Why I Refuse to Hide the Reality of My Health From My Social Media
As an indie author, I’ve been asked why I don’t keep my health separate from my work. Why I choose to talk about it so openly on Twitter, on my personal Facebook, and on my blog. Here’s the reason:
It’s really that simple. There are thousands of people, actually, millions of people, out there, across the world, who choose not to speak about their pain because it has been drummed into them by society that they shouldn’t. They feel guilty when they tell their loved ones that they struggled to get out of bed on a morning. They feel like admitting that they can’t do the things their friend suggests doing on a weekend, or evening means they are a bad person and failing as a human being. When their child wants to go and play at a certain place and they have to say, “No, not today,” and it sometimes makes them feel like they are the worst parent in the world. I choose to tell them they are not alone. They are not the only one in pain and it is OK to say “no.”
I haven’t yet included my disabilities or my health conditions in my fictional worlds. I choose to focus on my sexuality and gender instead. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t far from my mind that one day I might write a book about a teenager with autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorder. That I might choose to have a mother or an aunt with fibromyalgia, or a kid that so happens to have Irlen syndrome. Whilst I wait for those characters to come to me, I will shout from the rooftops on my social media accounts about the way in which each of my conditions makes my daily life different. Because if it means that one person knows they aren’t alone because of my post, or someone can understand a loved one better, then I’ve done something right.
Recently I’ve seen so many posts about how we, as people who struggle with chronic pain, keep so much bottled in, because we feel like burdens and we are scared of losing those close to us. Well you know what? I won’t do it. If someone asks me how I feel, they need to be prepared for an answer that involves the truth. As an Aspie, I don’t believe in sugar-coating things. I never have. If you were to ask me today, I’d tell you that I have my usual aches and pains but that my left wrist and shoulder in particular are acting up. The wrist feels like it’s in a vice, and if I didn’t know better I would say someone stuck a knife up and under the shoulder blade. But I’d also tell you it’s a better day than yesterday, and that I’m looking forward to next weekend when I get to see loved ones again. My post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression are being kept, mostly at bay, and I’m happily working on various creative projects.
We are, as a society, socially conditioned to apologize for our negative feelings. I’ve found myself doing it, too. An apology for posts where I feel down and low, for example. But I’ve decided I’m stopping that. I won’t apologize for my feelings. I will happily talk them through with you. I am willing to understand why you may think that perhaps you would feel differently given the same circumstances, however, I will not accept being told that my feelings are wrong, and I will never tell you that your feelings are wrong. Feelings, like pain levels, are individual, and therefore, cannot be judged to be right or wrong.
So when you see my posts about my feelings, my pain levels, how my disabilities and illnesses are shifting my day, don’t just scroll by with a roll of the eyes. Remember, that someone, somewhere, may need the brutal honesty of that post to remind them that they are not alone.
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