Writing is in my blood. It’s what I do. I’ve been writing since as far back as I can remember. I was born to write. I’ve always kept journals, but in the past, most of the writing about myself has been a private venture. I think it’s a big step to share your story publically, regardless of the topic.
When I was an undergraduate, I wrote for the school newspaper, had an internship for two summers at a small-town, community newspaper, and wrote a 125-page honors thesis. Now as a graduate student, I’m writing my dissertation, which will become a book-length opus to my sociological research.
I write all kinds of things; poems, fiction, non-fiction. I’m pretty much an equal opportunity writer.
I would like to think that I would be blogging about something if it weren’t for chronic illness, but I didn’t even know what blogging or a blog was before I got sick.
When I think back to my summer internship at the newspaper, a blog would have been the perfect format for me to have chronicled that time. Instead, I sent out weekly e-mails to a list of family and friends. A blog would have been much more user friendly.
But alas, I started blogging a week after my “official” diagnosis of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in 2008. At the time, I was floundering. Physically, I was in pain and felt like I had been hit by a truck. Emotionally, I felt like I had been steamrolled. I wasn’t in a good place.
From the beginning, I have prided myself in being open and honest about my illness experience. I have had a no-holds-barred approach, sharing details, maybe to a fault.
But no matter. The thing that I like about blogging is that, at least as far as my own is concerned, it is happening in real time. My thoughts and feelings are documented, sometimes looking back, but mostly as they are occurring.
I started writing to the cosmos. It wasn’t quite an abyss because I imagined that there was at least one person out there reading what I was saying. I started writing about my illnesses as a way to keep the people in my life abreast of what was happening to me, as phone conversations and in-person meet-ups weren’t necessarily often enough to have people stay current and not be overwhelmed by information.
But soon my writing became a life line to the outside world. It provided the opportunity for people I already knew to get to know me better, and for those new to my life, it created a connection that wouldn’t have occurred any other way.
Writing is food for my soul. When I sit down and write the shit out of something, it makes me feel better. Writing helps me to express my thoughts in a way that other types of self-expression don’t.
For me, blogging has given me the emotional support/commiseration that I wasn’t always finding in my “real” life. If I hadn’t started blogging, I might still feel like the only one in the world that this is happening to, that I was the only 22-year-old (at the time) ever to be diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
And I’ve met so many wonderful and amazing chronically ill people, that it’s easy to see our illnesses are not a result of inherent personal failings, but some happenstance flip of a switch or roll of the dice. I am grateful for all of the amazing connections I have made with people, near and far.
I am grateful for this medium because it has helped me document things – and there have been so many over the past several years – that I’m glad I can be reminded of them now, even if I don’t remember the particular instances by heart anymore.
Without all of my readers, I truly don’t know where I would be.
This blog has become life-sustaining.
I write for you. And I write for me.
(I’ll be hosting the next, and final edition of PFAM for 2011, so be sure to check back here in the coming days for more information)