I’ve been on hiatus from 43T for quite a while. Nothing bad happened: I just got somewhat overwhelmed, and what online energy I had went into some Facebook support groups as well as local face-to-face volunteering.
I definitely observed Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I posted about it before, during, and after to my entire group of FB friends, who include former colleagues and clients, other members of associations in which I’m active, people I know only online (a few crossovers from my more active 43T days, plus folks I cyber-met via the above-mentioned FB support groups, online Scrabble, etc.), and the usual coterie of close offline friends, neighbours, and people from high school with whom I’ve reconnected.
I also posted about it within several of those FB support groups. I actively follow and participate in about half a dozen of these. Some are open to anyone affected by chronic illness in general, and others are populated by folks with the same condition and/or surgery that I have had (for me, Crohn’s – an inflammatory bowel disease – for 30-odd years, and, since late 2007, a permament ileostomy).
In some ways, on my FB feed, every week is Invisible Illness Awareness Week. It’s not the only thing I post about by a long shot: my FB friends get a mix of grammar jokes, funny sayings, articles about things I know will interest a significant subgroup of them, and so on. I don’t even post every day about either chronic illness generally or the conditions I have. (I may be posting about these topics multiple times a day, but not on my main News Feed/Timeline—just in the largely Closed support groups where those are the main topics of discussion.) Nevertheless, on my main feed, I doubt that a week will go by without at least a passing mention that makes clear my involvement with and passion for this topic: for instance, a status line may describe whatever volunteering I’m doing that week (and virtually all of what I do is for health-related causes or organizations like giving a presentation on behalf of the Canadian Diabetes Association, working at the information desk at a local hospital that specializes in complex chronic care, or serving as a peer leader for a workshop on learning to live well with chronic illness or chronic pain).
I’m still keeping my Facebook and 43T accounts separate. That may merely be a holdover from before I retired, when I didn’t necessarily want to be completely open about my health issues (or some of the other things I’ve worked on or discussed on 43T) with everyone in my business circles. (This was before it was possible to separate Facebook friends into different lists, and then post certain items only to, say, Personal Friends or People I Know from Ostomy Toronto.)
Now I’m much more of an open book; there seems no further need to hide at least my health status from anyone. Still, I’m not yet sure whether I want to link the two accounts. My 43T identity is not widely known among my non-43T friends, even the ones I’m closest to. And for now, I think I’ll keep it that way. There’d be no going back if I linked the two and then realized that that was ill-advised. I may not have been active on 43T for a while, but I don’t want to have to delete my account. There’s a significant four- or five-year history here for me, chronicling lots of events and changes that took place after I had the ileostomy surgery. And I might yet decide that Facebook isn’t serving me in all the ways that the 43T community did—at which point I’d want the option to come back for sure.
Hello to whoever may still be among my subscribers. And thank you/congratulations/felicitations to those who started and/or joined this goal—those I know (Poetry Man, Sherlock, gemmword2, HippieChick2, Ru) and those I don’t (yet) know.