Wednesday, 30 March 2016

INSPIRED BY... ANNA JONES


Interviewing people who inspire me has become one of my favourite things. Today I have Anna Jones' answers to share and I think they're fantastic.

Anna writes the blog M.E., Myself and I where she documents her life 'in the slow lane' with invisible, chronic illness. She writes openly and frankly about her experiences, providing reassurance, solidarity and comfort to sufferers all over the world. Her posts are informative and give an amazing insight into life with a horribly misunderstood and underestimated illness. 

I am hugely inspired by Anna's commitment to raise awareness and improve outcomes for M.E sufferers like herself. In May 2013, Anna started 'Blue Sunday', a fund- and awareness-raising tea party. She hosted this in person and online, asking that anyone taking part donated what they would pay for a cup of tea and slice of cake to the M.E. Association. With so many M.E. sufferers unable to leave their beds, Anna provided an amazing accessible alternative to traditional physically demanding fundraising efforts. During the event Anna uploaded photos of what was going on at her tea party at home, while people far and wide uploaded their own from their bedrooms.  'Blue Sunday' was such a success that Anna was quite rightly nominated for a JustGiving Award and a WEGO Health Activist Award. It has also since been adopted by the M.E. Association as an official annual fundraiser.  In 2015, over £5000 was raised for M.E. charities.

Something that has really struck me as amazing about Anna is the way in which she cultivates a sense of community among fellow chronic illness sufferers. Becoming suddenly very poorly can be extremely isolating, but through 'Blue Sunday' and her ongoing social media presence Anna has created a warm- and inclusive- feeling environment. With her friend Cara, she started the hashtag #ChipperTuesday on Instagram. Through this, chronic illness sufferers share photos where they are wearing or doing anything that brings a smile to their face. Sometimes when chronically ill, it is easy to get bogged down in the overwhelming negatives of the situation. I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of the hashtag in drawing out the silver linings. On multiple Tuesdays I have had a look around me to take stock of the little things bringing me joy.

I could gush about Anna all day, but I'll stop here now and share the answers she gave to my interview questions.


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What are you most proud of? 


Where do I start?! I am so proud of my ability to just keep going; to get up each day that I am physically able to; to bounce back from every setback and relapse; to be so far out of my comfort zone and start dating whilst being disabled. But perhaps Blue Sunday is the thing that sticks in my mind the most. This year will be my fourth annual tea party to raise money and awareness during M.E. Awareness week. It’s now an international event, albeit a small one. Last year we raised over £4000 just by eating cake and drinking tea. It feels so wonderful to have achieved something like that while being so ill. 

Who/what do you look to for inspiration? 


My mum has always been my idol and to see how she has dealt with one of her children becoming a chronic illness sufferer has been truly inspiring to many people. I often think that chronic illness is harder for those around the sufferer and my mum, along with my family, has dealt with it admirably. 

When chronic illness feels like a bit of a cloud, what’s your silver lining? 


The other sufferers I have ‘met’ along the way. I meet up with them everyday online and my journey would have been so incredibly bleak without them. It’s their unwavering support and the knowledge that they truly understand what it is like to become chronically ill during what should be the best years of your life that has been invaluable. I would be lost without them. 

What would your advice be to someone who has recently fallen ill? 


Be kind to yourself. This is not your fault. Forget about comparing yourself to your peers or even to other sufferers. This is your journey. Allow yourself the time to be sad and frustrated but learn to celebrate what used to be such everyday tasks. They are now the biggest achievements of all.


PLACES YOU CAN FIND ANNA





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1 comment

  1. Anna is such an amazing person! And that inclusive feeling - it's really so, whenever you read texts or look through the photos or anything else, you feel like you are welcome here. Thank you both!

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