Monday, July 10, 2017

No more shame or silence

Actor Michael J. Fox has lived with Parkinson's disease for more than two decades already. Recently AARP The Magazine featured an article about how he's thriving as he lives with the disease.

Fox himself gave six rules for surviving adversity. One especially struck me:

"Don't remain silent or ashamed about illness. Once Fox went public with his condition, he says, 'it was empowering to have people understand what I was going through—I immediately felt better.'"

Empowering! Yes! Sometimes our tendency is to keep such things to ourselves or tell only those in our most immediate circle. But the more Fox shared with others, the more support and love he got. The stronger he felt, and the more agency and personal power he took back. And the more it encouraged others to share their illnesses or woes and find support as well. So much is to be gained by openness.

When it comes to removing the stigma of some diseases—and particularly of mental illness—this is especially true. Until we bring them out into the light of day, they'll live in the darkness of secrecy and shame. No one wins when that happens.

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