Each week we are highlighting a different Chronic Illness Bloggers’ member as our ‘Blogger of the Week‘. 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 Sally Burch of Just ME.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Prior to illness onset in March 2012 I was a biology lecturer living on an organic small-holding with my husband and our four children. We often hosted foreign Help Exchange visitors who helped with the animals, garden and house in exchange for their keep and some sight-seeing. All that stopped abruptly when I became suddenly unable to work and increasingly incapacitated by ME – myalgic encephalomyelitis. Sadly it is a very misunderstood illness and often portrayed in the media as if it were not serious.
2. What is your blog called and how do you define your blog’s purpose?
My blog is called“Just ME” because often people perceive ME to be “just” about tiredness, but also because the blog is really “just” a collection of my opinions. Mostly I see my blog as a means of sharing information about ME with others. I try to write about the type of things those newly ill with ME need to know. I also use my blog to help with campaigns, to report on local events, and to give my opinion on current ME issues.
3. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started my blog in December 2013 after being ill for almost 2 years. I realised that I was writing some lengthy opinion pieces on forums and on Facebook, and that they then got lost in cyberspace. I felt that a blog would be a good place to record some of those opinions so that I could find them again if I later wanted to share the ideas with others.
4. How often do you post? What made you decide to post on this schedule?
I don’t post to a schedule. I write only when I have something to say. However I can be a bit opinionated (perhaps a foible of being a teacher, and a mother) so my blog still gets 40 – 50 posts each year. Not quite one a week, and not always evenly spread across the months of the year.
5. Do you feel blogging has benefitted you? If so, how?
Very much so. At a time when my physical abilities were being stripped from me, I found that having a voice through my blog really helped me to believe that I could contribute something useful to the world. I also met other bloggers online and found strength in the community I found there.
6. Why do you feel it’s important to blog about chronic illness?
Many might say that blogging about chronic illness is about raising awareness beyond the circles of the chronically ill, but I don’t see that as my main purpose in blogging. My blog speaks mostly to those who are themselves ill, and discusses ways of coping, and what we can do to change the way our illness is treated by both medical professionals and society at large. However, despite not really writing for the general population, I know that some of my posts have been circulated beyond ME circles, and so perhaps they have had an awareness raising influence, and of course I am pleased about that.
7. What are your top 3 blogging tips for other bloggers?
1. Write about what you are passionate about: if it doesn’t really matter to you – don’t write about it.
2. Write about one concept at a time and distill your thoughts so that you are succinct. Often a first draft is too long.
3. Always include a unique image in each post, so that when your post is shared online people will notice the post as new.