Sometimes a blog or a blogger pops up online and you can’t get their words out of your head. Maybe it’s the personality. Maybe it’s the well-crafted writing. Maybe it’s that the blog speaks to you and tells their story like it’s yours. We have found one such blogger we love: ChronicBabe.
Starting at the landing page, this blog immediately pulls the reader in and makes them feel welcome. “Editrix” Jenni Prokopy was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1997 when she was just 25. Shortly after that, the long list of chronic illness diagnoses began: asthma, anxiety, Raynaud’s phenomenon, GERD, and thyroid disease. She started ChronicBabe in 2005 to offer support and resources to others suffering from any kind of chronic illness, as well as to tell her story.
Jenni has a personal comprehensive treatment plan for her chronic illness that includes things like biofeedback, physical therapy, medication, diet, exercise, meditation, and “a kickass support system.” Because she realizes that not everyone has the same positive support, her blog tries hard to offer that to its readers. The mission?
“To help you have an amazing life in spite of illness. I’ll help you gain new confidence, boost your career, nurture lifelong friendships, have great sex, save more money, and in general, be more fabulous.”
Jenni’s readers are effusive in their praise for everything Jenni’s blog has done for them. Says Toni Bernhard, author and avid reader:
“ChronicBabe has been a port in the storm for me ever since I became chronically ill. It opens a whole new world to those of us who suffer every day from chronic pain and illness.”
Doctors like Kevin Pho, MD value how ChronicBabe gives them insight into what their patients are feeling:
“Many physicians don’t know what it’s like to experience the diseases that they treat in the exam room. It’s tremendously instructive reading from the perspective of a patient, and sites like ChronicBabe.com provide an important window for providers to appreciate the journey patients take in our health system.”
So how does she do it?
ChronicBabe offers a forum for questions and support
Billed as “an online support for young women with chronic illness,” ChronicBabe’s Ning is a highly active forum with nearly 4,000 members. The chats are moderated, which means that participants can feel safe knowing that there are rules. It is hard enough being young and feeling vulnerable without worrying about cruelty online. Forum users can post blogs, start discussions, ask questions, or chat privately. There is even space to upload vlogs (video blogs) and post pictures.
ChronicBabe is on Facebook
ChronicBabe’s Facebook page has just over 3,700 fans and features blog posts, videos, and calls for participants (as in a recent post where she looked for input from chronic pain caregivers). Unlike some Facebook pages in the chronic pain community, Jenni’s page is open (not a private group), and she allows people to post. These two features create a community of support for those who may not have one in their non-digital lives.
ChronicBabe is (almost) in print
Jenni is working on her book, ChronicBabe 101: Craft an Incredible Life Despite Illness, largely funded by a successful Kickstarter that raised almost $23,000. Following the mission of the blog, this is a “Comprehensive guidebook for women who want to craft incredible lives in spite of illness, created by a fellow sick chick.”
ChronicBabe is on Pinterest
One of our favorite ways to gather resources and connect is Pinterest, and ChronicBabe does a great job with her Pinterest board. Jenni has curated over 1,500 pins on 47 boards that range from body-positive messages to gluten-free cooking to health and wellness to feisty redheads (of which she is one!). Looking at this collection of pins, it’s easy to see that they were gathered by someone with a zest for living, a flair for creativity and fashion, and an easy way of relating to the world that is definitely something to aim for. Jenni is not wallowing on her Pinterest board. She is making plans, dreaming dreams, and encouraging others who have chronic conditions to do the same.
Sensing a trend? Jenni is a social media maven, using many different platforms to not only share the mission of her blog but to also make a living. While some may find working with this many different accounts intimidating, Jenni realizes that people may be comfortable in different mediums, so she offers choices in the way she puts her message out there. There are differences on each account, based on their format. Instagram is picture-heavy and features images of the garden more than her Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. We like the diversity of Jenni’s social media utilization because it holds the possibility of reaching more people.
ChronicBabe’s community wouldn’t be what it is without the people who join it. For full access to the discussion forums, Jenni offers a free, easy sign-up that you can customize to receive email notifications when new content is posted or when there are new responses in a discussion you are following. You can also simply “Be a Babe” and sign up for her email newsletter, or send her an email or a comment. Finally, if you are looking for courses, crafts, and gear, ChronicBabe has a “shop” area on the site that offers all of these things, including a free section for those on a budget.
We love ChronicBabe for her humor, her obvious love of life, and her desire to help others in the chronic pain community to find resources and community. Who are some of the bloggers you love?
Image courtesy of Elizabeth McQuern Photography