This is the start of a new series on Chronic Illness Bloggers and each week we will be highlighting a different member. As well as getting to know each other better, we hope that you enjoy this series and that you find the interviews with each member to be insightful and helpful.

This week our blogger of the week is Donna of February Stars.

Donna Grant of the blog February Stars1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am 29 and live with my husband and our pet dog Oscar. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2013. This, along with my passion for writing, led me to set up my blog February Stars shortly after my diagnosis. In addition to writing, I also enjoy photography and pretty much anything that would be considered crafty. I love to travel, which had to go on the back burner for a while as I was too sick to travel. I am happy to say I am now finding a way to make travel work for me again, despite my health challenges.

2. What is your blog called and how do you define your blog’s purpose?
My blog is called February Stars. It started out as a personal blog and a means to share my own experiences of life with fibromyalgia but has now grown into a lifestyle and wellness blog. I share tips and advice relating to living well with chronic illness, intertwined with stories from my life and posts about healthy living. The purpose of February Stars is to empower women (and a few men) to make positive life changes that will enable them to live as well as possible despite their health challenges.

3. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I have been blogging since 2013. I started blogging shortly after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have always been passionate about writing and that was one of the reasons why I started; I wanted to document my life with fibromyalgia through writing. However, the main driving force behind the decision to set up my blog was that I wanted to help other people through sharing my own experiences. Through my own research, I found that most of what I read on the internet focussed on how life was a struggle with fibromyalgia. I’m not for a second saying that it is not a struggle but I found a lot of what I read to be so depressing and not very helpful to someone newly diagnosed. I did find a few gems—such as countingmyspoons.com— and I guess I wanted to add a helpful and positive voice in a sea of mostly negativity.

4. How often do you post? What made you decide to post on this schedule?
I post once per week. If I am able to I occasionally post more. I made this decision as it is what is best for my health. I find writing to be very tiring and it exacerbates my symptoms if I don’t pace myself. It’s not an activity I can do every day and I learned that the hard way. I was posting three times per week at one point and it burned me out. It wasn’t until I slowed down that I realised just how tasking writing actually is for me.

5. Do you feel blogging has benefitted you? If so, how?
Absolutely. From a personal view point, blogging can be really cathartic and it helps me to work through the problems I am experiencing. The biggest benefit, however, has definitely been the connections I have made through blogging. I have met some amazingly supportive people and connected with other wonderful bloggers and brands. This has helped me immensely in my own life with fibromyalgia.

6. Why do you feel it’s important to blog about chronic illness?
I think it’s important for a few reasons. Firstly, blogging helps to raise awareness of chronic illness and also helps to educate people about what life with chronic illness is like. I also believe in becoming your own health advocate and I think there is a lot that we can learn from each other; blogging is a great way to share information with each other. I also think blogging is important as it helps to connect chronic illness patients. It shows us that we are not alone and that we all share in similar experiences. This can be very important as having a chronic illness can be an isolating experience for many—particularly if you don’t know anyone else who is ill—and blogging can help to show we are not alone in what we are going through.

7. What are your top 3 blogging tips for other bloggers?
1. Pace yourself, be mindful of your limitations and stick to a blogging schedule that works for you.
2. Try to schedule posts in advance as much as possible. This means that you will have more time to promote your blog and it gives you some leeway for those times where you don’t feel up to blogging.
3. Keep your about page up-to-date. Most new readers who land on your site will go on to read your about page if they like what they see. Brands may also check this out too so keep that in mind. I always want to know who the person behind the blog is, their blog’s purpose and what kind of content I can expect to read.

 

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