Your #ChronicLife with Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Lene Andersen, MSW Patient Advocate

When you have a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your life isn’t just about the illness and all the medical appointments. It’s about the ‘living with’ part of it all. But for those of us who share our bodies with a chronic illness, the reality is that we share everything else with a chronic illness, as well. And that can present some real challenges.

This year, we want to help you overcome those challenges and build a better life with chronic illness. To that end, the theme that will guide the content we bring you this year is Your #ChronicLife with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What is #ChronicLife?

Less than a year ago, the #ChronicLife movement took off on social media.

Started by our very own Britt J. Johnson, #ChronicLife is “a positive movement of openly sharing the reality of living with a chronic disease or condition.” Whether it is taking yet another medication, the pain in your hands as they grip the steering wheel on your way to work, or having to leave a store because the scented products are triggering a migraine, it is all #ChronicLife.

By sharing the way our chronic illness affects our lives, we raise awareness about the true impact of rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, back pain, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and many other conditions. But it’s not just an educational movement, it is also something just for you. It has become an important part of the community because being honest about our lives in their entirety sets us free. Free to be exactly who we are, including the way our chronic illnesses shape our lives.

Our disease, whatever it is, is an integral part of our lives. It colors what we do, who we are, and who we become. The challenges with which we cope because of the chronic illness are hard, yet often give us something in return. Resilience, a warped sense of humor, friendships with others who are chronically ill. All of these are your #ChronicLife, too.

A guiding theme

Every year, HealthCentral’s RA site chooses an overarching theme that guides the topics of the articles we publish. Two years ago, we covered the basics of RA, and 2015 was all about adapting to the disease. This year, we’ll continue to bring you informative posts about these topics when topical, but much of our focus will be on the next part of the journey with this disease: your #ChronicLife with RA.

Throughout the next 12 months, we will be shining a light on all the other aspects of life that are affected by your chronic illness. We’ll be talking about love, finances, work, housing, and many other topics. Our team of writers will share resources and suggestions that will contribute to helping you create a better life with chronic illness.

Hand-in-hand with our articles will be #ChronicLifeClub, which brings together the chronic illness community in conversation about a particular topic. Every month, we choose a theme, and encourage members of the community to share images on social media that reflect their chronic life in the context of that topic.

In January, we’re talking about Resolutions. Share your dreams, your progress, your challenges, and how you plan to keep going on our Facebook page and other social media. Don’t forget the hashtag #ChronicLifeClub!

Your #ChronicLife with RA

We are proud to have served the rheumatoid arthritis community for many years, and are committed to continuing to do so. We will continue to bring you informative timely, and relevant articles on subjects connected to living with RA.

At the same time, we want to be as inclusive as possible and are expanding many of our articles to cover the more general category of chronic illness. We hope that people with many different types of chronic illness will find useful information on our site, and join in our discussions. Everyone is welcome here.

We invite you to tell us which topics of your chronic life you’d like us to cover in the coming year. If you have any particular questions you’d like addressed in our future articles, please leave a comment on this post or connect with us on the RAHealthCentral Facebook page. We also look forward to you sharing stories of your #ChronicLife with us.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

Lene  Andersen, MSW
Meet Our Writer
Lene Andersen, MSW

Lene Andersen is an author, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. Lene (pronounced Lena) has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since she was four years old and uses her experience to help others with chronic illness. She has written several books, including Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain, as well as the award-winning blog, The Seated View. Lene serves on HealthCentral's Health Advocates Advisory Board, and is a Social Ambassador for the RAHealthCentral on Facebook page, She is also one of HealthCentral's Live Bold, Live Now heroes — watch her incredible journey of living with RA.