I’m back on the radio this week with a new installment of The Art of Recovery on Playtime with Sid & Bill talking all about ways to show compassion to people with chronic illness. Wait, you didn’t know I was on the radio? It’s ok. Sometimes even I forget.
The Art of Recovery is a weekly segment all about living with chronic illness and often has a very artistic slant to it; after all it is neatly tucked into Chicago’s only radio show completely dedicated to the arts. But how did it get there? Why is it there? Isn’t that weird? Who wants to hear about chronic illness on an arts show?
Years ago I connected with the lovely author of Fibromyalgia This: A Diary of A Pain Warrior, Ana Turck. It was her recipe for homemade bone broth that drew me in, but her intelligence, perseverance, and warmth that made me want to be her friend. I knew she was the first person I wanted to interview for my podcast The Flare and she kindly obliged (it was an AMAZING show fyi). A few months later she told me her husband had started a new radio program and was hoping I’d do a segment. The rest, as they say, is history.
Of course I was paralyzed with fear. Doing a podcast is one thing – I can do it, or not do it as often is the case, whenever I choose because it is mine and I alone am responsible for it. Doing a weekly radio segment is an actual responsibility and commitment – something my chronic illness does not like. Low and behold Bill & Ana had already planned for my flareups, which made me actually tear up and love them just that much more, and so began a very interesting journey for me…the chance for me to actually do something good with the hand I’ve been dealt.
I don’t make podcasts or write blog posts in hopes of becoming famous or because I think my life is so important that everyone and their mother needs to hear about it. I don’t share advise because I think I know everything because trust me, I know I don’t. Originally I began putting my voice out there as a form of therapy for myself, but I quickly learned that my stories had power as I began receiving countless messages thanking me for speaking up about my experiences from people who were also suffering but just couldn’t bring themselves to share it with the world.
So many times throughout my life I have wished there would have been something, anything, that I could relate to that could help me get through these very unique and difficult times that only those with chronic illness can understand. When I received enough messages to know that my parents weren’t paying people to say nice things to me (legit concern, people), I realized that I could be that thing, that person, for someone else. I could become what I always needed for someone else who might need the very same thing.
I’m not the best. I’m not for everyone. But I’m here for whoever needs me and I’ve spoken to enough people to know that there are so many of us going through the very same thing that we don’t need to feel like we are going through it alone.
If I reach and help only one person… that is good enough for me. I hope to reach more. I hope that one day not a single person with chronic illness is diagnosed and then just left in the dark to figure it all out for themselves. I hope that one day a person is diagnosed and their doctor says, “Here are some resources to help you,” and that it is a a gorgeous pamphlet filled with lists of radio shows, blogs, support groups (both online and local), Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, medical websites, and anything else you can think of. Whether or not I’m on there is meaningless; I just want it to happen. I’m happy with whatever life decides to give me.
And right now life has given me a weekly spot on a Chicago radio station where I can speak about my experiences with chronic illness and hope it lands in the ears of someone who needs it. And because it is tucked inside an amazing arts show I also get to interview artists that I personally admire and talk to them about how art has helped them heal or overcome struggles in life. That is the second part of why this opportunity is so special to me. I myself am a musician, artist, writer, and dancer and chronic illness took it all away from me. I was so depressed not just from the physical pain but from no longer being able to be myself. So I found ways to get back into all the things I loved and stopped focusing on what I used to be able to do and instead began exploring what I could do both in spite of my illness as well as with my illness.
It’s also important to note that the title of the show does not mean I am cured or that I’m going to tell you how to cure yourself. The “recovery” I speak of on the show is all about reclaiming pieces of myself that illness has stolen away, and healing internally so that I can cause myself as little pain as possible. It’s about coming back into the light after falling into the darkness and imagining new possibilities. And it is absolutely about how art has played a huge part in all of that.
If this sounds like something you’d like to listen to, you can hear The Art of Recovery every Sunday on Playtime with Sid & Bill from 1pm – 3pm Central on AM 1590 WCGO. You can listen live on their Facebook page, on their website, or by using any podcast/radio app on your phone (I use TuneIn Radio).
I hope to see you next week!