Twitter Chat: The Mental Toll of Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness is a 24/7 ordeal. It never stops. From pain management to endless doctors appointments. We often talk about the physical manifestations of our illness, but don’t always discuss the mental toll living with a chronic illness can take on us.

I was inspired to make this our August Twitter chat topic after an emotional podcast episode with Ashley Boynes-Shuck (aka Arthritis Ashley). Ashley was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in middle school and told me that while looking through old journals from when she was a teenager, her heart broke when she read the words:

“I wish I wasn’t so ugly and I wish I wasn’t in pain.”

Chronic illness can impact our mental health on so many levels, from fostering feelings of self-consciousness to inducing depression and anxiety. It is a very real “side-effect” of living with chronic illness that we at Clara believe should be brought to the forefront.

As a special addition to this chat, advocate Amanda Osowski, will run the Breakthrough Crew Twitter Account during the chat. Amanda is passionate about this issue, having written a piece on it a few months ago:

“As both a patient and a patient advocate, I began to see that I wasn’t the only one. Over time, I have witnessed significant ways in which the chronic illness community is impacted by the presence or absence of mental health care.”

We hope you will join us for this special chat on Thursday August 2 at 12:00 PM PT/3:00 PM ET.


Q1: Have you or a friend’s mental health been impacted by life with chronic illness? How?

Q2: Do you feel the healthcare system directed you to the proper resources to help manage your mental health in relation to your chronic illness?

Q3: What advice would you give/resources would you share with someone in need of mental health resources related to their chronic illness?

Q4: How can we work to improve the current systems (or lack there of) in place for chronic illness and mental health?

Q5: Let’s get creative! What research would you like to see conducted specifically in relation to mental health and chronic illness?

Lilly Stairs is an autoimmune patient and the Head of Patient Advocacy at Clara.