Here Are My Journal Questions About Chronic Illness and Flare-ups

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by Lisa Marie Basile |

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When I’m in a flare-up, I sometimes journal about what I feel — especially if I’m feeling vulnerable, weak, sad, or frustrated. I do this because writing is second nature to me (duh!), but also because being aware of my feelings makes it easier for me to manage them.

I have spoken with others who have chronic illnesses and also often turn to journaling for clarity and self-care. Heck, I’ve written an entire book about the way writing can empower us.

Sometimes I wonder: I’ve had ankylosing spondylitis for so long, why is it bothering me so much today? Why am I so sad? And when I feel that confusion and emotional uprising, I open my diary and get to writing. It’s not eloquent or particularly good, and it isn’t meant to be. But it usually gets me thinking.

Following are some of the prompts and sub-prompts I use to start writing about chronic illness. Feel free to amend them to reflect your experience or comfort level. You can pick a few that you want to tackle or mix them up every few days. You might want to do them during a flare-up when you need some perspective.

Pro tip: It is helpful to record these on a phone using the voice recorder option or type them on a computer if your hand hurts while you’re writing.

  • What emotions am I feeling today?
  • What is causing these emotions, exactly?
  • Is there something I’m not allowing myself to feel? If so, why?
  • Is there anything I have control over? If so, what? (Can I stretch, watch a good movie, take myself for a walk, or call a friend?)
  • Is there anything I don’t have control over? If so, what is it, and why is it bothering me so much?
  • Is there anything about my physical pain that is tied to emotional trauma or suffering?
  • What can I eat or drink that will help me to feel better?
  • What can I tell people to help them understand where I’m coming from during a flare-up?
  • What do I need help with?
  • Is there something I’m not accepting help with?
  • Is there a better way I can be treating myself during this hard time?
  • Is there something or someone toxic or painful that I’m keeping around me that isn’t good for me, and is it possible to limit my exposure to that person or thing?
  • Is there something that I want to do that can wait for tomorrow?
  • Can I reframe the way I’m feeling in some way? Can I view vulnerability as a strength, for example?
  • What are three things that I can do right now to help provide me with perspective, feel better, or find support?
  • What are three things I can ask for that will help me manage my day a little better?

Do you have tips or prompts that help to get you started journaling or writing about chronic illness? If so, please share in the comments below.


Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.


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