Today we have an empowerment-themed interview with wonderful Health Activist Annie Martin. Annie blogs over at Fragile Annie, where she focuses on moving past chronic illness into living well or, as her blog states boldly: “It’s Time To Get Over How Fragile You Are.” Her blog affirms this positive stance and it was a great experience to hear her take on our theme of empowerment and how she works to empower herself and those around her. Thanks so much for sharing with us, Annie! –Amanda
WEGO Health: How has the idea or goal of empowerment inspired you as a Health Activist?
Annie: When I first started my blogging journey, I was frustrated and needed to vent to someone who wasn’t in my direct family! I had already been sick for about 10 years, and had been treated horribly by so many doctors who stated that this illness was all in my head. I had no idea that I was going to find a massive family of fellow Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS sufferers along the way.
I felt like no one could understand me on Prince Edward Island, so I turned to the Internet instead. People I know would listen and learn to be gentle with me (and others suffering from illness). I figured, if nothing else, I can put a face to these illnesses.As the blog grew, I collected more and more diagnoses, and expanded to being a health activist through the blog and through twitter. Both keep growing every day, as I find more and more people who live like I do and need the support.
WEGO Health: How have you empowered yourself through your Health Activism?
Annie: Before I started being a health activist, I was incredibly hard on myself. As I couldn’t relate to anyone, I blamed myself for everything that was happening to me. Blogging about health made me realize that just because I am afflicted with something terrible does not mean I am any less of a person. It gave me a goal, and became my pride and joy. I would receive emails saying that a blog entry of mine changed someone’s life entirely, or saved them. Those messages just made me strive to empower myself and others even more. People with illnesses may not be able to do everything that everyone else can, but we have a set of skills that are still very important and need to be embraced and loved.
WEGO Health: What does “being empowered” mean to you?
Annie: Being empowered, to me, means embracing what you have to work with and running with it. I knew I felt empowered when I finally felt no shame toward my illnesses. I could scream it from a rooftop and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. My name is Annie Martin and I have Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, Gastroparesis, PCOS, Asthma, and High Functioning Asperger’s. Do they cause me problems? A million! But do I let them rule my life? Definitely not! I know the abuse that people go through in the medical field when they have something that isn’t easily diagnosed. I want to do every single thing I can to make sure that stops happening. No one should have to live their life like that, and have their power stolen from them.
WEGO Health: How can others help empower those around them?
Annie: Be HONEST. Honesty is how we connect with other people. Everything that I used to keep bottled up, which I’ve since shared, is what draws people to me. Everyone says – oh I totally have that too and didn’t know anyone else did! After that, they feel less alone in the world. Also, in order to help empower people, you have to genuinely care for others. You have to want to give them your shoulder during the trying times. You’ll be surprised at the support you get during your hard moments as a result.
WEGO Health: What tips do you have for others who want to share their story and impact others?
Annie: Work with whatever media style fits your personality. People can write books, write blogs, Twitter information, update statuses on Facebook, and talk to radio or television. It is crucial right now to get your voice out there. So many illnesses have mediocre treatments and no cures. We need to put faces to these illnesses in the hopes of achieving greater research. It’s integral to our survival. I really call to the readers of this blog to take a stand and get their voices heard.
A special thanks to Annie for taking the time to share with us – we can’t wait to see where your empowerment continues to take you and your community!