Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.
Do you recognize that mantra? If you do, you’re probably a Survivor fan like me. **SPOILER ALERT** If you are a Survivor fan and haven’t watched the finale, please don’t read this until you’ve seen it. I don’t want to ruin it for you. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a competition-show junkie, and Survivor is one of my favorites.
Last week was the season finale, and the winner is a former Marine who saw combat and struggles with PTSD. Throughout the season we saw bits and pieces of his personal story and were allowed small glimpses into what it can be like to live with PTSD. During the finale Jeff Probst, the host, asked Ben if he had been contacted by others who live with PTSD since the show started airing. Not surprisingly he has been. Through sharing his story, Ben has given hope to other veterans and brought awareness to a debilitating illness not many understand. This has the potential to make a difference in the lives of so many who live with PTSD. It started with Survivor sharing the website for veterans who have PTSD to get help: www.ptsd.va.gov. Although this site is set up for veterans, there are some good resources on there for anyone who is dealing with trauma.
Seeing Ben’s story reminded me of the importance of sharing our stories, whether they’re hard stories like those of trauma, illness, or failures; or they’re stories of courage, perseverance and victory; or anything in between. You never know whom you might help by opening a window into your life. Of course, it has to be when we’re ready to share and feel safe doing so. Sometimes we’re ready to share things right away, but for some things, especially those we hold most closely, it may take a little more time.
Even when we feel we’re ready it can be hard to be vulnerable and let others see what’s really going on with us, and we don’t want to share indiscriminately (there are a lot of toxic people out there) but we have the opportunity to help others (and ourselves too) by sharing our stories.
What are some of the benefits?
- You learn that you are not alone. I know that several of us who blog share a LOT more on our blogs than we do with the people we interact with every day because we find a lot of kindred spirits here in the blogosphere. We find others who are going through some of the same things we are, and that helps us realize we’re not the only ones going through whatever we may be going through.
- You give others the knowledge that they are not alone. I remember when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia – all of the weird symptoms I had were terrifying. In the years since, I’ve learned that pretty much everything I was experiencing was normal for fibromyalgia, but at the time I was scared to death. Learning that others experienced the same thing made me feel much more comfortable with what was going on in my body.
- You can encourage others. Robin Roberts from Good Morning America always says, “Make your mess your message,” and we have such a great opportunity to make our message one of hope and perseverance. We can use our stories to encourage and uplift others who might be faltering.
- You can give a voice to those who feel they have no voice. By sharing our stories, we can raise awareness, especially for those poorly-understood conditions that many of us live with, and give a voice to those who feel they can’t speak up.
Each of us has a story, and each one is important. I’m sure most of us have heard this account of the impact one small action can have:
One day an older man came upon a younger man on the beach. The younger man picked up a starfish and tossed it back into the ocean. The older man looked around and saw that the beach was littered with hundreds of starfish. “Why are you bothering with that? There are too many to make a difference,” he said to the young man. The young man picked up another starfish and tossed it back into the ocean. “It made a difference for that one.” ~Unkown
By sharing our stories, even though we may not feel we make a big difference, if we could have a positive impact on even one person, wouldn’t it be worth it?