Hi everyone! It’s been a hectic week, and I’ve been recovering from the flu. So Chronic Coffee Chat got pushed into a night owl kind of post. Hey, with enough coffee, you’ll still probably be awake right now! Today we’re having a really cool chat: we’re talking to the founder of Chronic Illness Bloggers. CIB connects chronically ill bloggers with other bloggers and with brands, and is a great resource for any chronically ill blogger looking to grow their blog. Julie puts a ton of hard work into CIB, but still manages to have her own blog! I mean, #bloggergoals, right? Without further ado, let’s meet her.
My name is Julie Ryan, I’m 41 years old. I almost said 40 – still not used to crossing that threshold, nor am I happy about it. My primary diagnoses are Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, Migraines, and hypothyroid. I have the Fibro largely under control with diet (gluten-free for the win). Lately, it’s the endo that is killing me. Migraines alternate between chronic and acute, and I’m not sure which is worse. It seems when they come less often they are much more painful.
Outside of blogging, my primary hobby is poker – online or in person. Whenever I stop to think about my hobbies I think – “I really need more active hobbies.” I do workout some, mostly using Just Dance on the Wii.
I’m all over the place on social media. You can find me at drunkitty2000 on Twitter and Pinterest, and as CountingMySpoons on Facebook and Instagram.
Q: On your blog, after sharing your diagnoses, you say “but that’s not who I am, that’s what I live with.” I love that. It can be hard to separate ourselves from our illnesses. How do you keep your illness from becoming your identity?
A: I try not so spend a lot of time focused on them. A friend once asked me “how do you write about pain without it making you hurt worse?” It’s the same question. I write about pain from an outside perspective as much as possible, not focusing on my pain, or how it makes me feel, but rather how pain can be distracted from, how we can shift our focus to other things. It took a lot of work to reach that point where pain wasn’t my focus, where I was more focused on what I could do despite the pain than on what pain kept me from doing. I always have moments where I fall back into thinking about what I can’t do. But, I try to remember what I can do.
Q: You founded Chronic Illness Bloggers, a group connecting chronically ill Bloggers with each other and with sponsors. I know it was a long process! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired CIB?
A: Being a blogger inspired it. As a blogger, over the years there have been opportunities to connect with companies and share products on my blog, and I wanted to do more of that. There are also innumerable blogging networks out there that act as this connector between bloggers and companies but when I looked at them the products never appealed to me. They weren’t a good fit for me or my blog. I knew there were companies out there that were a good fit and I wanted to expand what I could do with my blog. I also knew from talking to other blogger friends that they felt the same way. I could have easily just reached out to companies for my own purposes, but I felt like if I formed a network that I could help other bloggers, while also helping the companies on a larger scale. I love that I get to connect with so many cool companies with really helpful products and services. I also love that I get to connect with so many more bloggers and help them at the same time. It’s a win-win-win.
Q: You want to help others “lead an inspired life despite chronic illness.” What does living an inspired life mean to you?
A: To me it means looking beyond your illness and being inspired to go forth and do things and help people despite your limitations. We all have limitations, whether we are ill or not. We can focus on those limitations and let them hold us back, or we can focus beyond them and move forward. I’d rather keep moving forward.
Q: What is the main message you hope readers take away from your blog?
A: I really hope that readers of my blog come away more informed and also just inspired to keep going. That they feel inspired that there is more out there for them and that the pain, fatigue, and depression is not the end-all-be-all. We are all here for a reason, we must work towards that, we must help others, we must keep learning. As long as we are here, we aren’t done yet.
Julie is quite an inspiration to us other chronically ill bloggers! Thanks for joining us for Chronic Coffee Chat, Julie!
As always, check out the #chroniccoffeechat hashtags on Instagram and Twitter for more info, bonus content, and to get in touch with me about being featured in a future post. Thanks for reading, and see you next Friday!