Health Awareness Fatigue? 3 Ways to Reconnect

Cynthia Bailey, MD|August 24, 2015

Health Awareness Fatigue The month of August holds the distinction of several awareness campaigns, Psoriasis Awareness being one. Next month staggers under the weight of 10. And that doesn't include the ones without "awareness" in the title. What's with all the awareness campaigns? It might feel like every week there's a different awareness popping up, one more disease or sickness to recognize. It's so easy to brush it off because we've become desensitized to the rapidly piling lists of problems we have in this world, from Sepsis Awareness (September) to Breast Cancer Awareness (October) to Celiac Awareness (May). Alright already, you say to yourself with not a little guilt. I get the idea. We're all going to die a horrible death unless I pass on that informational Facebook post to help prevent the disease du jur. Do we have to be reminded constantly about all the disease and problems out there? You don't have to feel guilty. We are all to some extent emotionally fatigued by all the campaigns that really don't touch our everyday lives. The truth is, there is very little chance that each and every campaign out there is going to touch us in some way. So, before you dismiss the next (10) awareness campaign, here are 3 things to think about that may help you recover from the fatigue: 1. The Connection of Pain It might seem like the world is a big, vast place. The truth is, thanks to the internet, it's really not as big as you might think. We all have things in common, things that bring us closer together and help us relate, things you might not even realize are there. Going through tough times in life is, without a doubt, one of the great levelers of the human race. We all suffer and struggle with things, and oftentimes those struggles look similar, no matter what continent, race, color or creed. When Dr. Bailey began blogging about her cancer journey, she was overwhelmed by the support from people going through and having already gone through a similar situation. By sharing her story, she was able to comfort others while also gain some healing from the outpouring of love and support from others. Before you mentally dismiss that next awareness post, take a brief moment to remember, and be grateful for, what you've made it through. 2. The Connection of Joy While it may seem like every awareness campaign is about the negative, quite often it also promotes the human spirit in all its flawed glory shining like a beacon despite the challenges. If pain is one of the great levelers, then the triumph of spirit is a universal language all its own. No words need to be said when that face glows with pride at having made it through the struggle or overcome their weakness only to discover it was a strength all along. Sometimes it's the little victories that matter most. In response to a blog Dr. Bailey wrote on being thankful for her cancer journey, Mary wrote, "I was diagnosed in February of '13, at 58.  A routine mammogram revealed I had stage 2 IDC (estrogen receptor) with lymph node involvement.  After 16 rounds of chemo, a mastectomy, and 6 weeks of daily radiation my treatment finished exactly a year ago.  It's helpful to read of your positive attitude...some of us don't naturally go to the "silver lining' thought process." Life is full of diseases and pain, but it's because of those times that we can also feel the joy. Don't be so quick to pass the campaigns by because they have scary stories - sometimes they are just as full of the good stuff too. 3. Getting a Leg Up The plain, unvarnished truth is some diseases are sexier than others. That isn't to say cancer is sexy. But it is very significant because it's a brush - and sometimes more than just a brush - with death. Rosacea somehow doesn't seem nearly as dramatic - like being the act that follows Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent. That's where awareness campaigns come in. If the campaign is clever enough (ALS challenge, anyone?), it will attract attention, awareness and possibly donors. It will also hopefully be memorable, a story about how a disease you may know little about impacts a person's life, and that will stick in your head the next time you meet someone with the condition. It helps us to understand each other's journey and builds our empathy for the human condition we all share no matter how strong or put together someone appears.  Or, the campaign may give you a gift of information you can pass on to someone who is in that situation. You may have awareness campaign fatigue, but don't give up! They serve a good purpose: they help us realize our big vast world is really a smaller place full of beautiful people just like us.

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