A lot has happened with me in the last three years; things that have fundamentally changed my life, my outlook and my priorities. I have become a (single) parent. I have taken voluntary redundancy from a long-term job and am now working independently. And I have been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis (a chronic and often debilitating autoimmune disease).
And for three years I have been a lurker. I have looked online for people with similar experiences, and have taken great comfort and reassurance from what I have found, and I am not alone - apparently '1 in 4 internet users who experienced a recent medical crisis went online to find someone like them: http://pewrsr.ch/mpPHDN' (via @SusannahFox https://twitter.com/#!/SusannahFox/status/72742618563493888). If anything, I am surprised the figure is not higher.
Up until now, I have not been ready to talk much about my own experience. but increasingly I feel it is important to add my voice to the body of experience that is amassing online - particularly in relation to health matters, where there is some vital advocacy work being done. I am also finding that the conversations I am now having with people going through similar things are invaluable in terms of helping me to feel connected and come to terms with my illness. At the very least, I hope that what I have to say will provide that element of human connection and comparison for people going through a similar experience. And it would be even better if we could have a chat about it!