Monday, August 13, 2012

The healing power of storytelling

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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:
  1. Let me know the url and the topic(s) it deals with.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.





48 comments:

  1. Fantastic idea and confirms what I have long believed - that writing can heal and be a massive force for good.

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    1. I think like any form of communication, it can be used for benefit or detriment (of course). But I'm so intrigued by the ways it can used to facilitate healing.

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  2. Love it! Reminds me of BandBackTogether.com. Have you been there? Definitely include it on your list. xxx

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    1. LOVE Band Back Together. Did a small fundraiser for them last year as part of Speak out. They will definitely be going on the list! x

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  3. Love it. I will help anyway I can. I do this narrative therapy, have been for years. I know the power of connectin people. It's amazing. I do it all the time in the context of therapy. This has gotten me thinking...

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    1. Excellent! Please send me links to any blogs you think would be appropriate and share with whomever else might be able to help. Yay!

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  4. Are you interested in my blog on scrapbooking a loss? it deals with losing my son to SIDS. There's not a lot on there so far, but I can work on that.
    http://scrapourangels.blogspot.com.au/
    This is such an amazing idea, Kristin. Brilliant in its' simplicity. (aren't all the best ideas?)
    I hunted high and low for baby loss blogs a couple of years ago, there were a couple that I found really helpful, and I'll dig out the links for you.
    x

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    1. Yes, I absolutely want to include yours. Kirrily's 'In Your Words' is another good resource, and I think Christie (Childhood 101) has a site as well that deals with the loss of a child. Thanks so much, Toni. xo

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  5. What a lovely idea. I don't know if it's what you're after, but I have topics such as depression, grief, autism, chronic pain etc.

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    1. Yes, I will include yours. Thanks hon. x

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  6. You did it!!! THIS is where you were headed, I get it now. Amazing woman.

    Well of course I'd love you to add the link to my foundling little resource. It's slow going but I have faith in the power of sharing stories - you know that, it's what we connected over in the first place I think! Is this the sort of link you were after:

    http://www.kirrilywhatman.com/share-your-story

    Also, for people who want to read more into my own story: http://www.kirrilywhatman.com/about-me/memoir

    Many thanks for doing this. It is so necessary for the world. xxx

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  7. Well, you know where to find me. I have a page that sums up my story here:
    http://www.singularinsanity.com/p/start-reading-here.html and I use tags for mental health and psychological abuse. There is also a search function. It is eery how similar our stories are, while my ex didn't have any child pornography anywhere, his conduct in relation to a 15 year old girl was enough to land him in prison. To this day I don't know the extent of his charges and frankly, I don't want to know. So glad that he has moved on. Shame about the woman who he now has convinced about his innocence and general "awesomeness".

    As you know, I started blogging to tell my story and connect with others. The support I received was amazing and, together with the telling, has been a huge part of my healing.

    Good on you for starting this resource. I will definitely direct people to it, when ready...

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    1. Dorothy, for some reason I thought there was CP involved in your ex'es case. I'll absolutely list your blog. Thanks for the links.

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  8. Love this idea. We need more resources like this available. N x

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    1. Thanks Naomi. Do you think your blog would be a good resource for depression? I know it's something you've written about recently.

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  9. What a fantastic idea K. I have just started a new blog about my diabetes journey, or the journey to my acceptance of having the disease. It might not quite fit the role yet as it is so new and I am not sure how much I am willing to share yet. But I will certainly consider this as something I might do in the near future. That is of course if you think it fits the bill. xxx

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    1. I think it would be great. I'm not aware of any other blogs that discuss that particular topic. x

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  10. Love, love, love....!

    You know me- rrsahm.com for mental health, clearly tagged. I'll share the link to this in a post soon xxxxxx

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  11. You are amazing. Truly amazing... So glad to have found you across the cyber space. Want to give you a big hug. :) x

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    1. Thanks Vicky, I too am so glad we 'met'. x

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  12. As ever you boldly carry on impressing me. I just bimble along being daft.

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    1. Thanks Glen, and you bring us the gift of humor!

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  13. This is beautiful. And I believe n story telling for healing. My blog helps me - so much o I did my thesis on it :)
    CarlyFindlay.blogspot.com

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    1. Excellent Carly, I think your blog would be a great resource.

