Today is National Write Your Story Day. Telling my story has been an integral part of my recovery. Not my physical recovery—for that I thank the many therapists who have helped me. But I have come to define “recovery” not just as getting my capabilities back, though I will keep working hard to get back as many as I can, but also to rebuilding a life of joy and meaning. That requires an emotional recovery too—a rebuilding of my identity. Telling my story, and writing Identity Theft, is proving central to that effort for me.
Hearing other peoples’ stories has been central to the process as well. Not only will they be instrumental to the book, they have also enriched my journey and fueled my recovery. I have deepened my appreciation for just how different every experience is—from the type and severity of stroke, to our personal and family backgrounds, to our family situations and the resources we do or don’t have access to. Every person is different. Every stroke is different. Every recovery is different.
But we also share so much. The frustrations that come with losing some of the abilities that we used to have. The disappointment that comes from being unable to return to a prior profession, or doing so with new constraints. The sense of grief we feel as we wrestle with the loss of that “former self”. And on a brighter note, the excitement of finding new directions, new and rewarding relationships, and maybe even a new and deeper purpose for our lives.
What is unquestionable for me is that hearing the stories of others—through conversations, interviews for my book, other websites/social media, support groups, or because you shared yours with me here—has been a big part of my recovery. And establishing relationships with some of you truly is one of the “silver linings” of an experience I would wish on no one.
I hope that any stroke survivor reading this (or anyone, for that matter) who has not already found a way to share your story will do so—for your sake as well as the others you will undoubtedly touch. And if you want to share your story about rebuilding your identity after stroke, I would be honored to share it on this website.