When you learn your body’s immune system has decided to attack its own joints — which will likely cause you pain for the rest of your life — it can be difficult to look on the bright side. After receiving a rheumatic disease diagnosis, whether it’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), or another related autoimmune disease, many confess to feeling alone.
These disruptive conditions often force people to make lifestyle changes, which can have a large effect on overall mental health. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that, depending on the type of arthritis, people living with arthritis-related diseases experience depression and anxiety at rates 2 to 10 times greater than the general population. In fact, findings from research published in the journal Rheumatology and Therapy suggest that 30 percent of people living with RA develop depression within just five years of diagnosis.
Feelings of loneliness can take a toll on your mood, energy levels, and personal relationships. Your doctor can help guide treatment and other coping strategies, but for more “in the trenches” advice, turning to others who are blogging about living with arthritis every day can provide crucial moral support.
We’ve also combed through a wide variety of perspectives that generally take a real yet positive approach. Here is a list of our favorites.
1. Chronic Eileen
Over a period of two and a half years in her late twenties, Eileen Davidson was diagnosed with RA, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. She began writing her blog, Chronic Eileen, in June 2017 as a stark response to her triple-power diagnoses. She sees it as a way to battle her struggles with progressing anxiety and depression and handle her role as a mother with a chronic illness (her post on parenting techniques is definitely worth a read).
Through her blog, she opens up about a variety of topics, from whether arthritis will make tattoos hurt or how to calm the “bitch within” when living with your chronic illness.
Though it took some time for her to accept her new lifestyle, she has an improved outlook on life: “If I’m going to be the sick girl,” her bio says, “I might as well kick ass at it.”
2. It’s Just a Bad Day
Julie Cerrone is a health coach and yoga instructor who happens to also be living with a variety of health issues ranging from psoriatic arthritis to digestive issues, depression, anxiety, and more. She’s also had multiple knee surgeries and has gone through stem cell procedures. Hence her blog’s name, It’s Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life, and her mission to remain positive even when things look bleak.
Her posts on It’s Just a Bad Day (for example, her tips on journaling with psoriatic arthritis and her journey to trust her body during her third pregnancy) reflect this kind of mind-set and aim to help others deal with their chronic arthritis.
As a holistic health coach, Julie is also very interested in natural aids, such as essential oils, as well as creating a wonderful support system for yourself while living with a chronic condition.
3. Not Standing Still’s Disease
If you’re looking for someone with a healthy mix of attitude and authority, Grayson Schultz is your blogger. The self-proclaimed “chronic illness collector” was diagnosed with systemic juvenile arthritis, or Still’s disease, as a child. They cover every health topic imaginable on their blog, Not Standing Still’s Disease, from mental health to medical terminology.
Schultz is a sex educator and an advocate for the gender-fluid and trans community, which is discussed at length in a separate blog they pen, Chronic Sex, along with sexuality and sex with a chronic illness.
While the topics they covers across these two blogs aren’t light, Schultz aims to keep posts humorous and positive, even poking fun at having “collected” 16 different health diagnoses, including scoliosis and asthma. They also keep their blog updated with news updates and other happenings of note to the community.
4. From This Point. Forward.
With the blog’s title, Mariah Leach shows us what it truly means to refuse defeat by RA. When she was diagnosed at age 25 while pursuing a dual graduate degree, RA was unwelcome to say the least. But since then, she has undoubtedly made the most of life with a chronic illness, including giving birth to her third child (congratulations!).
In addition to From This Point. Forward, Leach launched Mamas Facing Forward for moms-to-be and moms living with chronic illness. She writes for various health websites and pays special attention to mothers living with RA through her articles on sex, parenting, and ordinary life with RA.
5. Despite Lupus
When Sara Gorman was diagnosed with lupus at age 26, she was determined not to let it interfere with her demanding work schedule in television production and her active social life. After four years of running her body into the ground, she “committed to working with the disease rather than against it.”
Her blog, Despite Lupus, is an ongoing extension of her book of the same name. The blog emphasizes living well with the rheumatic disease, covering everything from learning how to not feel overwhelmed by the disease to battling with insurance companies.
To note, lupus is not a form of arthritis, but it does fall under the autoimmune disease umbrella and share symptoms. Lupus is considered a rheumatic disease, like psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
As Gorman says on her blog: “I had been trying so hard to extricate the disease from my life, I had failed to consider the positive effect of incorporating (and accepting) it as part of life’s master plan. I began to see just how good my life with lupus could be. And so can you.”
6. Rising Above RA
As an athletic teenager, Effie Koliopoulos knew something was amiss when she went to her doctor to treat an issue with her knuckles and was told that it was “nothing, just growing pains.” The following year, she was diagnosed with RA.
In 2017, she created her blog, RARA: Rising Above Rheumatoid Arthritis, where she writes about how RA intersects with all parts of her life, including relationships, nutrition, spirituality, and pain management. Her hope is to create a place where other people experiencing chronic illness can find a community that provides support and inspiration — which is aided by posts featuring interviews and guest contributions to provide other perspectives.
“Rising above for me symbolizes clarity, freedom, and solution,” she writes. “These three aspects are partly what I am striving for on my quest to heal from this illness. Being able to see the light through any darkness and achieve ultimate peace, happiness, and acceptance is a powerful way to not let this disease control me.”
7. Arthritic Chick
Blogging from Down Under, 48-year-old Australian Janine (“Neen”) Monty takes a more medical approach to discussing RA without sacrificing her personal passion.
Her posts on Arthritic Chick include advice on how to pick a rheumatologist, as well as various takes on day-to-day life with arthritis, including “What Does a Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Feel Like?,” and an entire guide on arthritis prescription medication.
As a contributor to CreakyJoints and author of another blog focused on personal wellness, Monty fearlessly attacks RA with the written word while helping others manage their chronic illnesses, too.
8. The Old Lady in My Bones
Julia (“J.G.”) Chayko was diagnosed with RA at the age of 38. A few years later, she started her blog, Old Lady in My Bones, to share her daily experiences of living with the disease.
“Young people are susceptible and can suffer just as much,” she writes. “Knowledge is power. The more you learn about your situation, you can live a fulfilling life despite your disease. Sometimes you must learn to let your old life die and create a new one, like a rebirth.”