Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a copywriter who enjoys reading crime procedural novels, crafting unsuccessfully and simultaneously eating and avoiding eating chocolate. I have a wonderful family and lots of fabulous friends who also enjoy crafting and trying not to eat chocolate for breakfast.

And I have a chronic pain condition. It’s been my frenemy for 25 years and I’m still kind of coming to terms with my limitations. So, if you’re looking for an inspirational story about how positive thinking can overcome crippling pain and fatigue then head on over to Facebook and look up that friend who posts motivational mottoes over photos of women doing yoga on mountaintops.

The following words and phrases will not feature in this blog:

  • struggle
  • suffering
  • mind over matter
  • fish oils

Me and my chronic pain condition in a medium-sized nutshell: pain, fatigue, tests, medication, stress, guilt, working harder, more pain, more guilt, working even harder, realising this is stupid, making a decision to work for myself using my awesome writing skills.

So, what about you? Reading about my boring old pain is pretty dull and kind of egotistical. How do you cope with your life not being exactly how you wanted it? Do you worry that you’re not ever going to inter-rail around Europe? Or publish a million-selling crime procedural series? You know, all of the things people that don’t have chronic conditions absolutely, definitely manage to do?

What I’m trying to say in a very roundabout way is that people who don’t have chronic conditions (generally) don’t inter-rail or conquer Everest, so we’ve got to stop comparing ourselves to others. And we’ve really got to stop reminding ourselves that others have it worse. Of course they do, but that doesn’t diminish how we feel.

Here’s an exercise for you. Make a list of all of the things you’re good at. Now, don’t start whining about how you’re rubbish at everything because I know better than anyone how pain and fatigue can make you feel bloody useless. So, grab a cuppa and some chocolate (which you totally deserve, what with being in pain all of the time) and start writing.

Next, consider the stuff you’re terrible at doing. I don’t wish to influence how you’ll answer this but please try not to make this list longer than the ‘things I’m ace at’ list.

This is my list of things I’m good at, feel free to copy and paste:

  • writing
  • talking
  • problem solving
  • project management
  • bringing people together
  • being creative
  • eating and not eating chocolate

This is my list of stuff I’m rubbish at. Again, copy and paste if you wish:

  • standing
  • sitting at a desk for long periods
  • mornings
  • knitting
  • doing my finances
  • business-speak and jargon

In an ideal world, you would borrow a book from the library (support your local library!) called, ‘Finances and Knitting for Dummies’ and then in a week’s time you’d be an expert at taxes and purl stitches. But that’s not how life works. Self-help books are great at allowing us to focus on the areas of our life we would like to develop. But they’re not the whole answer. There comes a time when we have to accept and embrace our limits. Believe me, a massive weight will be removed from your stooped shoulders. Give your strengths a great big hug and then outsource the things you’re not good at. For me, that meant finally accepting that self-employment was the path I needed to take, and that I couldn’t look at a spreadsheet without crying. In return for some web copy a local accountant offered to support me with my finances (shout out to Angela Black of AB Accountancy Solutions. All hail the skills swap!)

Finally, you’ve got to stop fighting. Stop fighting yourself, stop fighting your condition, and stop fighting the world. No matter what measures we take to address our symptoms we will still have really bad days. Doing yoga, eating lots of fat, not eating lots of fat, meditating, practising mindfulness, exercising, ingesting large amounts of turmeric, wearing orange clothes – I’ve tried them all and they put the time in, but did they cure me? Nah. Did they help? A little. Do you want to know what helps me the most? A hug from my boyfriend. And the realisation that I’ve got to make the most of my lot in life. And it’s a pretty fantastic lot.

We’re all good at stuff so take that list and figure out how you can make a living out of the things you do well. Feel free to comment or get in touch with me if you’ve any questions or if you just want to moan a little.

By the way, I will write that crime procedural series. It will feature a grizzled yet sexy detective with an addiction to Diet Coke and kittens. She will solve all of the crimes and still get home at a reasonable time to apply a face mask and get her full eight hours of sleep.

Email me, Sarah McNeill, at allaboard@shipshapecopywriting.com. Check out my spectacular copywriting packages at www.shipshapecopywriting.com.