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  14. Goosebumps K, goosebumps.... I will share it, and come back later to add a few I can think of xoxoxo

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  15. Thinking of others as you always do... beautiful lady with the giving soul.
    I know reading blogs have helped me.
    Goodluck with your wonderful idea.xx

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    1. Thanks Deb - you're such a sweetheart. I hope you are doing well. x

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  16. What a wonderful idea. I don't know if you know this blog already: http://aninchofgray.blogspot.com/

    The author lost her son almost a year ago in an accident and has written extensively about this tragedy during the past year. The writing is breathtaking and the blog is nicely organized.

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    1. Hi Jessica, I hadn't heard of this blog but I went over and read her story and I'm sitting here now in tears. I can't even imagine the horror. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  17. Thank you for wanting to include my blog. Thank God for the ability to write about our feelings.

    I think my blog could be better organized to get to the pertinent info, but I can work on that.

    aninchofgray.blogspot.com

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    1. Anna, you already tag your posts, so if you activated the label widget on Blogger, people could easily click on a label to access all the related posts. One easy way to do it, anyway. Take care. x

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  18. I didn't realize the power of storytelling to heal until I started my blog. I'd been working with homeless in San Diego who were experiencing it by telling their stories, and I realized I needed to do the same.

    I've been sharing mine at http://ihaveavoicetoo.com/. I was in prison for 2.5 years for an internet pharmacy, and before that (oddly enough) I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I write a lot about prison, anxiety, depression, feeling worthless, broken, less than, and much more. A list of categories can be found on the right side of my site but I'm not sure how easy it is to navigate my blog. I'm a new blogger.

    If you have the time or inclination check it out. I'll check out some of the above mentioned blogs. Thank you for what you do.

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    1. Thank you Matthew. I'll definitely include your blog on the list. Thanks for reading.

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  19. What a fabulous idea. I've used narrative myself as a way of dealing with recovering from trauma in my life. Please include my blog, I use labels and write about subjects including depression, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, fibromyalgia, arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, single parenting, Mindfulness, and divorce.

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    1. Absolutely Bronnie. And thanks for your nice email, too. x

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  20. Oh how I miss blogging. This is such a fabulous idea, though! I look forward to being able to read it all.

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    1. I'm very excited about it, too. We have over 100 blogs now!

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  21. Thank you!

    My stories are told under this link http://www.sillymummy.com/category/parenthood/autism/
    My son is 4.5 years old and was diagnosed last year.

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  22. I have failed failed failed trying to post a comment. I would love to be considered to be included. www.msfyk.blogspot.com. I write about depression/anxiety/abuse. I think what you're doing is so great - when you're dealing with these darker issues it can be so isolating and lonely. Reading blogs like yours has been such a lifeline. Thanks! Krissy

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    1. You didn't fail, it came through! Comments on older posts go into moderation and it sometimes takes me a little while to notice they're there. Hopping over to your blog now...

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  23. Hi,

    You are right, there are very places for people to go and read other people's experience when they learn that their partner has been accessing child pornography. This is why I set up PartnerSPEAK--stopping pornographic exploitation against kids, because there was no other place that was specifically for people in this situation.

    PartnerSPEAK is a forum for women affected by their partner/husband’s interest in child pornography. It aims to be a safe space for women to come together and share experiences and concerns, and to ask for advice and support from one another. PartnerSPEAK has been created by women who have experienced living with a partner involved in child pornography for other women in the same situation.

    PartnerSPEAK is a forum (rather than a blog) but there is a section that is specifically for stories and experiences www.partnerspeak.org

    We focus on, predominantly, Australian support services and links but the stories and experiences are relevant worldwide. I'm also trying to include a few resources for other places in the world.

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  24. I love love love this idea! thanks so much for putting this together and having this out in the world for us all to use it as a resource.

    My blog is: http://metaphoricalmarathons.com/

    The topics it covers the most is PTSD, suicide (I am a suicide attempt survivor) and chronic fatigue - all of which leave you feeling isolated and alone and in need of people that 'get it'. Blogging has done that for me, big time. Amongst this writing is a lot about healing and FUN too.

    Would be really honoured to have my blog as part of this collection. Big love and keep up the great work. x

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