Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness

The Confessional

I watch a fair amount of reality TV.  Fortunately for my own sanity I don’t get caught up in “Survivor”, “Big Brother”, “The Glass House”, or any of those that we may consider to be social experiments.  I tend toward the arts, like “Project Runway”, “So You Think You Can Dance”, and I’ve watched, embarrassingly, “Gallery Girls” (I’ll share my thoughts on that another time).

What all the reality shows offer is a time for the contestant to speak to the camera one-on-one in private.  The intent of these “confessions” is for the producers to edit them into the show’s storyline giving more background information for the viewer.  In addition, it allows the contestant to reveal the truth about their experience and how they view their competitors.  Trust me, it’s seldom nice, helpful, or complimentary.  It serves as a bitch session, and probably makes for good television.

Although we’re not competing with others in our day-to-day lives, what if our homes were equipped with a confessional?  Following the diagnosis of a health challenge, or some other life-changing event, there are moments when what’s pent up inside needs to come out, but it needs to be done in a safe and secure manner.  What do you want to get off your chest in the confessional?

Research shows that holding negative thoughts in your body hinders the body’s natural defenses and limits the focus of the immune system.  Years ago there was a book titled, “You can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought”.  The book’s title alone stresses that negative thoughts cost you, maybe not dollars, but certainly peace-of-mind and the ability to focus on health and healing.

You and I know that a confessional is probably not in our future, no matter how appealing the thought might be, so what’s the next best thing?  A support group allows you to be completely honest and within a safe that is confidential and safe.  It provides you with an outlet for anything and everything you’re holding back outside those walls.

Another way to create a confessional, without anyone realizing it would be to express yourself creatively.  How many museums have you gone to and seen a work of art and you get a sense for the artist’s true feelings, not matter how raw?  I hung a show at a local hospital and I held back from hanging two pieces because the theme and the colors were dark.  One piece, “Stop the Madness”, looked as if a massacre had occurred.  It was all black, grey, and red.  It had a Jackson Pollock quality to it, but had an emotional darkness that wouldn’t have shown well in a place devoted to health and healing.  However, the fact of the matter is the piece was real!  The piece was an expression of my thoughts at that time, and that’s what came out in the studio.  I was able to release the negative energy and share my emotions without taking it out on others while being true to myself.

Short of creating your own documentary, having a space where you can be free of negative feelings is imperative.  The virtual world allows us to connect with people all over the world day and night.  It allows us share our thoughts and feelings in social media, blogs, and other creative venues


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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