On June 27, Jennifer Brea, #MEAction co-founder, filmmaker, TED Fellow, readied herself to speak in Banff, Canada at TEDSummit 2016. The process of preparing can be described as grueling for anyone, much less for someone with ME: Brea had spent weeks writing and fact-checking the talk with a committee from TED, and now had to keep her focus and concentration for sixteen minutes straight.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I realized on stage that it’s OK to let what is broken be broken. That it’s more important to be true.”[/pullquote] “I began the day with a saline IV, thanks to a few angels, and pulled out every single trick I have just to get on that stage,” Brea posted on Canary in a Coal Mine‘s Facebook page. “I ran into a brick wall about five times during the talk when there was just nothing but blank – no words, no thoughts. But everyone stood and silently cheered and sent up love and support when I stumbled. And I made it! To the end! It was hard because the old me, the me that I was and still am, wants to nail it, wants everything to be flawless. And I realized on stage that it’s OK to let what is broken be broken. That it’s more important to be true.”
Brea used her own, personal experience with ME to shine a light on how illness is viewed, treated, and understood in our society.
Audience reactions show that Brea’s message and the message of the ME community was heard loud and clear.
— Julia Bacha (@juliabacha) June 27, 2016
— CAA Foundation (@caafoundation) June 27, 2016
Individuals tweeted their reactions and their favorite lines:
— Emma Marris (@Emma_Marris) June 27, 2016
Jen’s talk emerged as one of the most memorable of the Summit:
— Sioban M. (@KingSio_) June 27, 2016
— Jeff Motter (@motterjb) June 28, 2016
Members of the audience came up to Brea to congratulate her and express the sense of connection they felt to her narrative for the rest of the Summit. Brea tells the story of someone whose reality has been questioned, and whose life has gone suddenly, perhaps irretrievably, off-script. It is also the story of how she has turned this sea-change into a force for good.
And that is something a lot of people can relate to.
Read other articles about Jen’s TED talk he TED blog, the Park Record, and on Medium.
Jen Brea’s TED Talk will be released to the public this fall. Stay tuned for more information!