Why I Won’t Stop Writing About Chronic Illness and Pain

At some point, I want to broaden my writing. I am contemplating starting an additional blog that will function as more of a professional website where I will write more generally and more broadly about various counseling and mental health issues. Awhile back, I considered turning this blog into my professional blog since I already have a number of followers, but as I considered this, I realized how important it is to me that I keep this blog on a specific focus.

It’s not that I don’t want to post anything unrelated to pain and illness here. I will continue to write about the books I’m reading, things I’ve learned, and whatever happens to be on my mind. But, I have decided that for the most part this blog will remain a niche blog on all things pain and illness related.

People have occasionally suggested that my books could reach a broader audience. My book on grieving could apply to a number of issues. My book on work and service could apply to anyone who feels limited in life. If I took this approach, I would likely sell more copies and reach more people. And someday, I may write a book for a more general audience. But, I keep coming back to how important it is to me to tailor my writing to an audience of individuals with chronic pain and illness.

Here’s why.

When your physical reality changes, everything else in life changes with it. You cannot approach life in the same ways you have before. Advice you received in the past may not work anymore. Wonderful Christian books and resources may seem just a little bit “off,” because they talk about things you are physically unable to do or that don’t fit into your life anymore. For these books and resources to make sense and actually help, you have to tailor the advice to your new experience, limitations, and physical reality.

Over time, I have realized that most everything in the world that you read was written to an audience of able-bodied individuals. Individuals with limiting and debilitating physical struggles have to do extra work when they read most material. Oftentimes, the information is great, but an extra step has to be taken to do the work of figuring out what to do with the information when everything in our lives is different than individuals who are healthy.

I want to bridge that step. I want to take away the work that comes with taking material focused on able-bodied individuals and seeking to apply it to someone who has to spend all day in bed.

And that is the main reason I write specifically for individuals with chronic pain, and why I have no intention of stopping. I never want to give the impression that chronic pain and illness are the worst things that can happen to people. They aren’t the worst; they are just different. And they are different in a very specific way that leaves no part of life untouched. It is this difference I am interested in.

It is this difference I like to write about. I want to touch people so specifically that they read what I have written and feel like I have been observing their very lives and thoughts. I want to hit on the issues that arise out of physical limitations so keenly that a clear path is provided forward. No translating. No tailoring. No figuring out which parts can still apply to you when you struggle to walk across the room. Just a straight path forward.

This is my hope. I am sure that not everything I write applies to everyone who reads here, but it is my hope to describe this form of suffering accurately so that I can touch on answers in intimate and specific ways. I want to serve all of you, my readers, well. I hope many of you will follow me over to my other blog once it is launched. But I also hope that all of you can find a safe place here where you feel known and understood by each word on each page. I want this to be a home that feels comfortable for those with physical limitations, because topics about all aspects of life are written about in a way that applies directly to you.

10 Comments

  1. Yes! You are so right. Thank you for writing to those of us who deal with chronic illness and/or pain. I will definitely read your second blog when you launch it, but I am grateful that you will continue to write here too.

    When I first became disabled from a chronic illness, one of the things I struggled with the most was how to be a good wife. So much of what I had read and been taught over the years no longer applied, and I didn’t know what to do to be a good wife within my new limitations. For many years I have thought about writing a blog series or ebook about being an excellent chronically ill wife. One of these days I need to stop thinking about it and just write it! I guess I’ve been hoping someone else would do it first! Haha!

    1. Rachel, you would be the perfect person to write a book like that! I would definitely read it. You are so so right. I think it must also apply to parenting, even though I am not one. I remember sitting in church one mother’s day listening to fathers tell everyone what they loved about their wives, and almost every single thing that was listed was related to what they physically DID around the house. The ways they physically served. It really made me stop and pause for a second because I was wondering how mothers with chronic pain/illness were feeling in that moment.

      1. Esther, YES! I can tell you that the mothers with chronic pain/illness probably went home and had a cry about it. 😉 I know I have before after hearing conversations at church and realising how different things are now, and how much less I can serve in the active ways I used to serve.

    2. Rachel, I’d LOVE it if you wrote a book about that topic!!!!! I struggle with that too. The guilt about not being able to cook and bake and care for our home like I used to do. 🙁

      I’m a writer, myself (a relative newbie in the blogging world)… I haven’t considered writing a book about being an excellent chronically ill wife, but do let me know if you want to consider a collaborative project further down the track (not this year though, as I’ve already committed myself to new projects this year).

      Didn’t you post an article on being a chronically ill wife a couple of months back?? Maybe it was an article from Desiring God or TGC? Can’t remember. But I remember reading it and thinking YES!!! THAT’S IT!!! So validating.

  2. Stick with this niche! I do not have a chronic illness, however your writing has helped me be much more sensitive to what others experience who are dealing with such issues. It’s good to have a niche rather than trying to speak to everyone. Sometimes when you go too broad, you end up not reaching anyone.

  3. I’m so glad you have decided to keep writing for this specific group of people (of which I am one). I read your two books recently and found myself wishing I’d got my hands on them a few years ago, when I was really struggling with grief – but you hadn’t written them yet at that stage!

    I think you’re exactly right: having books that relate specifically to the chronic illness/pain community is just so, so meaningful to those who suffer in isolation, feeling like no-one really “gets” what they have to deal with each day. It’s a special type of struggle (not better or worse, like you said, just different). I’ve been recommending your books with great gushiness and gusto, and do hope you are able to write more for our community as God enables!

  4. “No tailoring. No figuring out which parts can still apply to you” that really encompasses what it felt for me when I found your blog, Esther. It was the first time I didn’t have to skim through 100 pages to find one that sorta applied/spoke to me. And even though I’m not as practicing as you all, I was always able to find some answers in your religious-related posts.
    I’m glad you’ll keep writing for the ones way down on the pain/fatigue scale even as you broaden your other writings. And even on a blog about more general pain topics, you will be able to tell those who need it to come here.;-)

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