Once Upon a Time…
There was someone who had a story to share. Our grandparents shared stories of their childhood. Our kids came home from school with stories, good or bad, to share. Our friends told stories of their vacations. Those of us with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have powerful stories to share. In fact, you’re probably thinking of a story right now.
Remember the day you were diagnosed? How did you feel? Do you remember the day when something just didn’t feel right, physically? What was it like seeing a neurologist for the first time? MS often rears its ugly head when we’re young and starting a career. It can cause us to question our future. It may take us years to accept a diagnosis and to feel comfortable sharing our story. I know. I was THAT person!
I love telling stories. I share my thoughts and feelings through poetry and short stories. But sharing them was not always easy. Looking back on my diagnosis, I wish I had had a mentor … someone who heard those same words, who had endured the testing and who had experienced the rollercoaster ride of emotions. I was diagnosed in 1992 and there were a lot of questions surrounding MS. I was scared and in denial. I wanted to wish it away and pretend there was nothing wrong. Little did I realize that by not sharing my stories, I was depriving myself of meeting people who shared my diagnosis.
What Makes a Good Storyteller?
I’m sure you know at least one. They usually talk slowly and with expression. They almost always have something exciting to tell, an unusual life experience, or a milestone. They tell their story in such detail that you almost feel like you’re standing in their shoes. They set the scene. Was there a storm? Were you newly engaged? Storytellers don’t just tell a story, they show it! And, they are engaging!
All stories have a beginning. Where does yours start? For me, it’s when my fingertips went numb, which led to finding a neurologist, which led to testing, and so on and so forth. (That’s a story for another post!) Next comes a conflict … a challenge you had to face. How did you tell others about your diagnosis? From here your story reaches a climax. You’ve come to terms with your disease and now you have to act on it. How did you deal with exacerbations? Engage your reader and help them see you as the person they once were. They want to relate. Finally, your story should have a resolution. How have you changed? How have you grown?
Ask yourself lots of questions! Who was I before I was diagnosed, and who am I now? How has MS changed me? What have I learned? I use poetry in my blog to share my feelings about MS. I find that through poems, I can be honest and colorfully descriptive. I recently met someone who found me through my blog. She lives nearby, is about my age, has MS and plays piano, as I do. She reached out and now we are friends. My story actually related to someone. And what a wonderful feeling it is to know you are not alone!
It’s Your Turn!
Grab a notebook and a pen (I have my favorite). Jot down your thoughts. Ask the questions. What are you scared of? What are you proud of? Record your ideas, your transitions, and your accomplishments. Scribble in it, laugh at it, and cry on it. Be honest. Be YOU.
Your words are magical. And, there are people out there just waiting to digest them. Of course, it’s your choice to share them or not. But know that your story can touch lives like you’ve never realized. Celebrate the journey and know that your story is helping others find the courage to move on. You can be that special friend that someone hasn’t met yet!
Sharing Is Connecting and Healing!
It took me years to accept this new person I had become, a person with MS, but I learned to shake off the fear and take charge of my health and my feelings. I went from being a follower to being a leader. I went from being weak to being strong. I listened to other people’s stories. I discovered what was so engaging in what they had to say that I decided that I wanted to share my stories as well. I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people newly diagnosed. I wanted to help … to be their shoulder to cry on.
I hope you find the courage to tell your story. Shout it from the highest peak. Know that it will touch the lives of many, including your own.