Humans of Scotland – Making connections

Written by: Angela Millar, Development Officer for Humans of Scotland, the ALLIANCE

Published: 17/05/2019

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The power of stories and being in the right place at the right time.

Our Humans of Scotland series sees people share their compelling stories of living with long term conditions, disabilities and as unpaid carers. Over the months we’ve featured many stories of resilience, of times of triumph and life’s challenges.

Storytelling is important on a number of levels – raising awareness, sharing experiences and the act of giving a person a platform to express themselves is empowering and, at times, therapeutic. But, one of the most inspiring things about sharing stories is the element of human connection they bring. By telling and retelling our life stories, we’re reaching out to others, touching their lives.

Humans of Scotland does this. It connects strangers. People are touched by the experiences of others. We see this in the comments people leave on social media. The impact of sharing vulnerable moments is powerful.

But in one instance the connection has gone beyond the realms of social media. Michael Byrne, one of our early contributors, shared his story of living with Complex PTSD. His story is inspiring, heartfelt and honest. Upon reading it, you can’t help but run a whole gamut of emotions.

Michael has been a generous and kind member of the Humans of Scotland family. He continues to contribute to our work and his input is invaluable. As such he was recently invited, through Humans of Scotland, to appear on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kaye Adams show to discuss his mental health journey.

The story Michael tells stems from a lifetime of traumatic events. Among these is his survival of the Clutha disaster in Glasgow in which a helicopter crashed into the roof of the pub killing ten people. At the time Michael assisted a number of injured people. He helped one young woman who had a head injury, giving her his coat and safely seeing her into an ambulance.

While Michael recounted his story of the disaster to Kaye Adams on the show that same young woman was listening, listening to Michael tell something of her story too. She subsequently got in touch with the show and has now been put in touch with Michael.

This is the power of sharing our stories. Here is a human connection between two people brought back together by the act of speaking on the airwaves, bravely recounting a unique and life-changing event.

When Michael contacted me to tell me what had happened, I felt emotional. I felt emotional because I have such belief in the sharing of stories resulting in incredible things, and here was a beautiful and concrete example of that.

Storytelling is one of the oldest behaviours of humankind. There’s a reason for that. It creates empathy, understanding and relationships. By sharing we make ourselves vulnerable, and by making ourselves vulnerable we open ourselves up to the wonderful and unexpected.

Read Michael’s Humans of Scotland story.


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