somewhere in the world. Our computer or touch pad or other device becomes our voice. We type our experiences. We laugh and cry. We persist although our fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders – and everything else – hurt! We don’t always know why we are awake at 1am, but sleep eludes us. We think of something funny or serious or wondrous to tell. Sometimes we just blather like I’m doing now.
Circles spring up everywhere, sometimes coming together under a common umbrella to talk. In the end, we find we have more commonalities than we believed possible, despite the differences in our ailing minds and bodies. We share a human experience, even if we’re alone.
We write to share our histories: stories that likely won’t be passed down from generation to generation. We write because it’s lonely out here. We still hope and dream, and sometimes it seems that only words are the agent of change.
Most importantly, we write because there’s still so much to change.