Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Blogging For Health

What do you think the best health strategy would be?  A bowl of fruit daily, a blog post at regular intervals or a multivitamin?

Some may say that's like comparing apples and computers.

Fruit courtesy of DH

From what I have been reading you are well advised to turn on the computer and start blogging if you are looking for a novel yet accepted method of dealing with chronic disease.

Creative outlets are distracting in a good way. When you are creating something it is a huge distraction from pain or unpleasant circumstances.  That's why we see people with hand problems adapting in many ways to keep from losing their creative outlets. 

                                                          garlic clove
                                  cactus & mutant bunny all knitted by Cat Beattie

The act of writing a blog is a creative work also. I read at The Seated View last week that Lene researched writing before she started her book and found two things essential to success as a writer. It was the second essential where she cited Dorothy Parker and Stephen King  that made me remember her post and look back as I was struggling with this one. To see the essentials have a look at her post here

One thing I have always appreciated in Stephen King is his ability to use details of music, books and surroundings to set his work in a specific time or place.  This is a quality you find in many blogs of all types, not just health blogs.  Here's my idea of a shelf of interesting books. You can see why advice from King might resonate with me.

I was advised to keep a journal as a method of improving my health in a self management course and was very skeptical of the value.  Now I am coming to realize that a blog is a lot like journaling and I can see benefits to continuing to do this. 

This is a quote from the Health Mentor program that I mentioned in this post. "Personal reflection has long been recognized as an important learning tool, where new ideas and concepts can become integrated into future critical thinking and practice." It is a learning tool for others as well as for the blogger, so blogging makes you feel good about sharing hard learned information.

                                         Rosetta Stone

If you are a person who likes to help others or is accustomed to being in what I think of as a "helper profession" it can be very satisfying to share your knowledge. Julia's past career as a nurse helps her to do a great job now at  Reasonably Well in sharing information about Sjogren's Syndrome and other "fun" issues like bursitis.  She's the only person I know who ever made cookies for her infusion nurses - Mousie cookies.

                                    Julia's mousie cookies

And here are some conclusions of a paper by Pamela Ressler, Y. Bradshaw, K. Kwan and Lisa Gualtieri. The data was gathered by online questionnaire and they say it warrants further study but it makes sense to me.

Communicating the Experience of Chronic Pain and Illness Through Blogging

"Results suggest that blogging about chronic pain and illness may decrease a sense of isolation through the establishment of online connections with others and increases a sense of purpose to help others in similar situations.
Respondents reported that initiating and maintaining an illness blog resulted in increased connection with others, decreased isolation, and provided an opportunity to tell their illness story. Blogging promoted accountability (to self and others) and created opportunities for making meaning and gaining insights from the experience of illness, which nurtured a sense of purpose and furthered their understanding of their illness."


  1. This is an excellent post in so many ways, Annette. I'm looking forward to reading the attached posts and papers. The conclusion:
    "Blogging ... created opportunities for making meaning and gaining insights from the experience of illness, which nurtured a sense of purpose and furthered their understanding of their illness."
    has certainly been my experience of blogging. It really is a way of turning straw into gold. What use is all the suffering I've had if I can't transform it into something that might help others and perhaps, especially, myself?

    When it comes to learning how to write, Stephen King's 'On Writing' is one of "the" books to read. I read a lot of writing books in my twenties and if I came to recommend my favourite now, it would be 'On Writing' and Anne Lamott's 'Bird by Bird'. King's book brings such refreshing and practical humour to the craft, I think it would be impossible not to like, but I suppose all those people who say his work is not 'real' writing would disagree!

    Julia from Reasonably Well is a retired RN as I remember from either her website or somewhere else. I agree that it's one of the absolute best sites about Sjogren's from the patient's perspective. I have found many answers to some of my most puzzling symptoms there. It really helped me to normalize what was happening. I think that's a worthy goal for any blog.

    Thanks for the good read!


  2. Thanks Jane
    You always have such helpful comments. This may be a good day to get a few more books of advice. Deep down I could always see myself writing since I'm a reader, but never tried because I am such a "Just the facts, Ma'am" type.

    I can just see the 2 of us sitting at our spinning wheels working away like Rumplestiltskin. We need pointy hats for that and funny little legs to do our dance of rage. Can almost do that any day!!

    Julia is such a helpful and consistent blogger. Well back to my spinning

    1. I think you would embrace Stephen King's writing advice. He's all about telling the truth. In fact, I just finished reading a writing book (I don't know that I should mention the writer), but she broke one of King's cardinal rules about describing someone's wardrobe using words like 'chartreuse'. I love art, but I'm still not sure what colour that is without googling it. Stripping it down to the bare bones is sometimes a great attribute. I skimmed most of the book...

      I think I need to write more. I just have to get out of this everyday is an emergency psychiatric crash cart existence. I don't mean that to sound harsh or uncaring because I care so deeply, but I feel like I'm shutting down most of the time to stop being overwhelmed by the wreckage of my own past. I suppose that means I should write about it.

      In the meantime, chipping away at the blogging feels good, and I feel like my story is starting to bubble to the surface. I have a feeling it will spill out when it's ready, whether I want it to or not!

      Take care,

  3. I'm glad that the blogging seems to be helping you. Maybe you will end up as the author of a very illuminating book that will help many others.
    I plan to keep on blogging. Maybe if I can build the confidence I can try to write a novel - I just fear that I don't have enough words for that. Twitter at 140 characters is very seductive and more my style

  4. Some people have written novels using Twitter. I'm sure I read about it in Twitter's early days. Check it out. :)

  5. Thanks so much for mentioning our paper "Communicating the Experience of Chronic Pain and Illness through Blogging". One of the wonderful outcomes of the paper has been the positive feedback from so many illness bloggers! We hope to continue this area of research in the future.

  6. I look forward to seeing further research by your group. I have read so many illness and health blogs over the years that starting one seemed logical.
    The benefits of blogging came as a surprise to me. It sounds as though you asked the right questions and analyzed well to come to conclusions that resonate like yours do.
    I tweeted the link on Jan 5 and it got some RTs and favourites. bacigalupe found it interesting

  7. Hi good idea to find a method to write about hiding chronic pain because no one believes me because I look so healthy, lol.