“Why?” is a question we often ask, because it is human nature to seek answers. However, despite this natural human curiosity, awareness-raising is still not an easy task.

It seems that as our knowledge increases, so we each have less inclination to explore deeper dilemmas and to question our own established views. Consequently, our views become simplified, and moulded to the mood of the time.

Awareness-raising campaigns therefore need to challenge each of us to revisit our perceptions of a particular situation. It’s never an easy task, but popular opinion is not static, so it can be done. And the more people who participate, the greater the momentum for change.

The 12th of May is “Awareness Day” for a several much maligned and deeply misunderstood conditions. Having Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis does not induce much public sympathy, for the simple reason – that the public do not understand the severity of the conditions.

So what can we do to change that? We can of course spread awareness at any time of year, but having a particular day makes it easier to strongly make a point. It’s the difference between a dripping tap and a river bursting its banks. Way more notice is taken of the latter.

So every year advocates, charities, patients, carers, and friends start creating a wave of enthusiasm to do something towards changing public perception.

It’s somewhat ironic that prior to any good Awareness Day, there must be a strong campaign to make people AWARE of the Awareness Day! So in the weeks coming up to May 12th there are already campaigners promoting their activities and encouraging others to join in.

And this is where everyone else makes such a difference, because more voices make more noise, and the bigger the noise we generate on the day the more notice we get for our case. We all need to believe that by doing what we do, all at once and with enthusiasm, that we will eventually get our cause heard and things changed!

Yet, there is another spin-off, because the collaboration undertaken during these events brings people together – not just united by a common cause – but also united by making lasting friendships and relationships that will help to sustain each one of us throughout the rest of the year.

In this way awareness raising becomes much more than shouting our case in isolation – it gathers momentum precisely because it can also be fun in itself! Whether it be having a Blue Tea Party, dressing as a Princess, lighting up a landmark, or writing a short blog, there are so many ways to make a difference.

So check out the May12th.org Awareness page here, and see if there something that makes you think “I could do that!” Then connect with others doing the same, and know that even though each action is small, collectively our voices are getting louder!

Sally K Burch

We thank Sally for being our 1st Guest blogger.  You can read her blogs here

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