The Book of Love
I’ve been writing about my illness in one form or another since my diagnosis over 8 years ago. I suppose it started with diaries as it always has; I’ve kept a diary since I was around 12 years old.
It was part of the joy of Christmas for me; being gifted a new one to start afresh each January, and excitedly penning the adventures of Jan 1st in my neatest handwriting, only to watch it develop into a borderline indistinguishable scrawl as the months went by. Like a flick book where the illustration is some sort of slowly developing dumpster fire.
My diaries developed into a blog, (post-diagnosis), then I began writing articles for various magazines and sites, then I wrote a book! Well, books plural, now as I’ve just released my second!
Writing for me is a wondrous safe haven of sorts.
My diaries throughout my life have been confidants, a safe place where I can store my ideas, offload my worries, work through my emotions and most importantly, RANT about X Y and/or Z and why they are the absolute worst letters of the alphabet. My diaries treated me with no judgement as I grew up, they didn’t argue and they didn’t mock. They just let me litter their pages with teenage angst, heartbreak, growing-pain terror, and occasional joy.
So when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease my diary was again a place to release; I was terrified and confused and lacking in knowledge. I was afraid for my life and I was conscious my family and friends were feeling similar fear and trepidation. That’s why my diary was such a great place to share my own fears – I didn’t have to upset anyone else in the process.
After my first surgery in 2011 I began a blog. This seemed another safe place to talk about my illness – albeit a little more public. I wanted to try and find other people who suffered from the same disease, to help me learn about my condition and I wanted to try and help others in a similar position if I could. My blog grew and attracted a continued readership and even won some blogging awards! I found a new lease of life through words where a few months prior I’d felt utterly hopeless.
I went on to write a book on Crohn’s Disease which was published last year called Go Your Crohn Way, which has received fantastic reviews and made me happier than a basket full of kittens in little bow ties. The whole process of my book being sent out into the world was unexpectedly overwhelming. I cried a LOT and when the excitement and adrenaline died down I realised the impact it all had on me; MY life was out in the world for everyone to see. I’d been accepted and appreciated and felt like somehow years of pain and struggle finally had a purpose. I haven’t stopped writing since, and my next book, for women with chronic illness came out this week! My Flare Lady is a handbook of sorts for fellow women who live day to day with incurable and debilitating illness. It’s HARD living with chronic conditions and I want to give women in similar situations something to help them feel less alone, less afraid and to LAUGH!
Writing is for me more than just a hobby or a blossoming career; it’s a lifeline. I love writing because it connects me with the world, it allows me to share and comfort other sufferers and their loved ones. What a privilege!!
Writing isn’t for everyone of course so I’m by no means suggesting you all grab your nearest quill and pen the next War and Peace; but any creativity of some sort is a magical outlet for those of us who live with pain and disease. So write, sing, dance, draw, paint! Express yourself and remind yourself you’re more than ‘just’ a disease! Oh and if reading is your thing then I can recommend two excellent books… ;)