Here is a wonderful guest post and interview with Debbie Rosas, a Health Activist who has received many WEGO Health Activist Award nominations for her work in creating the Nia Technique. We thought this would be an opportunity to learn more about what the Nia Technique is and get to know a bit more about why Debbie is such an inspiration to her community. Thanks to Jenny Block for writing this post – it was fascinating to hear about Debbie’s journey toward advocacy and this new way to seek healing and self-empowerment. –Amanda
In this post, Health Activist Jane Waterman chronicles her experiences with the depths of depression and living with invisible illness while pursuing ambitious career dreams. Her struggles are difficult to read but relatable to those who have lived with unresolved symptoms and painful side-effects. Though her journey was not easy, it is a testament to the process of healing and the work that goes into maintaining hope and finding solace. Thanks Jane, for bravely sharing your story with us. –Amanda
This post explores a taboo subject of death. Through Ms Rants’ calm, thought-out perspective – thinking about death becomes less scary, less forbidden and feels “okay.” As a part of the human experience, death is a constant. In her post we see why discussions of death have a place in our world – not only in our families but in our health communities. We raise awareness, break down barriers, and expose what’s been hidden when it comes to our lives – why not think of death in the same way? Thanks for musing with us, Ms. Rants! –Amanda
This post is a difficult one to read. It chronicles an immensely difficult experience to go through and eventually write about. Thank you to Amy K for being so brave as to go there. Even though we know that sharing is the first step toward awareness and feeling less alone – that doesn’t make it any less challenging to do so. But when we can start by saying, “This is real and something that many experience in silence” – we make a difference. Each post like the following is a big step toward breaking that silence. Hearing first-hand accounts is invaluable. If we can begin to do to provide a safe space for people to speak openly about this and similar struggles, perhaps others can begin to seek healing. Thank you again for your courage, honesty, and openness, Amy – this is a beautiful, though heartbreaking, post. –Amanda
This is a wonderful post that speaks to an experience many of us go through — facing the decision to double-down and push through … or give up on a dream. When faced with a life-altering situation such as the diagnosis (and symptoms) of a chronic health condition – everything is effected. The path you thought you were on becomes a new journey with more uncertainty than ever before. Then there is mourning – the loss of your dreams, of the self you’ve come to know, of the life you’ve led. Sometimes this calls for some serious soul-searching. But then – new things can arise. You can find new strength within and new plans can manifest and there is space for new dreams. This guest post is by Lauren Erbach – a lovely Health Activist in the IBD community – who shares her story about her dream to complete a triathlon and her eventual decision to do what was best for herself and her body. She also shares tips for others of us wondering if a decision we’re making is the right one. Thanks for sharing with us, Lauren – and encouraging hope and self-reliance through the retelling of your own quest to do what was right for you. –Amanda
Today we have Guest Post on Stoptober and the challenge of quitting smoking — and how to approach it from the perspective of a loved one who wants to encourage someone in their life to quit. These are difficult conversations to have – but below are really great tips for starting the discussion and how you can help someone stop potentially destructive behavior. This isn’t a subject we’ve covered before so this is a great opportunity to learn more. It fits in really well with Tough Stuff Month. Thanks to James at Dr Ed for reaching out and sharing this post and infographic with our audience! –Amanda
Leading online communities and connecting with people virtually is something we know better than most. And, as members of health communities in particular – discussions of life and death are a bit more prominent than they are other places. One such discussion is: What is it like to lose someone you “know,” who is in your community — but is someone you don’t necessarily know (in real life)? It can still a traumatic, inexplicable, and painful experience. How do we talk about this? And, even more challenging – how can we plan for it?
This is still relatively uncharted territory – but never more important than now. Every day, more people experience life virtually – sharing their milestones with others via social networks and online connections. It’s inevitable that, with each new birth shared online, the other end of the life cycle will begin to appear there as well. Are we ready for it?
Anyone can discuss this on a rhetorical, philosophical level – but we, as Health Activists, can actually talk about it as it directly affects us. This is something we all have or will experience as leaders of online communities – and yet – talking about it is hard. The “second life” we lead — will it be relatively immortal or will it die its own death? It’s a strange, existential conversation. It’s something that concerns me deeply but, even when I’ve tried discussing it with others, it wasn’t received as I wanted it to be. It can come across trite or even silly – when it’s anything but.
This won’t be the last time we discuss the issues of death and dying – because October has just begun – but this is our first foray into the topic. We’ll be hosting a Roundtable specifically dedicated to the topic of losing someone in your online community – and what to do with your own online presence if something happens to you – because these are the sorts of discussions that Health Activists need to have with themselves and with each other.
To help us start this conversation, here is a post that aims to capture the difficult experience of losing someone in your online community as written by Chris Dean. This post was originally published on Chris’s blog Life Your Way on August 25, 2012 and sent to me with a note from Chris: “[This post] was the first death our community had experienced and it hit us all hard. I would be honored if you would re-post it. After all, it’s about honoring the woman we knew as Lexie. I’ve attached a picture her best friend sent us with permission to use.” Thanks, Chris. Here it is. –Amanda
These Things Happenby Chris Dean
At 2:00 AM this morning I awakened to the text alert on my phone simply BLOWING UP! Earlier in the evening, I’d fallen asleep on the couch while watching TV with the offspring. I rolled out of my nest trying to remember where I’d left the phone so I could shut the stupid thing off. Then I saw the message.
Today, we start off our Tough Stuff Month Guest Posts with a really powerful post. Written by Mental Illness Health Activist and writer, Stephanie Schroeder - this post offers a glimpse into her advocacy and includes an excerpt from her memoir. The book, Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide delves into incredibly intense, personal topics – many of which exist curtained by silence. Through her book and her advocacy, Stephanie brings these issues to light, demystifying them through her honesty. As she shares on her site, Stephanie is no stranger to the difficulties that many patients face as they experience symptoms, diagnosis, and the never-easy journey toward self-care and empowerment.
Today we have an inspiration post written by Health Activist for the Autoimmune community and blogger at The Mighty Turtle, Karen Vasquez. Thanks for sharing what inspires you, Karen – I bet lots of Health Activists can relate to your story. Be sure to follow Karen on Facebook and on Twitter @turtlemighty!
Today’s post is by Health Activist Chris Dean – who has shared a bit about inspiration despite chronic illness. Thanks for sharing with us, Chris! Be sure to follow Chris if you don’t yet on her blog Life Your Way and on her Facebook.
Living Through Laughter
by Chris Dean
Last November 4th, I sat down at my computer and began writing;