5 Challenges Blogging with a Chronic Illness…

Chronic Illnesses, Invisble Illnesses, Mental Illnesses, Physical Illnesses

 with a sprinkle of advice.

Hello, there 🙂

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If you haven’t read my other posts, welcome. It’s not a secret anymore I am a spoonie. I am Morgan Isabella Shaw, a 24 years old that suffers from Ehlers Danlos Sydrome. However, recently when I was procrastinating, I remembered I haven’t confessed how challenging it is to blog when you have a chronic illness.

I will admit I find multiple things an uphill battle. Cooking, washing myself, walking, relationships and blogging is no different. Actually, it doesn’t happen – unless I am blogging from bed. Even then, five minutes into starting a post I tend to experience a  flare up and struggle to finish writing it that day.  As, I throw my laptop down, I feel disappointed in myself I have not met the strict self-inflicted deadline.

If you land on my homepage you will notice I endeavour to publish one post week.

One post a week – is that it?

Many fire back at me with an eye roll or one raised eyebrow. This made realise how many people do not understand how many challenges are behind the scenes for me to keep on generating posts.This post will let you walk into another part of my mind and reveal 5 challenges a chronically ill person may face when they decide to become a blogger…


5 Challenges of Blogging with a Chronic Illness

1. Blogging is Addicting

 I don’t know if blogging is addicting for everyone or if it just applies to me because of my addictive personality.  I use blogging as a natural remedy for my clinical depression so I try to do it as much as possible to release emotions.

The problem with this is, I have found is I end up not getting other important things done. For example,  I sit very confused looking at University briefs, because I can’t find a private tutor this year –  so I turn my mind to blogging instead.

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If you find yourself in this position you need to like me – try and snap out of it and  make a loose time management schedule, so you can do everything.  As I move through the academic year I am aware that my blog is going to have to take a backseat if I am to pass it, not because I am abandoning you! I also have to admit the more I want to blog the more I shut myself away from my friends. However, I don’t want to give up blogging.  For once I am starting to enjoy one thing again, which in turn makes me feel less suicidal on the whole.


2. Limited Energy

With most chronic illness comes chronic pain, fatigue and brain fog which makes it difficult to concentrate.  I spend every spare second I have whether that be on the toilet or public transport thinking of new blog ideas and content. The issue associated with this is, my brain goes into overdrive – I  now don’t know how not to think.I am awake until the early hours of the morning. I can’t blame blogging entirely for this – I have always been known as a lady of the night up with pain. However, before my mind got a longer rest.

When my I-phone is ringing in my ear  I know the next day  has hit.  I then *sigh* reaching for the closest can of coca-cola to be able to manoeuvre up right and override the extreme tiredness for a short period of time.  Due to my levels of tiredness I get fed up very easily…

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So, even if I have the best idea for a blog – I lack motivation  to actually blog as even the computer screen stares back at me like a fiend.  A part of this is attributed that with a chronic illness, you never know when bad patches will attack you.  This means it is also difficult to plan a content and schedule and actually STICK to it.


3. Anxiety and Negativity

 I can be a very negative person. To date, I will be honest I only have 66 followers.   I become anxious that no one will like or share my posts and that even sharing my reflections will be worthless.  I panic that the more I write the worse my academic writing for University will become and I am convinced I am going to fail there too.

The reason behind this is, blogging is very descriptive writing and University expects a much more critical standpoint for assessments.  I then wonder if I am being too ‘open’ with the public in what I am sharing and worry that it will affect future opportunities. For example – I need to pull my finger out my arse and start applying for 12 month placements for my degree.

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I frequently question, if having a blog will be a hindrance and shed light that I used drugs in my past, have clinical depression and that I am disabled. I don’t want special treatment but I know I need to disclose my disabilities on a job application form because my pain affects me on a day-to-day basis.  Whilst, this is all spinning around in my small brain,  I then worry about when I take a back seat from blogging –  if I can ever get the passion back because for other hobbies when I lost them, it was lost forever…


4. Being a Citizen of the Blogosphere

It is also no secret I struggle with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. I find that when I read someone else’s blog to try and learn about other illnesses I don’t always understand what I am reading initially. Everything just gets lost in translation.

How do I overcome this?

I spend a lot of time on Google to understand what the illness is first and then go back to the individuals’ blog.  All of this is interesting but very time consuming.  You may be thinking – well just skip this part, but that would be a vital mistake.  Commenting on posts is essential to improve your writing skills and how you engage with other people.

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5. Gaining Traffic and Post Engagement

In October, I received just over 3,000 unique visitors. Although, I am not sure I really did receive this many as it is likely  some of these visitors were in fact me stalking myself using my friends’ phones as I was without one for a while.

I am unlucky with any electrical product! ( I  was definitely was born in the wrong century)..

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Additionally, I don’t have a strong social media following across many platforms.  I spend the most time on the one where I do have a following – Facebook, to try to gain traffic for my blog.  I am also putting ‘all my eggs in one basket’ and hoping when I finally set up a YouTube channel this will improve my traffic and engagement… as I try to figure out how to increase my Twitter and  Pinterest following.

On Facebook I post my blog posts on my wall, into a couple blogging groups and into chronic illness support groups when I have permission to do so.

 


That Sprinkle of Advice 

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Do you have a chronic illness and are thinking about becoming a blogger?

 DO IT!

Just remember don’t punish yourself for not being able to post as much as you would like to gain a following.  Fellow bloggers divulged that blogging consistently is very important, where I have fallen short a little bit as the times and days I post content really does vary. This is something I am going to work to improve as I become more experienced and I hope my readers understand that this is not always be possible.

