Over the five years of being a sufferer of chronic illness, I have found that it is incredibly easy to feel isolated and alone. There are so few people who genuinely seem to grasp and understand what the chronic illness sufferer is going through.
The ‘Get Well Soon’ messages soon stop because it becomes apparent that chronic illness is not something that one can recover from in the way you’d expect to be back on your feet within a few days or weeks of suffering with the flu or a stomach bug.
Text Club was an idea that came from a blog post I wrote called ‘Where Are You?!’ which highlighted how friendships struggle to last between those suffering and those struggling to grasp the reality of the sufferer’s situation. There are so many chronic illness sufferers out there that perhaps we could join together and become each other’s support system. Social media has been wonderful in this way. I have ‘met’ so many wonderful people in the same position as me who understand that when I say I am ‘okay’ it doesn’t mean what it means to a healthy person.
While social media is wonderful, there are times when we sufferers are too ill to get the laptop out and log onto Facebook or Twitter or check our emails. This is why I have chosen texting. It just seems easier and more personal somehow, and that is what I am aiming for. I may not always be ‘up to’ checking my emails and replying to them, but I do tend to have my mobile phone by my bed all of the time to read any text messages that come through.
I am not currently in a position to open and run a chat room. This has been suggested to me a few times now. Again it feels like more energy is required to open a web page, sign in with an email address, and then remember a password. For many of us too, looking at a screen for an extended period of time can exacerbate our symptoms.
My aim is to have us sending the odd text message to each other. Hopefully friendships will develop and the walls of isolation will begin to crumble. A daily joke or sharing something that was good about our days seems ideal, rather than focusing on the negatives all of the time.
WhatsApp messaging service
As there has been interest in Text Club on an international scale(!!!) a messaging service seems the best way forward to avoid steep mobile phone bills. WhatsApp can be found in your app store if you have a smartphone.
It is my understanding though that you need an internet connection to use it. The app can be found in your app store and is free to download for the first year. After this I believe it is less than £1 to keep the app on your phone.
I will add each new member, with their permission, to a WhatsApp group named In the slow lane together. Alas, it is not my intention for members to be bombarded with messages and notifications.
If you would like to start up another group message for daily chats then I am more than happy to do this, but, like me, you might struggle to follow a conversation with more than one or two people at a time.
Rules and Disclaimer
- There is never any obligation to reply to a message.
- You can opt out at any time and your number will be deleted.
- Your number will be shared with the other members of Text Club, with your permission. With your permission, you will be added to the Text Club – Introductions group on WhatsApp where other members will be able to see your number and contact you. If you would be happier with only me (Anna) having your number then that is fine. Please specify whether you want to share your number with the other members or not.
- Please do not share anyone’s mobile number with anyone else outside of Text Club. The only place to share numbers will be in the Text Club – Introductions group on WhatsApp.
- There is no fee to join Text Club but you will have to pay your mobile phone provider for any messages you send that are not included in your monthly allowance. Please check your allowance. M.E. myself and I cannot cover the cost of this for you.
- We are all entering into this in good faith. Should you share any personal details with other members you do so at your own will.
It’s all a bit trial and error I’m afraid but I hope that receiving a message will give people at least one thing to smile every now and then.