Exactly two years ago this month, I was ecstatic to start my brand new blog.
After I became disabled and had to give up my career and completely stop working, I had spent two years in a deep depression and one year just lost. I found joy in using my experiences to encourage and educate others in different online chronic illness forums.
So I decided to use one of my biggest loves and talents- writing- to start a blog.
I was It Hurts to Mom was going to be my passion project.
It was going to give my life purpose again.
So I wrote my first blog post- all about whether or not the world needed another blog. My answer was yes: because there are few too places where people with chronic pain and chronic illness could turn to for encouragement, support, and even hope.
And even fewer that focused on parenting with pain and illness. I reminded myself that my ideas, perspectives, struggles, and wins could help someone else.
Then the next month, I experienced something traumatic.
The Call that Almost Destroyed It All
While on a video call, I witnessed something traumatic—to me and the little girl it was happening to. She was so young that she didn't even realize what was going on.
April happens to be Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month. So I started a blog post promoting this. But when I posted a public service announcement sharing what I'd seen and urging everyone to check their video conferencing settings, something unthinkable happened.
In the three places where I shared it, only a handful of people even reacted to the post. Out of hundreds I'm connected to.
Then I realized that nobody cared when I spoke out against the man who had sexually abused me. Or about the rape of my brother. Or about the multiple friends who had been sexually abused.
And I got discouraged. Thinking nobody would care about anything I had to say.
Nearly two years and some trauma therapy later, I'm restarting my blog.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50 million Americans (about 20%)—and 1.5 billion people around the world—live with chronic pain.
Then there’s chronic illness (which may be apart from or in addition to chronic pain). The U.S. National Health Council estimates 157 million Americans have at least one chronic illness, and who knows how many billion from the rest of the world?
Yet finding information on living with chronic pain and illness is difficult.
And finding information and support that includes parenting with pain and illness is even more challenging. This just isn’t a subject that’s prevalent on the internet. Or anywhere, really.
Healthy people don’t want to hear the chronically ill talk about our struggles. Our society often has a “suck it up and deal with it” attitude when it comes to things like pain and mental illness.
If I break my arm, everyone will ask how I’m doing and actually want to hear the answer. But with chronic illness, it never goes away and often never gets better. So people don’t ask because the real answer is going to sound “negative” or like we’re “complaining”.
The average person wants to be around positive people. So we the sufferers get used to saying we’re doing fine no matter what the truth is. And trust me, most of us don’t want to be pitied anyway.
So I imagine that having blogs devoted to people living with 24/7 health and pain issues doesn’t appeal to the general public. Unfortunately that means we’re left to silently deal with the physical struggles and the usually concurrent mental and emotional warfare.
But after 25 years of being in chronic pain, my pain and illnesses need a voice!
And that voice is going to say that:
1) I’m not alone, even when it feels like everyone else is healthy and able-bodied, and
2) we can find encouragement, hope, community, and joy in our lives even amidst our conditions.
After all these years of suffering alone, I need a purpose for my pain, as well as encouragement, hope, and community.
And perhaps you need these things, too.
Today I will remember...
that my voice is important, and somebody out there needs to hear what I have to say.