Kate Milliken: How Sharing Your Story Can Ease Pain

October 11 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Friends Till the End

Let’s face it, ladies: It can be difficult to create and sustain female friendships when you’re an adult. It’s almost like you have to send a Doodle survey every time you want to go to happy hour with your gal pals.

But some female friendships stand the test of time, no matter how busy our schedules or how many miles apart we are. True girlfriends are by your side when you suffer an illness or get laid off from your job. Today, show a little love to those women who have been with you through thick and thin.


The University of California Los Angeles conducted a study about friendships, and determined bonds between women are super special. When women are stressed and connect with other women about their problems, that simple bonding act produces more of the hormone oxytocin in the body, providing a calming effect—a phenomenon, by the way, that does not occur in men. We’re pretty cool that way. During the course of a lifetime, the positive effects of female friendship really add up: Women who have been friends for at least nine years cut their risk of death during that time by more than 60 percent.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Kate Milliken, Founder of My Counterpane

Remember when I talked about enduring those hard moments with a friend by your side? While it’s tough to find good-hearted friends who will always be there for you, thankfully, we have an outlet to truly express ourselves. It’s called My Counterpane, and it was started by a woman who found comfort in sharing her challenges with others.

My Counterpane, created by former TV and video producer Kate Milliken, is a storytelling tool that enables those suffering from multiple sclerosis and mental illness, as well as veterans and active military, to share their stories of personal adversity and find emotional support. It all started in 2006, when Kate was diagnosed with MS and went hunting for data about people who suffer with chronic illness. She discovered the majority of those people go online to find emotional support, but often find none of it.

With this thought in mind, she remembered a children’s book she connected with as a kid, and built her website on a similar idea. The book is called The Counterpane Fairy, and involves a sick boy who’s visited by a fairy. She tells him if he concentrates enough on one of the patches on his counterpane, or patchwork quilt, he will be able to go on a neat adventure. This defines Kate’s mission fully, as My Counterpane is an online resource that enables users to feel connected, valued and heard.

Unlike the traditional web-based forums that seem never-ending and can often leave users feeling unfulfilled, My Counterpane allows users to select a feeling, ranging from overwhelmed to stable to hopeful, and connect with real-life posts from people experiencing the same emotion. For those who are suffering, that can be a lifesaver in a moment of need.

By connecting with others’ similar stories, we are able to share a sense of togetherness, which, for those who are suffering, can reduce feelings of isolation and desperation. Thanks, Kate, for creating a unique patchwork quilt of a community that is able to counter pain with the knowledge of who we are and how we feel.


Even the roughest of days can be sunny when we are determined to make them so. As lifestyle philosopher Alexandra Stoddard said:

“I wake up every morning with the great desire to live joyfully.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us!

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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