You will have heard of blogging: it’s everywhere! Millions of people are blogging everyday about a wide range of topics. Lots of bloggers focus on writing about their personal lives, including talking about their health conditions. Blogging about your chronic illness can be so rewarding. There are numerous benefits, both for yourself and for others!

The Benefits

Expressing your feelings

Living with a chronic illness can be really tough to say the least. Blogging gives you a platform to express how you truly feel, the good and the bad! Getting your feelings off your chest can feel like a weight has been lifted. It can be really cathartic to have a place to express your feelings anytime you need to, day or night. 

We might not always want to talk about what we’re going through to loved ones. It’s common to worry about being a burden, or to feel that they won’t fully understand. Writing your feelings out gives you the same release, but without worrying about what your loved ones will say or how they will feel if you express a negative feeling. Sometimes seeing what you’re going through in print can be really validating, and give you a clearer perspective.

Being part of a community

Blogging allows you to feel part of something special. Not only are there communities of bloggers, but you can find communities of other chronically ill people online who are talking about their experience too. The sense of being understood and feeling accepted can be really empowering.

Many people with chronic illness become socially isolated, whether it’s because they’re not able to keep up with friends, or because they worry about how they will be perceived by others. Yet we all need social interaction to feel happy. Nobody wants to feel alone. Blogging allows you to make those all important social connections and to know that you are not alone. 

This detailed study on blogging about chronic illness states that: “As a form of online community, blogs function as platforms for patients with chronic pain and illness to share information, practical advice, and emotional support.”

Raising awareness and fighting stigma

Writing about your chronic illness helps others to learn about your illness, especially those who might not otherwise understand. It gives people an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of what the experience of actually living those symptoms daily feels like. By sharing your experience you are actively educating people about what it’s really like, how it really feels, and how you navigate life despite your struggles. 

Chronic illness still carries quite a bit of stigma. Others don’t always understand symptoms that they cannot see. By talking about your experience, you’re actively using your voice to help break down that stigma and spread awareness. The more people who speak up, the faster the message will be heard.

Helping others

As well as helping others by raising awareness, your blog might also help people in other ways. You might help someone who has just been diagnosed to find hope and get advice on how to cope. When you’re first diagnosed it can feel really scary and frightening, and it’s common to feel alone. You may help them to feel part of a community and to know that they’re not on their own. You could provide them with information that they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten from doctors and loved ones! 

You might help loved ones of someone who is chronically ill to better understand what they are going through. This might help them to be more empathetic and supportive. You might also help them to understand how they can actively help their loved one in practical ways, and even highlight what not to do!

This study explains that, “Illness blogs may allow a patient to articulate his or her narrative with the advantage of online interaction with others—family, friends, and other patients with similar health concerns.”

Learning

You might find that you’re learning a lot through your writing. You may learn more about your illness as you do research for blog posts. This can be really helpful in coping with your symptoms. It’s also common to find that you’re learning about your own emotions through your writing and becoming much more self aware.

Finding meaning and purpose

Having purpose and motivation is so important when it comes to living with chronic illness. A lot of people with severe symptoms who are not receiving appropriate treatment, are unable to work or study: this depends on the individual’s situation of course. Often this can leave you feeling a bit lost and lacking that sense of purpose. Blogging can give you this purpose back!

Blogging can give you something to focus on and be proactively involved in. It can give you that motivation to get up in the morning and to keep functioning. It can give you hope and a feeling of achievement, especially when you connect with others who have read your blog posts and who you’ve helped.

When you have purpose, you’re far more likely to actively self-manage your chronic pain.  You’re more likely to seek out appropriate treatment, to advocate for yourself, and to keep up with treatments. 

It’s common for those with chronic illness to experience comorbid mental illness, like depression and anxiety. Having a sense of meaning and hope in your life can make a huge difference to your mood and provide a really positive distraction. Often when you have something that makes you happy and keeps you busy, it can shift your mindset from feeling negative, to feeling much more positive in general. This in turn can reduce stress levels and help to ease chronic pain symptoms

This 2018 study on the topic explains that: “regular blogging is potentially useful for people with chronic pain as it provides a conduit to enable them to connect with others who understand and share their experiences of pain, possibly encouraging increased participation in personally meaningful life activities, positive pain management experiences, and social connectedness.”