On groups, ensure you always read the pinned posts in groups or you can find yourself getting an inbox of angry admin messages and deleted out of groups.  I find the most effective way to promote your blog on Facebook is through Facebook pages BUT be careful you will be blocked by Facebook if you are a repeat offender.

I think if you post a series on one theme, you may gain more followers. However, I don’t do this because my mind is scatty and like to think of lots of different topics at the same time!


So, guys there are the challenges I have faced blogging with a chronic illness. Next, you can expect to find 5 more general challenges I found since becoming a blogger and what I’ve learnt about myself since becoming a chronic illness blogger.


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I would love if you shared this post to raise awareness of some of the challenges a chronic illness blogger faces!


Have your Say

If you a blogger what are some challenges you face?

If you’re a chronic illness blogger do you face similar or different challenges to me?


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Join me on my journey on social media;

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Thanks for staying tuned in bed with me and I hope to see you back soon.

Lots of Love,

my name

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The chronically ill student’s quick-guide to success

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It is hard enough for University students to balance their coursework and exams with their social life. So, when a chronic illness is thrown into a mix, it definitely puts a spanner in the works.  Surviving student life with a long-lasting illness can appear daunting, impossible.

Trust me, I know. I had a mental break down three weeks in my first year and nearly dropped out.  The tips I am going to give you, are the techniques that enabled me to find my feet ; study with more ease and achieve high grades.


1.  Apply for DSA

If you have a chronic illness, you should qualify for Disability Student Allowance (DSA).  You apply for this through Student Finance (SF). You will then be offered a ‘Needs Assessment’ . This assessment determines what you are entitled to, based on your individual circumstances.

If you take anything from this post, it is really worth taking the time to make an application because your disability will be on record – even if you switch unis or defer. Module leaders are also made aware of your specific needs and you should get extra writing in exams and coursework extensions. Other examples I received were; printing costs ,  individual £1 taxi journeys costing  to and from campuses and Dragon software.  The software works by you speaking into a microphone and it types up what you say.


2. Order groceries online

Getting your groceries delivered may sound like a trivial thing but if you have a physical illness, it is something you MUST do. Not only will the delivery man become your new best friend, you won’t break your back in the process of buying food. food

It is easy to want to buy everything online but don’t spend money for the sake of it unless you are mintedIf not – like the majority of the student population, it is wise to set yourself a limit so you don’t become the size of a hippo and can go out.

Most supermarkets add basket charges which cost between £3-£6 each time.  If you want to do lots of little shops, TESCO delivery saver gives you the choice to pay for unlimited deliveries as long as you reach the minimum spend (£40).


3.  Select a disabled bedroom

Most Universities, allocate disabled spacious rooms in halls with larger beds on the ground floor. You will need to apply for the room during the booking of the accommodation and disclose evidence of your disability. I recommend doing this otherwise you might find it difficult to get to sleep with pain.


4. Cook meals in bulk

When your illness flares up, I know it can be difficult to do anything. When mine does I don’t want to get out of bed unless it’s to eat – I am a proper foodie. Cooking meals in bulk ensures that you always have something to eat, should you feel hungry – which is important for recovery.   Quick and easy nutritional meals I recommend that are fresh are; stir fries, steak, pasta, jacket potato with beans, sandwiches and chicken with salads.


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5. Be upfront & request help

Being open can be a difficult thing; for many in a new environment with strangers.  You may worry more that people won’t accept you because your different. Don’t worry, just be honest about your illness. When I wasn’t honest about mine I lost a lot of friends because they thought I was boring when I couldn’t go out.

Don’t live a lie and just try to keep up with the pace of everyone else. The chances are, you won’t be able to for long and burn out. Also, talk to your lecturers and  about your condition.  Discussing your illness can make them more understanding than it written down on a piece of paper.


6. Visit wellbeing

Every Uni, has a wellbeing department.  Go VISIT it.  You will be designated a disability advisor, who handle matters on your behalf and can help you with queries. My advisor helped me talk through my options if I was to stay or drop out of Uni and drafted my disability memo to staff.  You may find that you are entitled to extra support that is run by your specific institution too. For example, stress-relief and anxiety workshops.


7. Buy an audio recorder

When you do roll up to those 9am lectures, with a potential hangover and chronic audio recorderillness; chances are you won’t be playing much attention.

If your Uni does not record lectures, buy an audio recorder – they are only about £20 from Curries or Argos.  This device was literally my savour throughout first year and helped me remember content. However, make sure you sit near the front to get clear audio. I don’t think I would have achieved my high grades without this gem.


8. Take your laptop to lectures

Some lectures, speak very fast.  So, I suggest you take a laptop so you can open up the slides and go back and forth at your pace to keep up.


9. Have a structure

Try to plan your days as best as you can. So, you can relax  at societies and find time to do your coursework.  This can be difficult when your ill and one day merges into another but the secret is you can have a loose routine as long as you stay organised. By this I mean completing coursework progressively and putting your notes in a folder.


10. Take the free support available

I know, it can be hard to accept help, because of pride – you don’t want your illness to define you.  I was reluctant at first to take help but I was really struggling to plan my workload.  You are likely to get a learning support assistant through DSA for one hour per week in a study room.

The assistants are not subject specific but are still useful. During these sessions the tutor taught me how to structure essays for exam, check my progress and helped me plan. Be aware though – if you miss 2 consecutively without 24 hours’ notice your Uni reserves the right to stop these sessions for the entire semester.



 So, there we have it guys. My guide for the chronic ill student’s success.

I hope you found it useful.

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