Here, I thought I'd take part of a blog we have referred to before from Deron Drumm to illustrate some key points. I'm then going to link to some related blogs and a key book on healing the mind through Story.
'Sharing healing stories is important for many reasons, including helping those who are suffering. I know without a doubt that my journey out of the depths of despair would not have been possible without the people that shared with me their personal narratives.
It was through these inspiring stories of resilience, strength and courage that I came to cling to the age old belief that if one person can, so can another. The wonderful people who shared their truths with me gave me hope, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that I could get through the darkness.
Through the stories I learned ways to find meaning in suffering and ways to move through it. Many of the methods people used to move forward in their lives did not work for me. But that is not the point of telling our stories.
The point is to show that healing, transcendence, transformation or whatever one seeks, is possible. Healing is a creative act - there are many paths. It is the possibility of bettering one’s human experience that is the important message.
I think it is imperative that we speak our truth about the current paradigm. Studies, books, blogs that unmask the truth about how our society treats emotional distress are important. Protests are important. It is also imperative, in order to bring about a paradigm shift, to tell our stories.
People need to know that struggling today does not mean struggling forever. Sometimes we need to speak from the heart about the things that help us without the rhetoric and attacks on the things that do not. A message filled with love, compassion and understanding is one that is readily received.
I believe our collective anecdotal history is essential for a paradigm shift from medicalizing human emotions to a paradigm that contextualizes the experiences.
I believe above all that people can heal from, recover from, experiences that are called by our society “mental illness.” I do not believe this fact because I read it in a book. I believe it because my life is filled with people who have spent significant time in psych hospitals, prisons, and/or have experienced homelessness, and have found ways to reshape their lives.
The beautiful people that I am so grateful to know have found meaning in despair and have found the strength and courage to seek out their current life path. There is no question that they are stronger and more compassionate people because of their experiences. There is also no question that they are the lucky ones who found something to believe in or someone who believed in them.
Our stories can shift the belief that people cannot heal and recover from emotional distress. If society truly believed people heal and recover then there would be considerably more outrage over the current outcomes in the mental health system.
If people believed that struggling with your human experience today does not necessitate struggling tomorrow, there would be more money and willingness to explore the paths through which humans navigate strife and struggle.
Life can be incredibly hard. Life can be incredibly beautiful. Without the former we would not truly appreciate the latter. The hard times are transient for those with the right support and hope. Our collective stories make a compelling argument for better for all those who are struggling now. Not just better, in fact, but much, much better.’
>> 'Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ by Barb Wingard
>> The Power of Story, blog relating to a book on the power of Story by Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona
>> 'The Power of Storytelling' by Lisbeth Riis Cooper