Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Sound Bite or Epic?

You’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness and the story begins.  There are lots of ways the story can go and lots of roles that the story can play in your life so as the writer of the story you have some decisions. 

Is the story you’re telling about your illness or you in the patient role a sound bite or an epic?  Is a snippet that you want people to know as an adjunct to all the other stories or is it going to take center-stage.  Is it going to be a blip on the screen or will it be the center of every aspect of your life? This is an important distinction because it’s not only about the residue you leave upon your own physical, emotional, and spiritual self, but the impact on your relationships with family and friends.

Every watch Sex and the City?  Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) breaks up with her boyfriend and thus begins the epic tale of how she was wronged, he was an idiot, she was a victim, etc.  At one point her friends confront her on her behavior and she respond with something like, “I thought that’s what friends are for” (to tell the heartbreak story).  They inform her it was okay in the beginning and in Shakespeare’s terms they say, “Get thee to a shrink”. 

Your friends and family will only listen for so long, especially if they don’t see the plot changing in any significant way.  This isn’t them dismissing you, but them saying the story isn’t serving your journey to health and healing.  If you’ve always lived your life as a victim then this is one more story that corroborates that point, so don’t be surprised if your friends stop answering your phone calls and e-mails.  Do you really want to be that person or that patient?

I encourage you to tell the story because it’s healthy to express yourself in all ways, but know that there’s a difference between repetition for emphasis, and repetition because you lack the know how or desire to get on with the number one job at hand, getting well!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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