4 Journaling Prompts for Chronic Illness Management

Write an honest letter to your body — to its pain, to its fatigue, to the way it has changed over time. Be honest with yourself and to yourself, and challenge yourself to focus on the depth of the feelings, hiding nothing from yourself. Is it rage? Is it sorrow? Is it grief?

Prompt example: Dear Self,

I am finding it so hard to manage ankylosing spondylitis. When you make me feel ____, it makes hard for me to ____. This brings up all sorts of emotions for me: ______.

Write about your diagnosis experience, and what, over time, it has revealed to you. How do you look back on your life pre-and post-diagnosis? How did the diagnosis reveal something about who you are? Did it show your strength, your resilience, your ability to stand up and fight? Did it reveal just how vulnerable you feel — and are? There are no wrong answers. Every diagnosis story is complex and nuanced, pulling all sorts of truths from the depths.

Prompt example:
Before I was diagnosed with AS, I was ______. When I started noticing symptoms, I felt ______. Diagnosis made me feel, think, and rethink certain things, like: ______. Now, living everyday with AS, here's what I've learned from the entire process: ___________. 

Write about how AS has positively benefited your life. There is a lot to say about how being diagnosed with a chronic, degenerative, incurable disease can be hard, sad, lonely, and frustrating — but what happens when we seek a silver lining? It's not about ignoring the reality and the pain, but about making sense of the suffering. It's about finding meaning. Maybe it's that AS has made you more empathic, more patient, or more knowledable and open-minded about disability rights? Maybe it's that you're incredibly good at navigating the complexity of the healthcare system, and that you can lend your experience to others? It isn't fair that we've had to adapt. It's not fair that trauma develops strength — but it does, and it's okay to admit and honor that.

Prompt example:
AS can be isolating, painful, and expensive [fill in what you want to say here], but AS has presented me with the opportunity to learn something about myself, like ____________. It's also taught me how to understand the world and others by:_________. Something that surprised me or revealed itself as positive to me was_______.

Write about who you are completely unrelated to your experience living with chronic illness. It's easy to be consumed by your body when you're living in pain everyday. There is so much that makes you you — so write a letter about that person, as if you're describing yourself to someone else. Sometimes when we write about ourselves in third person we're able to really say everything we want, without feeling like we're bragging or struggling to grasp the words.

Prompt example:
She is a talented writer, someone who has always turned to stories and poetry as a way of changing the world. She thinks in poetry and daydreams and has big feelings. She makes space for others' feelings. She is also a natural leader with a strong work ethic. No matter what she puts her mind to, she achieves it in some way. 

Do you write about your chronic illness in a journaling or creative type of way?  I'd love to hear about your experience with it. 

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.