Spoonie Secrets Project For Empathy, Awareness and Connection
By Mary | @healthyeatingexperts | October 1, 2018
I’ve had mysterious symptoms for over a decade and in 2011, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I’ve been through hell and back but I’m glad that I’m still around. I’m grateful that I’ve come this far. And now I want to pay it forward. Since I’ve come out on the other side, I’ve been itching to do something special for the chronic illness community.
The Light Bulb Moment
I was scrolling through my Youtube feed when one SoulPancake video caught my attention. “People share Secrets About Their Mental Health Journey”. They highlighted and featured some post secrets about mental health. I learned that PostSecret is “a community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard."
Then I had a light bulb moment.
What if the spoonie community had a similar platform (minus the postcard, art and mailing)? A place where we can vent and reveal raw, unfiltered truths, thoughts and feelings without the risk of exposure or fear of hurting the people around us. It will not only create empathy, understanding, awareness and connection, but I believe it will help in our healing process.
The Birth of The Spoonie Secrets Project
I didn’t waste any time. I created a Google form asking for one thing only - their deepest, darkest secret. I shared this idea with the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network Facebook group. In a heartbeat, co-members jumped in to help get the ball rolling. They got the word out and supported this project in every way they could.
Then it was time to share it with other forums. Everything seemed to be going well until I received a couple of messages with valid concerns I didn’t think of before.
How could I make sure that this was totally anonymous? With almost anything on the internet, some people find ways to know your identity. Others mentioned how they’ve dealt with judgments and shaming for speaking up and they didn’t want to have any of that ‘crap’ anymore.
So I stepped back and thought hard. For a moment I didn’t know how to respond. Honestly, I got a bit discouraged and was tempted to quit and abandon the project.
They have expressed their need for a platform where they could be brutally and utterly honest. But there’s one problem left - how could I assure anonymity? I mean, what do I have to protect them? I totally understood their point.
I looked at the Google form and the sheet with the initial confessions. I’m a one-woman show and I’m the only one who has access to everything. And I have no way to know who the senders are. So that’s exactly what I said to the concerned spoonies. I also promised to send the link to the first issue so they could see for themselves. They agreed.
The Anonymous Confessions
For the whole week, precious confessions kept pouring in. They were like snowflakes - special, unique, pure and fragile. There were enlightening and heart-breaking stories of fear of abandonment, deepest desires, best-kept emotions and thoughts, abuse, embarrassing habits, suicide, relationships and more. Some were heavy. Some light.
Since I launched the project on August 19th, I’ve been receiving praises and comments like:
“What a cool idea!”
“It’s a neat concept.”
“Nice take on PostSecret.”
“Thank you for doing this.”
“Very brave, honest, and enlightening.”
“This helps in our healing.”
They're all nice to hear. And I appreciate them. But I want to give the honor and credit back to the anonymous fighters. I honor them for their bravery to break the wall of science, to open up and let it out in public. Their vulnerability gave me the strength to show up and flaunt my own battle scars.
My Message to The Anonymous Senders
Thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone. I wish I could give your story a happy ending. I wish I could give you a long hug and have an ugly cry together. I wish I could make your pain go away. But this I can do - keep and embrace you in my prayers.
Mary (@healthyeatingexperts) helps women with chronic illness to shine and thrive. To participate in the Spoonie Secrets Project, click here for more details.