The Power of Storytelling

Have you ever felt guilty taking time out of your day to read? After being a total bookworm throughout childhood I found the guilt set in during early adulthood. Hal Elrod, the author of the Miracle Morning has reading as one of the six non-negotiable tasks that should be accomplished every morning for success.1 So why is reading so important? I was surprised to find out that reading stories is essential to growth. The need to consume other peoples stories, whether true or fictional is biologically programmed into us.

Stories have been told for as long as humans were humans. Our brains are wired to engage in them because they teach us about life. They show us how to anticipate danger, and how to overcome those future obstacles. You can imagine it cant you. The story of the hunter who came across a Tiger while out hunting, listening to the strategies he used to survive and how he overcame those challenges. So now that you have heard his story, you can think, what would I do if a tiger tried to eat me while I am out and about…and your chances of survival have increased.

Storytelling and psoriasis

The most significant place I underestimated storytelling was in healing. I think that part of the problem with psoriasis stories is the absence of a cure, the lack of a definite solution. I understand that psoriasis is written into my genetic code. That psoriasis is part of who I am. There is no curing or hiding from that. My experience of healing stories are the people who claim to be healed by this ‘miracle’ cream, by a detox programme or mystical retreat, and I’m too weary to tolerate this kind of information anymore.

My attitude to storytelling in healthcare changed on October 29th, 2017. It was World Psoriasis Day when I decided that I would not write a fiction book (although I still love the idea of a fictional story with a psoriatic heroine) but instead write about psoriasis. It turns out that writing about psoriasis when it is something you usually try to ignore every day is emotionally challenging. I have spent almost my entire life hiding my psoriasis from the world and myself, and here I was talking about it openly, nearly every day.

How storytelling helped me move forwards

It would be a barefaced lie to tell you I am not struggling with writing openly about psoriasis. The person who helped me with this the most? Alisha Bridges. Her presence and openness on Twitter have encouraged me to uncurl myself from the protective mode. She has had the confidence and resolve to share when she has faced challenges, both in her life and in her work as an advocate and it has made me feel less alone. Her article https://plaquepsoriasis.com/living/challenges-psoriasis-advocate/ about the difficulties of being an advocate helped me accept that the feelings of vulnerability were normal and from her experience, I gained strategies to help me adjust to this new phase of my life.

A recent encounter with mild depression left me shellshocked and in denial. Reading Chris Pettit’s article Psoriasis on the brain https://plaquepsoriasis.com/living/psoriasis-on-the-brain/ helped me feel that it was ok to talk about struggling with the psychological aspects of living with psoriasis. Stories make information more relatable, just reading his story made me feel like I was having coffee with a friend, more able to open up and accept this part of my journey. Compare this to my experience of reading information about depression on the National Health Service (NHS) website, a source of highly informative, excellent quality information. The list of symptoms and descriptions fed my feelings of denial and made me feel… well a little depressed!

Next steps…

Share your stories! they will help in ways you cannot imagine. Invest your time in reading and listening to the stories of others, true or fictional. These stories can help you relate to other people who are in the same boat as you, so you do not feel alone.  They can teach you tried and tested strategies, so you don’t need to fail repeatedly to get to the same place, and they can give you respite from your life, providing an escape to a fantasy world just for a while.

All of these things are valid and important.

Interested in sharing your own psoriasis journey, we want to hear from you. Click here to find out how to submit your psoriasis story.

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