Accountability

When you’re writing regularly about your symptoms and connecting with an audience, it can make you feel more accountable for your actions. It can motivate you to want to improve your life, to tackle your chronic illness in the best way you can, and to set a good example. These can all be amazing motivating factors, which can really help you to feel uplifted and determined. 

Gaining confidence

As you start blogging you might find that your confidence is rising! Making social connections with others who really understand you can feel great. Seeing that others are reading your writing and gaining something from it can give you a huge confidence boost. When someone leaves a positive comment on your blog about how you’ve helped them, it can really lift you up.

Living with a chronic condition can often have a significant effect on your sense of self. If you aren’t able to keep up with hobbies and interests that used to make you happy, and you aren’t able to work, it can make you feel a bit lost as to who you are as a person. Having a purpose can also really enhance your sense of self. It can help you to reclaim what your chronic illness might have taken from you.

Creating a routine

Blogging can help you to create a routine, especially if you’re blogging regularly. You may have specific days that you post blogs, along with days which you assign to write, edit, and take or choose photographs. The process can help you to organise your time and create a routine which keeps you active and engaged with life.

Building a career

If you enjoy writing and are dedicated to it, your blogging could turn into a career! As you gain more writing experience and build up your blog, your audience may increase. You might be able to start making money from your own personal blog. You could also use your writing skills to branch out into other paid writing opportunities. This can provide a fantastic opportunity to earn money with a flexible schedule, from home, in a way that suits you and works around your symptoms.

Keeping track of your progress

Blogging can be almost like keeping a diary. You can keep track of your progress as you go through treatment, as you learn about your illness, and as you learn how to live a full life despite it. It can be amazing to look back months later at where you started and the progress you’ve made.

Having fun

Aside from all the other benefits, blogging can also be a ton of fun! It can be so enjoyable to build something from scratch which is all your own. Watching your writing be read by others and creating content which matters to you can be fantastic. Seeing your audience build as more people read your work and engage with you is thrilling.

Tips For Getting Started With Blogging

We’ve covered just how beneficial blogging about your chronic illness can be. Now we’ll go through some tips if you’re just starting out with blogging about your chronic illness.

Write what matters to you

What makes your blog special and unique is you. Write about your own experience and what matters to you. 

Develop your own style

Try not to worry too much about comparing the way you write or the way your blog looks to others. You’ll develop your own style over time and grow in confidence. Be yourself and that is what will shine through in your writing and make it stand out.

Blog regularly

Post on your blog regularly, whether it’s once a week or once a month. Whatever timeline fits in with your life is what’s important, but consistency is key. Set realistic goals and keep up with them the best you can.

Remember you are in control

The blog is yours. You are in control. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about something, you don’t have to. If you get a comment you don’t feel comfortable with, you can block that person from leaving future comments. This is your safe space to express yourself.

Connect with other chronic illness bloggers

Getting that sense of community we mentioned is so important. You can connect with other chronic illness bloggers by reading, following, and commenting on their blogs. You can also find them online through social media, where there is a great community of bloggers and chronic illness warriors who are very supportive.

Use a free blogging platform

When you’re just starting out, use a free blogging platform until you figure out whether this is for you. Some people continue using free platforms in the long term. Medium.com and WordPress.com are good platforms to take a look at, although there are many others out there too.

Have fun

Remember to have fun! Enjoying blogging is the main motivator for getting involved, so be sure to relax and enjoy writing.

References

Ressler, P. K., Bradshaw, Y. S., Gualtieri, L., & Chui, K. K. (2012). “Communicating the experience of chronic pain and illness through blogging.” Journal of medical Internet research, 14(5), e143. 

Samuel Tsai, Emma Crawford, Jenny Strong, (2018), “Seeking virtual social support through blogging: A content analysis of published blog posts written by people with chronic pain”. Sage Journals.

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