5 tips for sharing your personal multiple sclerosis story

(BPT) - The tradition of storytelling — the social and cultural activity of sharing stories — extends as far back into human history as the ancient Greeks, and is valued across all cultures and communities. While the ancient Greeks wrote to express and alleviate the concerns of wars, plagues and famine, today, this cherished tradition can be used by many people, including those with chronic illnesses, to communicate their own struggles and moments of hope. My Story is an online platform offered through EMD Serono's MS LifeLines that allows people impacted by multiple sclerosis (MS) to share strength through stories that speak to their experiences with the condition.

According to MS LifeLines Ambassador Carrie, "When I was first diagnosed with MS, there were so many emotions: denial, anger and depression. Once I reached acceptance with MS, I found that sharing my story with others who are going through similar experiences gives me comfort, as well as helps them."

Storytelling can play a critical role in supporting the thousands of Americans affected by multiple sclerosis. MS can be a challenging disease to face and understand, and can leave the nearly 400,000 Americans diagnosed, as well as their friends and family, reeling with questions and frustrations about the impact that MS will have on their futures.

With this in mind, EMD Serono created My Story, an online platform for people with MS, as well as patients’ friends and family, to read and share stories and experiences.

In her experience counseling people with chronic conditions like MS, Dr. Vered Hankin, a clinical health psychologist and internationally acclaimed storyteller, finds that “storytelling can be empowering for both the storyteller and the person hearing the story.” She shares her five tips for anyone starting to share their own story.

Dr. Hankin’s 5 tips for storytelling

* Write freely about your journey with MS. Don’t worry about it coming out perfectly — you can change it later.

* Decide what stands out and comes to the forefront from your journey with MS.

* Add the senses by incorporating the sights, feelings, smells, tastes and sounds associated with the moment you identified.

* Refine the story by putting the moment into context by defining the events that led up to it, the people involved and what makes it interesting.

* Reflect on your story once it is developed and what it means to you, as well as how it can touch others facing similar situations. Remember to keep your story simple, honest and open.

Incorporating the above tips into a personal story about your MS journey may be helpful for you as well as the person reading your story. You can share yours and read others' stories through My Story and learn more about MS at MS LifeLines.

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