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How Blogging Helped Me Cope with a Chronic, Invisible Illness

Adapted for ProHealth.com and reprinted with kind permission of Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio from lymeroad.com [1].

Over the years, blogging has been a crucial part of my healing journey from a chronic, invisible illness. When I began blogging, I intended to create a place where I could process my feelings and work through the pain and difficulty of a prolonged, gloomy season in my life. I hoped that by writing bits and pieces of my story, I could boost my spirits—I wanted to let go of the past and embrace the possibilities of my future.

My intention was to inspire myself to keep believing that I could live joyfully, while fighting to regain my health. On October 26th, 2013, I pressed “Publish” for my first post. Much to my surprise, friends, family, and strangers read the post; even my very busy doctor took a moment out of his day to view it and write a comment.

In the beginning, I never considered others might be interested in the story I had to tell. I didn’t imagine people would actually be following my ups and downs. I’m honored that my story has served as an encouragement to others.

Blogging has been an amazing platform to help me cope and aid in the healing process through my health struggles. If you’re battling depression, maybe blogging (or writing and journaling) can be therapeutic tool for you as well.

Here are seven ways blogging has been crucial to my healing journey:

1. It boosted my self-esteem.

I have lost a lot of my life to illness, and my confidence had been badly shaken. Blogging helped me realize that I still had gifts and talents to share with the world that weren’t dependent on whether I was well. If I just kept working a little at a time, I could accomplished a post and share another piece of my story with others.

2. It gave writing back to me.

When I was a child, I used to spend hours in my room writing story after story with abandon. In growing up, getting older, and getting a “real job,” I lost that passion. Years of textbooks, heavy with medical and therapy jargon, had stymied my creativity. Blogging allowed me an avenue where I could explore my creative side again. Although my brain was sometimes mired in a thick fog, it felt so good to see a finished article on the page.

3. It’s provided me with free therapy.

I’m a firm believer that therapists are critical allies to overcome depression. But when you’re in between appointments and craving help, those are the times when blogging may be useful to you.

For me, I held on tightly to painful memories not knowing how to safely release them. Through the power of words, I was able to cry and grieve my heart’s most distressing moments. The result? I developed a profound understanding that although there was difficulty in life, I could still experience hope. Ultimately, that’s what I want for myself–a life filled with hope.

4. It gave me a social life again.

I blogged at home while sitting on the couch or lying in bed—the lack of human interaction brought about a profound sense of loneliness. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have guessed that I would meet such a kind, helpful group of people online. I’m lucky enough to have developed real friendships with several of these people. Connecting and networking with other bloggers is one way to meet like-minded people working towards the same goals as you—recovering and getting healthier mentally and physically! 

5. It allowed me to take risks.

I have always loved to take risks, learn a new skill, or try something different. For years, I had to extinguish that desire and make the pursuit of healing my number one priority. I was too weak, too sick and too tired to dream of embarking on an adventure. Blogging has help me to find the courage to try something new again.

Shortly after I began writing, I guest posted on a few other blogs. Then, I decided to take a chance and submit a few posts to a well-known health and wellness website. But I soon realized that I still had a lot to learn about the writing world.

The first post I sent to the online publication was not the easily shareable format they use on their website. My second post to them sounded like I was trying to sell something. Through failure, I realized I needed to take time to develop a writing style and niche that was unique to me.

Finally, my third attempt was accepted, which would pave the way for a career as a health and wellness writer and editor a few years down the road.

6. It taught me that support can come from unexpected places.

Of course, I expected that my family and a few close friends would read my blog. What I did not expect, however, is that support, empathy, and encouraging words would come from other people’s mothers, old high school classmates, ex-colleagues, and strangers from around the world! Truly, those people have been a blessing to me and a source of great comfort and strength. 

7. It has helped me to see that I have choices. 

The onset of mental and physical illnesses can feel overwhelming and isolating. Although I may not have been able control what was happening to my body, I realized I could make choices that supported a more positive outlook and mindset.   

I had a choice to not let my heart be in turmoil over my current circumstances. Daily, I could choose to renew my thinking by focusing on the goodness and beauty of the world around me. In almost every post I wrote, I challenged myself to implement these two equations:

Such a simple formula to help me cope with illness. Several  years later, it’s one I continue to use to get through the most difficult days. It doesn’t solve all my problems, but it certainly does make them more bearable.

ProHealth Editor and Content Manager Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and certified Pilates instructor whose life was transformed by Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and interstitial cystitis. She is creator of the DVD, A [2]New Dawn Pilates [3]: pilates-inspired exercises adapted for people with pelvic pain. Jenny is a health journalist who writes about her journey on The Lyme Road [1] as she continues to pursue her personal healing with the support of her husband and two rescue pups. You can find her on Instagram: @jenny_buttaccio [4] or Twitter: @jennybuttaccio [5].