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 Laura of Laura’s Pen.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an ex-journalist who gave up my career when I became ill with ME/CFS. I was ill as a teenager but went into remission and was able to go to university and complete a Journalism and Creative Writing degree and spend a few years as a reporter on a trade magazine before the illness came back.
Since then I have collected diagnoses. Fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and Endometriosis have all been added to the list. I live with my partner in a flat in South London where my mission is to make friends with all the neighborhood cats.
2. What is your blog called and how do you define your blog’s purpose?
My blog is called Laura’s Pen, the idea being that then Pen is symbolic of me being a writer, even though I rarely use a pen these days to write! The purpose of my blog is, and has always been, to raise awareness of what it’s like living with chronic illness. Because of this, a lot of my posts aren’t illness-specific but are trying to reach out in a way the whole chronic illness community can relate to and hopefully reach a few able-bodied people and help them to understand our life.
However, I do occasionally do specific posts about my illnesses, such as when I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and angry it had been undiscovered for so long. It’s not all writing though, there is a comic and a spoken-word poem and I’m currently experimenting with videos too.
3. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I’ve had my blog for many years, although it’s been renamed and rebranded since it started as a little blog to keep my friends up-to-date while I lived abroad. But then I made a video for ME awareness day called: “A day in the life of M.E.” and I found a purpose for the blog.
One of my earliest posts “Chronic illness and the loss of self” taught me that blogging could be therapeutic and could help me reach out to others from the confines of my home. That post was far too long but it helped me fully process the grief and the loss that I had experienced when I became chronically ill. And it’s still my most popular post because others could really connect with that feeling.
4. How often do you post? What made you decide to post on this schedule?
I try to post once every two weeks, on a Friday. I’d love to post more but when I attempted to I made myself iller, so I decided to post less often but to make sure I had something worth saying each time.
5. Do you feel blogging has benefitted you? If so, how?
Definitely. I feel like part of a community now, rather than suffering on my own and it’s very therapeutic writing about some of these emotions and experiences. It keeps me sane. I’ve also found because I’ve always struggled to explain things in person, my blogs have led to much more understanding from my friends,
6. Why do you feel it’s important to blog about chronic illness?
It’s incredibly hard for someone without a chronic illness to fully understand the impact it has on your life. Anything you can do to make that easier is a great thing. Equally, anything you can do to help another person with chronic illness feel less isolated, manage their condition better, or find some inspiration is extremely important.
7. What are your top 3 blogging tips for other bloggers?
1. Get to know social media: your blog may be brilliant but if no-one finds it, no-one will know. I was a journo and had a pretty good handle on twitter but the Chronic illness Network ha shelled me hugely to grow my social media presence and traffic.
2. Make an ideas list on your phone. You might never use some of those ideas, but it’s always there for you to note something down and the ideas that have something will play on your mind and evolve into a fully developed one.
3. Write from the heart. Well, this is what I do anyway. I’ve put myself out there for people to see, and it’s scary sometimes when you hit the publish button (or schedule button) but when I do so, I always get a good response. I recently recorded myself reciting a poem about chronic illness and I was terrified of the reaction, but everyone has loved it (although I’ve been told a few times it made people cry and I feel a bit bad about that, but if it does the same to one non-chronic illness sufferer, then I’ve done my job).