All Health Activists are storytellers. Each time you sit down at your computer to write, or explain your health condition to a friend or family members, or even visit your doctor, you are telling a story. Health Activists are the ultimate storytellers, finding innovative ways to communicate the daily trials of tribulations of living with their condition, navigating the healthcare system, and managing relationships with family and friends. This week, Health Activists discussed the power of using storytelling in their health communities as well as the Do’s and Don’ts of telling a good story.
How does storytelling enrich communication and relationships?
Storytelling has been a rich tradition in cultures all over the world. Before the written word, stories were how history was passed down from generation to generation. It was a way of preserving tradition as well as a method of instruction. julianna12369: a story can get a message across so simply where laborious explanations fail. People love stories and often learn by accident #HAchat. Storytelling is an invaluable tool for Health Activists as well as the gateway to the online health community.
KatharineS84: I first got involved in the health community by sharing my story. Letting people into my life w/#cysticfibrosis. Sharing my story helps make people aware about a disease many are unfamiliar w/, but in story form rather than definition. #HAchat
Personal narratives not only help others going through the same experience or suffering from the same condition, but they help make big medical terms understandable for family and friends. Personal narratives help break down misconceptions and misunderstandings and promote awareness.
What makes a good story?
In Health Activism, a good story comes from being honest and expressing real emotion.
That being said, everyone’s style is different. One of the greatest things about Health Activists is that many started writing for themselves; blogs become an outlet during tough times, a way to vent, or to keep family and friends updated on new developments in their health. What’s truly amazing is that through storytelling, Health Activists have become such an inspiration to others in their communities. Not only do they offer up extremely personal details of their lives for everyone to read, they have become sources of advice, hope and inspiration for others. . TiffanyAndLupus Sharing my story helps me rise above my pain. I write with the hope that someone somewhere will read it & learn something new. #hachat
No, not every story needs to have a happy sunny ending. Some stories are dark, especially as it pertains to health. Sometimes there isn’t a next chapter. Some stories don’t have a happy ending. No one is looking for blind optimism when they read stories, but rather a reason to hope. Remember that even when your story isn’t positive or happy, readers still draw wisdom and inspiration from your words; they see new ways to deal with pain or hopelessness. Remember that everyone has a unique interpretation of the world around them, and that by staying true to your Health Activist voice and mission, you will surely have an impact through your writing.
Where else does storytelling come into play in your online community?
One of the best times to tell a story is when you’re at the doctor. Stories bring a personal dimension to any condition. It helps put a face on a disease, and makes it easier to understand what living with a disease such as lupus or fibromyalgia or diabetes is like. Sure, you could go to your doctor and read off a list of symptoms and side effects, but these are just details of a larger story. What are symptoms without triggers? How can doctors begin to make a diagnosis without a snapshot of your overall health and lifestyle?
What should your story focus on?
Finding your voice is important to both your blog and your community. You have to decide how much you want to share, how often, and to what level of detail. Some communities are more open than others, and some Health Activists share everything. Others are more guarded due to stigma and embarrassment, and the stories that result from each community will have entirely different tones and messages. So what should your story focus on? Health Activists outlined what they like to cover in their stories and why:
Do’s & Don’ts of Health Activist Storytelling
Finally, as seasoned storytellers, Health Activists had some Do’s and Don’ts to share with those just beginning to tell their stories:
||MakeThisLookAwe Try not to attack anyone. Give people the benefit of a doubt, that whatever went wrong was not intentional. Be understanding. #HAchat
What are your do’s and don’ts? What do you think makes a good story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your tips!
Interested in sharing your story but don’t know how? Tune in next Tuesday at 3 PM EST for our next Health Activist chat on starting your own health blog!