I had taken the picture at least five times before I took a breath and posted it to my story. In under a minute, a selfie featuring my heating pad and a small complaint about my endometriosis was on my SnapChat story for anyone to see.In under a minute, my medical condition was there for anyone to see.
This isn’t a new thing for me, by any stretch of the imagination. My Twitter by this point is at least 25% endometriosis-related content, and I’ve become more vocal about the medical condition on my other social media accounts as time has crept along. That doesn’t mean that I’m used to it though.
When it comes to sharing any medical condition on social media, there’s a chance that there’s some fear on the poster’s end. This fear has many facets, but I’ve found that most of them have to do with judgment. You’ll find yourself thinking things like, “What if they think I’m lying? Or over-exaggerating? Or oversharing?”
Those fears are all fair and valid, but if you ever find yourself hesitating on talking about your latest medical news, or posting a selfie on a day where your medical condition is making things difficult, think of things in a new light.
You’re not oversharing. You’re raising awareness.
It may sound a bit pretentious to think that when all you’re doing is posting a status about finding a lump on your breast or talking about a cyst that the doctors found last week, but it’s true. By sharing your experience, you are giving others (maybe friends, maybe family, maybe even complete strangers) information and perhaps even relatable experiences that open up their eyes that could be affecting them or people close to them. You are showing them that, yes, this certain medical condition happens, and can happen to anyone. It’s raising awareness closer to home, and so makes things easier to grasp.
Also, consider the fact that you vocalizing your illness opens up a support network to you and others.
When I first found out about my endometriosis, it took me four months before I talked about it. Within the first day of sharing, I had a new friend with the same condition. She found me via Twitter, and even though we aren’t close, I know that I have at least one person who’s a text away from validating my experience and struggles, who will stand up for me if anyone accuses me of lying or oversharing.
While oversharing is a real worry, you should know that for every possible #TMI post you make about your medical condition, you have the chance to inspire someone to look at their own health experience and realize that they can relate to your struggle, that they should look into their health.
It may be weird to open up about something so personal, something that you wished wasn’t a part of your life, but you can change someone else’s if you do share.
When I first was trying to make sense of my condition, I read article after article from medical perspectives. While they were helpful, I didn’t fully embrace the fact that I suffered from endometriosis until I came across an article written by Lara Parker, a writer at BuzzFeed who has shared her struggle with her reproductive medical conditions over and over again.
Her articles about the condition, and even one specifically about how she stopped lying about her chronic pain, not only forced me to confront my condition but pushed me to start speaking up. When I had the chance to talk with her for another article, I couldn’t help but ask her about her experience with raising awareness about endometriosis, and you know what her number one method of raising awareness is?
Simply talking about her health on social media.
It’s not oversharing, no matter how personal, no matter how many people tell you otherwise. Your health experience, your struggle with your medical condition is valid, and sharing is so important, be it to bring closure to yourself or to raise awareness of others. It has a place in your life, both on and offline.