Friday, April 18, 2014

Support for Others, Support Yourself

A couple years ago, when I sat down and decided to start this site, I made a single item my goal--I wanted to help just one person. I thought that if I could just help one person feel a little better, any of the work I put into making this site a reality would be worth it.

Just one!
Perhaps there is some contrary logic to this--after all, websites are intended to reach many people from all over the world. Yet that is why it had to be a site. I did not know anyone with my conditions, my struggles, and I felt really alone in everything I was going through. And because I felt so isolated, I knew that there had to be other people in similar situations who felt just as alone. Somewhere. Separated by our isolated, buffering bubbles. And for reasons I could not identify at the time, I wanted to help that one person. So I set up my site, put out my thoughts on the 'interwebs', and hoped it could help make my one person feel a little better.

As feedback rolled in and more people responded to what I put out, I realized a couple of things. For one, I have reached more than one person. Each person that writes in and tells me what my writing has meant to them... some of these heartfelt messages have brought me to tears. From joy, from empathy, from fulfillment. And I realized that with each impact I made, I was not helping just one person--ever. No matter who else I helped, I was also always helping myself. Helping myself with every effort I put in.

I do not mean this in a selfish way; this site is not a intricate method of patting myself on the back. Or a way to lift myself into the fame of the internet (though I doubt very much fame comes from chronic illness anyhow!). But in trying to motivate so many people to change their lives for the better, or help them try to find and extract the strengths within them, or helping to further their ability to manage the trials they struggle with, I found I was helping myself. How could I try to push others to be better in and feel better about their lives without making those changes myself? To put it in cliche' terms, I cannot sell something I would not buy. And believing in others made me believe in myself.

As I found this strength and joy in support online, it started to spread like a skirting fire into my personal life. It lit up my conversations, my relationships, my work and my life. It flickered into a passion to identify the pain in others and try to ease it. When I see someone struggling, this burning desire to help lighten that load takes over and I try to think what I can offer to lessen that burden.

However, not feeling well can lead to some... less than motivated motivational attitude
I think there is a valid fear that, because energy is restricted by illness, pain, and other struggles, that reaching out and entrenching oneself in another person's problems becomes too draining and hard. The fear is understandable--I have burned myself out before from trying to do too much and breaching the limits of my capacity. But I think that as you find ways to comfortably offer help and support, develop methods that fall within your range of capacity, you discover that you are helping and consequently helping yourself. Sometimes it can be as simple to just listening to someone's problems so they can feel your empathy and emotional support (which I discussed recently in another post). Even going onto online support groups and responding to a post with, "I know how you feel" can make a difference. No matter how big or small that help offered is, I get a little lift from every person I help.

Why? Maybe because it strengthens my ability to deal with what life throws at me. Or maybe it makes me feel like my web of support is widened when I help others. Or the connections I make help me feel secure. Maybe focusing on others lessens the pain I sense in myself. I do not really put much conscious thought into the why; ultimately, it is the result that makes a difference in my life and that is what I appreciate. I really don't care about much else.
Cheer others on with grace and fearless beauty.

I cannot make you go out and try to help the world. I actually would not really recommend that as a first step! But I can ask you to try and lend a hand to others who struggle. In kind words, in helpful actions, or in whatever form of support that suits you best. Maybe that sounds cheesy but it does not lessen the truth in what I am saying. I wish for everyone/anyone to see and experience how it can better your own capacity for strife and help you feel the connections you need to survive the battles life and our bodies throw at us. As long as you do not push yourself too hard or expect too much, supporting others really can improve how you feel.

When you cheer others on, especially those you empathize with, you are cheering on yourself. You cannot wish well for them without wishing well for your own life. So thank you everyone who has allowed me to wish them well, I have enjoyed every minute of it and cannot wait to see what the future brings. I have been able to reach much more than one person, and I cannot express effect it has had on me.

--The BedHead

p.s., I recently started a twitter account in connection with this site, trying to spread inspiration, cheer, and sarcasm as best I can. If you have a twitter account, please follow @Bedriddenhead and help me get the thing off the ground--because I have no idea what I am doing!


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About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.