Lightning rod


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Considering health activism through blogging?

Maybe you already have a personal blog with a handful of followers. Or maybe you’ve been at this for awhile and your website is finally taking off. You can finally start making some money from ads or affiliate programs to contribute to the cause. Maybe you’ve been offered a paid position as a guest blogger.


You dream of making a difference. It’s not about you; it’s about the cause. I know this because at our core, we’re all a bunch of bleeding heart social justice fighters. Most of us are either patients or caregivers. We live in the trenches, facing the realities of our given health conditions. We face ridicule, criticism, and discrimination from healthy people who always have better ideas on how to restore our health. We’re also uniquely  familiar with how broken our healthcare systems are because we are its victims. You think it’s unfair and you want to do something about it.

Be careful what you wish for.

Are you prepared to become a lightning rod for your cause?

Lightning BoltWe’d all like to be happy little bloggers. We don’t need much thanks, just some feedback that our efforts are helping put a dent in the cause. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen as often as you’d like. Whether you are dealing with some of your own who are having a bad day or nasty little internet trolls, you will face opposition, criticism, insults, and more. A lot of it will get very personal.  The people who appreciate you the most are the least likely to let you know you’re doing a good job. Most days you will wonder if anyone ever visits your blog or reads beyond the headline on Twitter.

Can you learn to live above the fray?

It’s going to hurt. Many times the pain of personal attacks can hurt as much as the pain your condition causes. If you are going to make a difference, you will draw the attention of people who will spread rumors, call you names, and poke fun of your health condition. No matter how long you do this work, there will always be someone to accuse you of “not really wanting to get better” or “being too invested in your illness” or “sabotaging yourself”…and the list could go on forever. Health activist blogging is no place for the soft-hearted. You’d better grow a thick skin fast or get out of the game.

Can you take the hits?

I got hit hard this week. Some of it was justified. A lot of it was mean-spirited trollish behavior. It took me by surprise and made my head spin for a few hours. After a brief cry, my husband gave me a pep talk and a firm, but loving, push back into the fire. I was overly tired from fixing security holes on this site when I stumbled across the feedback from a feature I wrote for another online magazine. Had this particular article not just received a ringing endorsement from one of headache medicine’s leading experts, the whole affair might have felt a lot worse.

Enlist support

Something else kept me from drowning my sorrows in a gallon of ice cream and a chick-flick marathon. I have an amazing support system of fellow writers and advocates. The minute I felt vulnerable, I reached out. That gave me the willpower to avoid reading any more comments. Instead, my inbox was full of encouragement. You cannot do this work alone, no matter how strong you think you are. Otherwise you become the solitary punching bag for every critic and troll who want pick on your cause for the day.

Resist the urge to defend yourself.

trollsIt never ceases to amaze me how many of my readers actually call out the trolls and put them in their place. I don’t need to respond because my readers often shut down the troll without my help. They’re smart enough to tell the difference between honest dissent and ugliness. It’s rarely a good idea to respond to negative comments online. Occasionally it may be appropriate to contact someone privately in response to their comments, good or bad. However, I am learning to adopt a strict, “Don’t feed the trolls” policy.  When it comes to online commenting, I’ve just seen things get out of hand too quickly and easily. Let your work speak for itself. You’ll get more respect from legitimate readers by ignoring the garbage.

Accept the trolls as a good sign.

If you’ve reached enough people that you are attracting trolls, then you have a pretty big reach! Take it as a sign that you are making a positive impact for your cause. Anyone who ever made a difference in this world had a lot of critics. Take heart that you are in good company.

Now get blogging!

2 thoughts on “Lightning rod

  1. Wonderful article I think I’ll be writing my own piece on this subject adding situations to watch out for and either avoid or fight if you have the fortitude mentally and physically. I thoroughly enjoy your blog though as a silent browser usually not a commenter. Can we perhaps get in touch on twitter and exchange guest blogs? We all make a difference but when we join forces to help each others audiences experience a new point of view or allow a fresh writer a chance it revitalizes the followers showing them you always offer new things.

    I must say your blog is well organized and I like it perhaps once my company has some revenue under it’s belt I’ll hire you for some article as a journalist if you’d be willing. Your best articles would be featured in front of my already growing audience of 11,000 or so across all my networks and blog members/newsletter subscribers. I’d love to discuss all these opportunities further Tammy pain free wishes and only the best of health for your entire family.

  2. Sorry Tammy I’ve been gravely ill I will fill out the contact form for both you and Eidt because we need to be a more united community. As migraineur we’ve splintered into tiny groups so we look more like a rare disease patient than 37 million people all uniting to take care of this often misdiagnosed and stigmatized illness. I look forward to working with you on this and I hope we can unite our community I think I may have some extra ideas as well I’ll keep that for our private conversation.

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