Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists. Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.
Today’s prompt reads as follows:
Why I write…Tell us why you write about your health. How long have you been writing? What impact has it made on your life? Write for 15-20 minutes without stopping.
Why do I love to write about my health and my life with it? Well, for starters I would like to think that writing is something that I am good at; when living with a health condition, particularly one which is rare and unusual it is therefore only natural to want to raise awareness of the particular condition with which you have been diagnosed. For some people, raising awareness may involve organising events, or even speaking in public regarding their life and their condition. However, as I am an introvert and extremely shy, I therefore do not feel comfortable with public speaking and feel much more comfortable in expressing my thoughts and feeling on paper rather than speaking them out loud. Writing allows me to process my thoughts and feelings regarding my life and the condition that is a large part of it – writing is a very cathartic experience by writing down all my thoughts and feelings, especially the bad. Writing enables you to process your emotions, letting you to let off steam and providing a safe emotional release from the pain and anguish that often accompanies life with a chronic illness.
Another reason why I decided to start the blog and utilise social media as a part of documenting my journey with living with a neurological condition was to connect with others. For such a long time, I felt so lonely and felt as if I was the only person in the world experiencing what I was going through and therefore, I reached out to the health community in a bid to gain support that I could be provided with by the medical community. Friendship and knowledge from others experiencing chronic illness like myself was also something that I wanted to find through the health community as my world had gotten smaller, and as I am unable to get on my own, it is therefore difficult to meet others in real-life. Furthermore, I also thought that keeping a blog, would occupy my time and give me a project that would help with the boredom and monotony that comes with living with an illness and being stuck in the house for long periods as a result.
But, also I thought it would writing about my experiences with a chronic illness and disability, I could help and do my little bit to educate people on the issues that me and others in a similar situation face. For example, that not all disabilities are visible. I have heard great many stories of people with ‘invisible’ conditions having abuse thrown at them, for example when using disabled parking – even though they had the necessary permits and had a legitimate excuse for using the disabled parking spaces. This particular anecdote is extremely common amongst those with invisible disabilities, and have even experienced this myself, which I have written about in a past blog post (see ‘Becoming Visible in an Invisible World…’)
Another story I read, concerned a gentleman who suffered with Ménière’s Disease, a vestibular condition which produces similar symptoms which I suffer from – dizziness, poor balance and co-ordination, and who was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol after he was unable to walk in a straight line when asked to perform a sobriety test. Therefore, it is important for those, like me suffering from a chronic and life-long condition to stand up and speak out and to make people understand that just because a person may look fine and ‘normal’ it however does not mean to say they are – their disability or illness may be hidden underneath what we may be able to see. This reminds me of the many times when I have gone such as to the doctor’s for an appointment, where I have had my crutch with me and having a few people stare at me, as if they were judging me and wondering why on earth I was using such an aid as I didn’t have a broken leg and looked perfectly healthy.
To conclude, writing and blogging about chronic illness provides an excellent means for an emotional release of the emotions that accompany life with a chronic illness, to connect with others who are living in a similar situation and to educate others’ on the issues that we often face because of chronic illness and disability.