About Conversations

Brianna and are in the middle of launching a conversation using Facebook Live and some other cool social media tools.  We’re trying stuff out.  We don’t really know what is going to happen- you all know that right? This whole thing is unscripted. We read a book, we have experiences, and sometimes we like to talk to people.  So, we’re bringing all of that together, live.  We don’t really know how it’s going to go.  Like you all get to find out with us, if you join us in these spaces we are creating in the digital world.  You actually get to help shape it by showing up.  Which we think is kinda cool- super scary for us with our anxiety and faces and voices allover it.

However, that is just one of the conversations that I’m hoping to create space for in my work.

So in my last post, I mentioned that I want to redefine wellness, broaden how it’s seen, and what it represents to people.  Part of that, is opening the wellness chat to people who have either been, accidentally or on-purpose, left out of the current definition of wellness.  I want to welcome folks who don’t feel like they’re allowed to ask to feel better than they do.  People who have been cast as weak, delicate, undeserving, or too difficult to include for some reason.

More wellness for everyone.

All genders.  All ages.  All sizes. All abilities.  All backgrounds.

I can’t define this conversation.  I’m for sure missing folks.  I just know that as someone who identifies as having chronic illness, I've been made to feel like I'm asking for too much.  That if I request more than symptom relief, I am ungrateful.  Also, if I don’t give up on “real life” and basically go all nun style- eating only “healthy food”, sleeping lots, praying or meditating more, closing off from new experiences and protecting myself from people, and being “gentle” with myself constantly, well obviously I'm not deserving of better health- I haven’t tried hard enough.  Alternatively, if I get real about any pain or struggle and voice it, I'm a whiner.  I have often felt that my choice is to present myself as incredibly strong and hardcore- it doesn’t hurt that much- I am totally capable- no worries.  Or curl up into a ball and forget about all the things I want to do.

I can’t be the only one who has felt this way about illness vs wellness.  In fact, I know I’ve heard it whispered in the halls of Facebook.  You have to.  That’s why you’re here.

I also know that the people I have met with ongoing chronic illness, of all different types, are strong and conscientious people.  They do take care of themselves.  I’m not advocating for not taking care of one’s self.  I’m just voicing concern that the expectation placed on folks with illness to give up typical life- to hibernate full-time-  is unfair.  Or to avoid discussing experiences that make others uncomfortable, is also unfair.

People with chronic illness are allowed into this wellness conversation.  As are many other voices who have been quieted.

How do we take change the dialogue to include a chorus of voices?

Well- I don’t know.  I know what I’ve done to enhance my wellness while accepting my chronic illness and while living life on my terms.  What works for me, might not work for you.  That’s okay.  Let’s chat about it.  That’s what I’m trying to do.  Create conversation.  People who have been afraid to ask to ask about wellness.  People who think that they will be laughed at for bringing this up.  Or scorned.  Or judged.  Because they have chronic pain.  Because they are fat.  Because they misuse substances sometimes.  Because some days they can’t get out of bed. Because they are unable to use their legs. Because they can’t see. Because they don’t have control of bodily functions. Because they don’t have money.

There’s a million ways people have been excluded in some way from the wellness conversation.  As service providers, we get caught up on certain things, especially when our time is limited.  We focus in on the most pressing need.  It’s understandable.  Folks don’t feel like they can bring up wanting a gym membership because they can’t pay for hydro. Or because obviously having panic attacks and figuring that out is going to come before asking about a writing workshop.

But the thing is, at least for me- figuring out how to write about stuff has helped me have less panic attacks.  Moving my body regularly causes me less chronic pain.  Meditating has decreased my inflammation markers… hmm?  There are a lot of people noticing things like this with other folks too.  They're actually studying things like this properly. I don’t propose that I’m the first.  And I know that there are a lot of service providers trying to figure out how to include all the aspects people bring with them into their helping.

I just think that there needs to be more conversations happening in tandem.  It might get a bit loud and crowded as voices are added and space is created to give folks a platform to share.  And together we might come to understand this whole wellness thing in a different way.

So I’m putting that out there:  I’m open to hard conversations with all people about wellness.  I also don’t mind being that third wheel in the middle of an argument between two people who have very strong and vastly different ideas about how wellness should look.  I feel like I would learn a lot in that space.  Some days I might even be one of those people with rigidly strong and radical ideas. I might even have some things wrong.

I hope that if this sparks something, you will join the conversation, with me or another provider.  Maybe come and check out what Brianna and are starting up in regards to our Conversations Around Anxiety.  Whatever you choose, know that you are allowed in this conversation, however you show up.


Stacey Ivits