Welcome to my blog where I'll be sharing all things Chronic Illness

It’s International Men’s Day on the 19th so in honour of celebrating men, this month’s podcast theme is men living with chronic illness.

It is widely thought that men are taken more seriously and are more likely to be believed by the medical profession when it comes to illnesses. Fact or fiction I don’t know, but I do think that men don’t receive as much support as women from the wider community when it comes to health. Particularly mental health.

I question whether it’s because men in general don’t seek help or open up about their thoughts and feelings or whether it’s due to the societal perception that men are strong and don’t need it…

Let’s be real, most of us have grown up with a perception of what men should be like and their role; lifting heavy stuff, doing the DIY, are unemotional, are the main breadwinners etc.

As well as society having those expectations, men often bear the onus themselves, so when they find themselves in a position of not being able to live up to those expectations due to pain or anything else, it can have an immense impact on their self worth.

On speaking to several men who live with chronic illness, I’ve found that many have experienced situations where they have been unable or felt extremely pressured to be a certain way or do certain things, whether it be in employment or everyday life.

One guy in particular stands out in my often foggy memory; a strapping 6”3 marine who -

when he started to develop symptoms of Fibromyalgia and hEDS - found himself feeling vulnerable, frustrated and stressed. Not only due to the pain, but mainly due to the expectations and pressure from his peers and commanding officers. He felt he had to keep up a tough guy act; couldn’t show that he was in pain for fear of losing their respect and even his job.

None of this is to say that men have a harder time than women. I think it’s about putting things into perspective. We all have challenges and expectations thrust upon us, they often just differ depending on circumstances.

On the flip side, society has changed in many ways and some have left behind the old perceptions, expectations and traditions making way for new and different ideas.

On social media I’ve seen many disgruntled posts about men being believed and diagnosed more than women, which is often used as a beating stick for all men. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very unfair and frustrating (I say this as someone who was dismissed and undiagnosed for over 20 years). It’s important to remember that it’s not the fault of men, but the fault of the medical profession and society in general.

As individuals we have a propensity to focus and care about what affects us personally, which is a natural thing to do. However, in the spirit of progression, support and inclusivity in the chronic illness community let us acknowledge the challenges that men face, the collective similarities we have and encourage men to speak up, reach out and embrace support.

So I’ve shared some of my opinions and would be really interested in knowing yours, so feel free to comment.

To get an insight from those living it, I have two fantastic guests on this month’s podcast who share their experiences of living with EDS and M.E.

Part 1 Sunday 14th November with Simon Burnham

Part 2 Sunday 28th November with Nathan Horek

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Now what can I, a 45 year old, know about Young Warrior Partners you may ask yourself...

What can I say that will inspire and empower young chronic warriors that are looking for love but fear they'll never find it because of their illness?

I asked myself the same question…

Guess I’ll have to dig into the archives of my memory to tell you about my experiences in my teens and early twenties and how I hid my conditions from anyone I dated - well, from most people actually. I was embarrassed, had no diagnosis to even be able to explain it and hadn't come to terms with any of it; but it's not something I recommend.

I didn't really realise the toll it took on me mentally, emotionally and physically until later on in life.

I thought it was better to hide that part of myself so that I could avoid rejection and feeling vulnerable; not realising that if someone is for me, they will accept me as I am.

Hiding what I was experiencing was, in a way, denying who I was and adding to the trauma of living with chronic illness.

After many years of working on my mindset, I finally got to a place of self-acceptance, self-worth and self-love which empowered me to be open and honest about my health, realise my value and be more discerning about who I let into my world.

As my thoughts and feelings about myself became more positive and I had more life experience, my view of dating and relationships changed.

I gained more understanding about what is really important in a relationship and identified my priority list; accepting that it's unlikely that a partner will tick every box of requirements.

I also came to the realisation that if someone was unable to accept my situation, it wasn't due to me being unworthy but more about them. That's not to say that if a guy couldn't or didn't want to be with someone in my position it meant they were a bad guy, it just meant they weren’t the guy for me.

I mean, let's face it, chronic illness is hard enough for us to cope with and definitely takes certain characteristics and qualities from both parties to build and maintain a relationship; which can be challenging enough without the added element of chronic illness.

My message to those seeking love is:

  • Identify and be confident in what you can add to a relationship

  • Let your light shine brighter than your illness

  • Do not undervalue yourself

  • Do not lower your standards because of your condition

  • Identify and stand strong in what you need from a partner

Talking to this month's guests was such a delight and further proof that chronic illness and love can happen.

So, whether you're a young one or getting on a bit, I hope you don't give up on love because I truly believe there’s someone out there for every single one of us 💖

Part 1 Sunday 10th October with Daniel Parkes

Part 2 Sunday 24th October with Adam Halladay

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It took 20 years for me to be diagnosed and during that time I didn't have much access to support or information. I basically felt alone.

Symptom management, coping mechanisms, emotional intelligence, maintaining employment or just having people to talk to who understood would probably have made my life easier and helped me to come to terms with and manage my situation quicker.

The growth of social media has made support and awareness so much more accessible over the past few years, which is great for the chronic illness community, especially those who are newly diagnosed.

Something I’ve learned over the years is that support comes in many forms. As well as friends and family, we can also benefit from professional individuals and organisations through talking therapies or courses to help deal with the emotional and psychological impact of living with chronic illness, to practical methods to help us manage daily living or employment.

Being the independent person that I am, I found it difficult to ask for and receive support for years. I thought it made me look weak and I felt vulnerable. Things like therapy and support groups were taboo also, as I grew up thinking they were just for ‘mad’ people or those with addictions.

I couldn’t imagine how they could help me deal with the trauma I’d experienced - not only from chronic illness but other emotional and physical experiences.

Over time I understood that we all have mental health and it includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act, the choices we make, how we handle stress and relate to others.

I’m so happy that I eventually took the plunge and utilised the services available to me. Counselling, coaching and medical information from knowledgeable organisations helped me to come to terms with my conditions, manage my mental health, find happiness and have hope for my future.

The positive impact motivated me to study counselling and coaching; enabling me to help others achieve the same.

There are so many in the community who not only have firsthand experience of living with chronic illness and, like myself, use their experience, skills and knowledge to guide, support and inform others so they don’t have to go through it all alone.

Having access to these resources is such a blessing.

So, as well as using the Chronic Warriors platform to share stories of how those in the community are able to excel and live a fulfilled life while managing chronic illness, I also want to highlight those who provide resources and services to help others.

In this month’s podcast episodes I’m delighted to share the wonderful work being done by two Chronic Warriors.

To hear about their experiences and what they do, tune in here CHRONIC WARRIORS PODCAST | Chronic Warriors (

Part 1 Sunday 5th September with Des Quinn

Part 2 Sunday 19th of September with Rachael Mole

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