I am off to my local Writers Festival today and over the next 2 days I am reminded of the importance of sharing our stories. Every year, I sit and listen to incredibly inspiring local, national and international authors telling their stories. They may be fiction, they may be non-fiction, but every one of them is a story worth hearing.
I love learning about what inspired an author to write their book. Usually there are very personal experiences behind a book and a good author will use those experiences (albeit positive or negative) to create a compelling read that invites a reader to laugh, cry, dream, fantasize, reflect and hope about their own life.
The writing of my book Arthritis, pregnancy and the path to parenthood, began as a cathartic process for me, as I blindly navigated the journey of creating a family. I began revisiting my journal entries about being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as I continued to write about my fears, concerns and dreams of having a baby.
Each journal entry propelled me back to the raw emotions I felt (and continued to feel) about my life and the uncertainties I now lived with everyday. When I began searching for information about having a baby while living with chronic arthritis, I was both shocked and angered to find nothing. Nothing in Australia, nothing overseas, nothing to guide me, let alone inspire me on this most important chapter in my RA journey.
I decided very quickly that this gap in information about arthritis and pregnancy had to be filled. And in the words spoken by Emma Watson at her address to the United Nations in 2014 on gender equality,
“If not me, who? If not now, when?”
I could have left the task of writing about this issue to others, but why not me? I had a story to tell, I had experiences to share and if I could help others, then why would I choose not to?
I was desperate to speak to other women who had been through this process before me. I wanted to ask them how they coped, how they felt, how their pain was and if it really was possible to have a baby while living with the relentless, debilitating pain, limitation and fatigue of arthritis.
So, I reached out and I connected with women across five countries that became the women whose stories I share with you in my book. These women gave me hope. They inspired me to keep on going when I felt I couldn’t go any further. They reminded me that my decision to write my story and share theirs, was not only worthwhile but it was essential to support the women who will walk this journey after me.
Sharing my story proved to be a powerful tool to support others. The stories of the women and men I will hear this weekend at the Writers Festival will have the same effect on me. I have no doubt that they will support me, inspire me and give me hope as I continue the path of my life. Sharing your story with others – now – will provide strength and life lessons to those around you. You may not write a book, you may not speak on a stage to an audience, but you can share your unique story with those people who have hearts that are open enough to listen. If not you, who? If not now, when?