Two years ago I created a site designed to host anonymous secrets from the diabetes community. The goal was to provide a safe place for people to share what they were feeling and experiencing without fear of stigma, shame, or judgement. But battling stigma and judgement is not unique to the diabetes experience, and that is why my expansion of the My Disease Secret platform brings us here with the beginning of My Arthritis Secret.
I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with a number of advocates from the arthritis community. And while our experiences may be unique, it is not without some curious similarities. The stigma of a disease typically portrayed a certain way by the media presents stereotypes that you have to actively choose to battle each and every day. This misperception of what the medication required to manage our respective diseases means to us personally, and how these medications are interpreted by the unknowing public can incur a range of judgement and misinformed assumptions.
I know there is a strong arthritis community online. My hope is that this site offers a chance for a wider audience to truly understand what living with arthritis is like. If you’re willing to share, I want others to see what it takes to manage the pain, surgeries, relationships, medications, work, and often compounding diagnoses, along with the rest of your lives.
So here is My Arthritis Secret. A safe place to share your arthritis secrets. No judgement. No shame. No stigma. Merely catharsis through honesty.
I’ve partnered with Britt Johnson (@HurtBlogger) and Alan Brewington (@abrewi3010) to help me get this right. If you’re reading this, then you probably know the Arthritis Foundation identifies 60 different types of arthritis, and over 100 specific diagnosis within those categories. (I had to look that one up, and was quite surprised at the final tally.) That diversity provides a great challenge for a site simply called My Arthritis Secret, but I’m hoping to seize this opportunity to unify the arthritis community.
I understand that there may be overlap between some of the existing My Disease Secret sites and what My Arthritis Secret hopes to accomplish. I’m not hiding any of my intentions, so I’ll lay everything out briefly here:
My Arthritis Secret is a thing.
My Lupus Secret is a thing.
My IBD Secret will soon be a thing.
My Chronic Pain Secret is a thing.
Based on my own impressions and the insight from advocates within each of these communities, the sites I have created and will create, are unique enough to justify their existence and active enough to merit their own site. This isn’t a competition to see which community is most active, but I have to manage my own resources to best serve each community appropriately. This is my plan right now. If you have any questions or concerns about how I am running all of this, I welcome your feedback: myarthritissecret at gmail dot com.
If you feel like sharing a secret about how arthritis impacts your life, be it your own diagnosis or that of a loved one, this submission form is for you.
With the help of Britt and Alan, we’ve started curating a list of resources specific for the arthritis community. By no means is it absolute, but it’s a start. If you have any suggestions to make to the resources page, please let me know: myarthritissecret at gmail dot com.
At the end of the day, I believe in the power of “me too”. Seeing the responses My Diabetes Secret, My Chronic Pain Secret, and My Mental Health Secret have received tell me I’m on the right track. As each secret is shared, the likes and reblogs remind each of us that we aren’t alone in these struggles, emotions, and experiences. My hope is that My Arthritis Secret finds a similar home within the broader arthritis community.
I hope this works.