4 steps to start your own chronic illness site

December 21, 2015

I started this blog four and a half years ago without knowing what it would become or how long it would last. What it became was my lifeline. It has helped me in more ways than I can say. It provides me with an outlet for my thoughts and feelings, a community, people who understand, a way to stay connected when I’m feeling isolated, support, and so much more.

Readers have said they wished they could blog and/or communicate on social media. Well, you can! And it doesn’t even have to involve writing.

I’m no social media expert, but I know a bit, so let me share some of what I know with you.


First, decide if you’re going to be yourself or anonymous. I chose to be anonymous for this blog. A bit over a year ago I started a Tumblr account under my read name. Tumblr is very different. I also have a blog under my real name, but it’s business-related and has nothing to do with chronic illness.


Now that you have your name, decide how you prefer to communicate. Choose 1 or 2 ways to start. You can always add more later. You could write, speak, or do video. If you found this blog, you probably know how to find others. Look on YouTube for examples of videos and do online searches for podcasts. Get a feel for what’s out there and think about what you’d like most.

Another option is to create photos, memes, and things like that. Or you might choose to share what others create. My Tumblr account is almost entirely  reposting what I see in my feed. I only write my own original things rarely.

Are you an artist? You could draw cartoons, share paintings, or share photos of clay work.


For blogging you can go to WordPress.com and create a free account (or pay $20 per year for your own domain) or you can set up a hosted blog that you pay for on WordPress.org. There are other blogging sites, of course. These are just the ones that I use.

If you want to make videos, you can start by posting them to YouTube.

I don’t know anything about creating podcasts, but I bet you could find a few handy dandy guides online.

To share short thoughts and memes, try Tumblr and Twitter. They’re very different and are both worth investigating. I started out on Twitter and did well there (you can find me at @msrants) but the atmosphere has changed and so have I, and now I’m more comfortable on Tumblr. Create a couple of free accounts and see what feels right.

Do searches for #chronicillness #chronicpain #chronicfatigue #spoonie and other tags, including tags for your diagnosis. If you like what someone is posting with those tags, follow them. For example, on Twitter I follow activists. On Tumblr I follow activists and people who share funny chronic illness memes, because sometimes I just need to laugh at this stuff. Of course, I also follow people who post nothing but photos of cute dogs…. you can definitely branch out!

If you’re going to share photos, check out Instagram. Again, look for tags to help you decide who to follow.

I don’t happen to know anything about Pinterest yet, but I’m sure it has some fabulous chronic illness resources, so check it out and see if it’s something you’d like to participate in.

Finally, there are a lot of general chronic illness groups on Facebook and also specific groups for certain symptoms and diagnoses. You can create your own page and start building a following, though I think it might be a bit harder to get followers there than with some of the other sites.


You’ve decided whether to use your real name or an anonymous one. You know if you’re going to write, speak, draw, video record, etc. You know which social media platform(s) you’re going to use. Now go do it! You might not get a huge following quickly and that’s ok! When I started this blog it took a while to get followers. Now I have a few hundred. My much younger Tumblr account has almost 1200 followers. Does it matter? To some people it does. To me it doesn’t. I’m getting exactly what I want. I’m writing and I’m building community. What could be better?


Has this post gotten you to start thinking about starting your own blog, podcast, video channel, or social media account, etc.? If so, let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts. And please ask questions and I’ll answer them the best I can.

If you already have your own site, please comment and fill in anything I’ve missed. I’m sure there’s a lot. I have no desire to learn¬†every form of social media communication. I’d rather spend the time writing here!

The problem with Facebook when you have a chronic illness

May 13, 2014

Chronic illness affects us all in different ways. 10 years ago I was working, dating, and hanging out with friends. I was almost as active as most of my peers. 2 years ago I only left the house two or three times a week, or sometimes less. Some people are as active as healthy folks. Some people are completely housebound. Some people fall somewhere in between those two extremes. But we all have limits of one kind or another.

There’s a lot of talk in psychological analysis of social media about FOMO, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s more pronounced now that we can regularly see the wonderful and spectacular things our peers are up to on Facebook and other social media platforms. I now see pictures posted by people I would have otherwise lost track of years ago. There are children, pets, vacations, jobs, and so many other activities. There’s the occasional complaint about too much work, kids who aren’t sleeping through the night, or the morning’s commute. And of course there are the political and entertainment postings. That all sounds normal to most people.

The problem is, when you’re already feeling isolated and limited, seeing everyone else’s activities can be a bit jealousy-inducing. I’m happy for my friends. I truly am. But I’m also really jealous.

Worse than the jealousy, though, is having nothing to post yourself besides the generic entertainment and political postings. Sure, some people just read the posts and don’t post their own because they’re too busy, too lazy, or prefer their privacy. That’s just fine. But it feels different when the reason is that you have nothing¬†new to post. No job, no travel, no kids, no relationships, no outings…. nothing. This is FOMO to the extreme, because we don’t just fear missing out; we really are missing out. And it feels like it’s obvious to others that we’re missing out, too.

If you have a chronic illness and are active, you’re probably still missing out on something, and it might feel really obvious to you when you see all of the postings by others. When you’re not leaving the house much or at all, you’re missing out on everything.

This is the point in the post where I’m supposed to tell you that it’s ok. There are more important things in life. It is and there are. But it still sucks. I won’t patronize you or myself by saying that we shouldn’t be upset by this, that there’s no point in comparing ourselves to others, etc. We know this and sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I read Facebook status updates and just feel happy for my friends. Other times I wish I could have joined friends at a concert or posted my own vacation photos. Sometimes I feel so lonely and isolated that I just avoid social media for a while. But inevitably I return.

I’m not offering a solution. I am only offering this one thing: you’re not the only one who feels this way. You’re not alone. And it’s ok. Go ahead, feel bad about what you’re missing. Then go do something fun for yourself, even if it’s something not considered Facebook-worthy, like watching your favorite movie. I’ll be here watching mine.

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