The problem with chronic illness and social media

It’s hard to share about chronic illness on social media. Here are three reasons why.

Sharing about chronic illness on social media

It’s difficult. Particularly when you are only watching someone else’s battle.

That I think this might come as a surprise, due to the slight fact that this website is full of articles! Not to mention, I have associated facebook pages, groups, pinterest, google plus and twitter accounts! That’s a lot of social media.

Yet each time I share about the place of chronic illness in my life (as someone who has sick family members, but is not ill myself), I struggle. It’s a hard topic to think and talk about – let alone share online with everyone and anyone!

Of course, I share because I want to. It is an immeasurable blessing, and in fact is so much part of who I am, I feel I can’t not share… but I still find it a battle. And so I’m posting this here, and on Facebook and twitter and pinterest and all of the other social media places, in the hope that perhaps other people find it scary too.

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Thinking about chronic illness: Why I find it hard to think about sickness and Watching

Thinking about chronic illness is hard

It is hard to think about chronic illness. The reality is that while chronic illness can be difficult to talk about – it can also be difficult to even think about. This post is a follow-on from the previous post: “Why I find it hard to talk about Watching”.

Let me clarify: I don’t find thinking about chronic illness a chore or a burden. It is so much part of me and my reality that not to think about it would be a denial of the truth! I actually really enjoy pondering this part of my life because I want to understand how it fits into God’s plan for our world and how I can love and support my struggling friends.

Perhaps ‘hard’ is the wrong word. I don’t find thinking about Watching hard, but I think it can be… dangerous.

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Talking about chronic illness: Why I find it hard to talk about Sickness and Watching

I find it hard to talk about sickness when I’m not the one who is sick. This might come as a surprise. After all, I blog about Watching. I’ve written thousands of words on the topic, and spent hundreds of hours thinking about it.

But I still find it hard.

Talking about sickness is hard because words diminish

I really struggle with this. Every time I open a word document or begin a conversation with someone about a heart issue, I get a familiar ‘tugging’ feeling. It’s sort of like regret.

Because when words express our thoughts and feelings they inevitably reduce them. I love words, but words are not everything. Words only scrape the surface of the huge beast that being is.

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How to love our Wider Watchers

It’s easy, for us Watchers, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers. To overlook the lives of those Wider Watchers – our friends, our relations, our own other loved ones, who watch us as we Watch our suffering Loved Ones.

This is the final post is a short series about Wider Watchers. In Who are the Wider Watchers? We thought about how we are all actually Wider Watchers to some extent, and Wider Watchers (unlike Watchers) have the choice to Watch and to love, and this makes their sacrifice even more beautiful. In When our Wider Watchers hurt us? We pondered what it looks like to respond when Wider Watchers hurt us or our Loved One through their words or actions. In this post, we will discuss what it means to love our Wider Watchers, how to care for those around us who are not Watching as we are.

Why is this important?

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When our Wider Watchers hurt us

Wider Watchers do not have their day to day lives affected by our Loved One’s pain. They have the distance and freedom that at times we envy. They have the choice to involve themselves, and the ability to be a huge blessing and support to us and our Loved One.

But at times they get it wrong.

Wider Watchers hurt us

I think it’s important to acknowledge that either directly or inadvertently, Wider Watchers can make life harder rather than easier.

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Who are our ‘Wider Watchers’?

What about all the rest?

We’ve talked about Loved Ones, those of us who suffer day in and day out from either physical or mental illness. We’ve talked about Watchers, us whose lives are directly affected by their illness, and are called to love them, yet are unable to help them.

But what about those who fit into neither category? What about those who do not battle chronic pain, yet do not do life closely with those who do?

Do we need to address them?

Do they have a place on this blog?

Is their interaction with sickness and pain even slightly comparable to our own?

What if… they are us?

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Watching saves us

Last weeks post was about the dangers of Watching… and yet, Watching also has many saving graces. For you see,

Watching is like an electric fence.

We know Watching – like every situation – has its own peculiar dangers. As Watchers we may be more inclined towards bitterness, pride or self-entitlement. Like a fence, Watching keeps these temptations in close proximity.

And yet just as Watching keeps these trials in, it also keeps other trials out. Beyond our fence are temptations which we cannot as easily fall into. Of course there are holes in our fence, and we can climb it, but just like every circumstance in life, Watching narrows our experience. We are never tempted by every evil at once.

The difference with Watching of course is that often the temptations we face are ones which may not plague a non-Watcher. Similarly, the dangers we find less desirable are ones which others easily fall into.


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