I read an interesting article a couple of days ago that I can't get out of my head. It discussed the power of storytelling to improve health outcomes in medical patients.
I don't think it's any secret that telling your own story can be emotionally healing. There is a whole branch of psychotherapy dedicated to narrative healing. But did you know that reading about someone else's story can also be healing? Not just comforting, but that it can heal disease? I didn't know that. But it makes perfect sense.
Just as stress can make you sick, empathy, connection, and a sense of meaning can help you heal.
It led me to search out other articles on the topic and I lost a good half a day in reading them. I came across this study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It followed 300 African-American patients with hypertension and found that when patients were shown videos of similar patients sharing their own stories of illness, it helped to control their high blood pressure as effectively as medication.
I had a discussion about this with a couple of friends, one of whom is a pediatrician. He works with some very ill children. He agreed that stories were powerful and made the comment that he wished that the parents of his patients had such stories to listen to – to comfort, to explain, to show a way.
When I heard that, a light bulb went off in my head. There are so many blogs written by amazing women and men telling their own stories of dealing with physical and emotional disease and/or trauma. They tell first hand what it is like to live with depression, infertility, suicide, chronic illness, the loss of a child, and so much more.
And while those of us in the blogging world are familiar with these blogs, the average person on the street (or in the hospital) is not. So why not gather together links to all these blogs in one place, which can then provide a resource for those looking for some comfort and guidance?
I've decided I'm going to dedicate a page here on Wanderlust to such a directory. Off the top of my head I know of probably 20 blogs I could include. Once I have a sizable list, I can share it with interested healthcare providers as a resource for their patients.
What I'd like you to do is to send in to me any blogs, including your own, that would be appropriate for such a directory. What I'm looking for are personal blogs that deal with chronic or serious illness, or really any kind of trauma that might feel leave a person feeling isolated or confused.
I know when my ex came under criminal investigation last year I felt incredibly isolated. While there are websites that deal with domestic violence and/or sexual trauma, there are not a lot of resources for someone whose spouse is headed to prison for child pornography. I didn't think there was another person in the world who had experienced such a thing and was writing about it (as it turns out, there was at least one).
But the truth is that people are arrested every day for child pornography. We know that from reading the news. And I can't tell you how many people land on my blog after doing a google search for “husband going to prison”.
People are out there. People are looking. I want to make it easy for them to find some help.
If you want to submit a blog, either your own or someone else's, here's what I'd like you to do:
- Let me know the url and the topic(s) it deals with.
- Make sure the blog makes it easy for a reader to find posts on the topic (ie, they use labels or tags with the keyword or have a dedicated page at the top, such as the 'Violence to Healing' tab above). I don't want to direct someone to a blog to look for posts on depression, for instance, and have them click around forever trying to find them.
- Either leave the information in the comments or email it to me. I've set up a special email address to collect the links: healing @ kristinbrumm.com
- Share this post with anyone who might be able to add to the list.
I'll compile the directory and let you know when it goes live.
I'm excited. I really want to do this. Every day someone, somewhere is diagnosed with a serious illness, feels suicidal, is a victim of domestic violence, loses a child, loses a spouse, struggles with depression or anxiety or addiction. The list goes on and on.
I want people to know they are not alone.
Because despite how it may feel, we are not alone. None of us. There are people out there going through the same thing. We just need to be able to find them.