If you have a chronic illness, you know just how important it is to help more people understand how common and life-changing long-term sickness is. But you also might not have the energy to hold a fundraiser and organize a rally.
Here are five at-home things you can do today (or any day) that might help others understand you—and your chronic illness community—a little better.
1. Correct misinformation on a chronic illness message board.
Without a doubt, members of the chronic illness community teach each other a lot. When a group of people with a shared experience come together to talk online, many of the things they share will be helpful. But as with any crowdsourcing, some misinformation is also bound to spread. Maybe one person’s experience isn’t true for everyone, or someone spoke incorrectly for a friend or relative. Certainly, it’s easy to assume people will figure it out. But if you see something inaccurate, you can do your best to correct it by chiming in politely and including reputable sources.
2. Comment on a social media post not in a chronic illness space.
Misinformation or misunderstanding also happens outside of chronic illness spaces. For example, if news of a celebrity with chronic illness comes out, people far-removed from the experience might chime in with their own opinions. You can contribute to accuracy by either sharing your own experience or a link to better info. You’re most likely to be heard if you affirm their efforts to learn first then politely explain you’re available to offer personal experience.
3. Search and share local events.
Even if you don’t host your own event, you can help spread the word for awareness-related activities others are hosting. Use Facebook’s local events feature to find something happening near you or near friends. Share the event on your own page and invite friends. Just like that you are raising awareness for chronic illness.
4. Make a positive graphic and share it.
You can create an image to draw more attention to educating people about your illness. Various apps and websites exist to make creating images with text on them as easy as a few clicks.
Use one to teach others about something related to your reality. Ideas:
Sharing your graphic will put your cause on the radar of others—and it might even open a meaningful conversation for you. Also be sure to focus on positive education or awareness, to avoid amplifying possibly harmful negative attitudes.
5. Take whatever platform you already have and be honest.
If the wide variety of chronic illness blogs demonstrates one thing it’s this: people with chronic illness are just that. They are people—unique, individual people with their own normal stuff going on. And also, they are chronically ill.
Some of them are artists while others are writers. Some are interested in fashion, and a few are even nurses or doctors themselves. There are runners, body builders, chefs or musicians.
While without a doubt too many have had their lives put on hold because illness slows them down, they still find a way to be who they are out there in the world.
So use what you already are and already have going and keep telling your story in your way. Your normal life will show those people around you what it is to be chronically ill—and sometimes that’s enough for one day or week or year.
Ready to learn more about raising awareness for chronic illness? Check these out:
Did you enjoy this story? Email us your comments and questions and let's keep the conversation going. We encourage you to engage with us and other readers by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Every person's journey is unique, and every perspective is valuable to us.