Unlocking the Maze of Health Blogging with Health Unlocked.

Imagine this scenario; you are treading towards a beautiful highway.  The layout is so beautiful that you just want to remain in that highway. As you trudge into it, you discover a lot of other beautiful designs which makes you happy you ventured into this particular high way. However, there comes a time when that euphoria may die because, in as much as you enjoy your trip in this highway, there’s a particular niche which resonates with you that you are yet to find.
Yet, you trudge on. Confident you will find that niche. Still, you feel you are navigating through a maze, wondering when you would eventually come out of it despite all the beauties of this highway and the appealing sights and sounds you see and hear.

This highway is like the blogosphere. It is a beautiful place on the internet. The designs are the types of beautiful blogs which appeal to everyone looking for something of interest. You can find as many fashion and food bloggers for example. Or as many travel and sports bloggers in fact, anything of interest.

However, the health blogosphere is still highly unexploited, especially when it has to do with certain health situations like Sickle Cell Anemia which is considered a taboo subject and many sufferers continue to suffer and die in ignorance borne out of fear and misconceptions.

When I started blogging about my personal journey with sickle cell as a way to debunk myths and misconceptions and hopefully educate others about what sickle cell is and what it is not, I felt an excitement discovering the blogosphere highway. I don’t know about other countries, but I soon discovered to the best of my knowledge, my blog, joy2endure was the only blog on Sickle Cell in the beautiful highway of Cameroon Blogosphere. It was not an easy task making my life an open book, but the misconceptions and ignorance of people which has continued to kill us or make us lead stigmatized and discriminate lifestyles prompted me to start talking.

I couldn’t find any blog by my fellow country man in the midst of all the blogs coming up on sickle cell. It was a lone journey but the determination to debunk myths kept pushing me. And just as the person who found themselves in a maze, I felt like I was in one, not knowing exactly how or when to come out. But the cheers or rather the overwhelming support and feedback I got after a few years pushed me to keep going, grateful that even without any sort of blogger recognition, I was doing something to dispel the myths and misconceptions about sickle cell, changing mindsets and encouraging other warriors to press on and speak out.

Unlocking this maze in health blogging came into being when I stumbled upon a tweet from Sickle Cell Society UK, asking if anyone blogs about sickle cell in late July. I replied with my blog name and was directed to Health Unlocked Health Blogger Awards 2017. I had to read thoroughly to ensure I was qualified for the award. When I read category one as … ‘Someone who blogs about health in general or a particular condition’, I said why not give it a try?

I shared the link with those who have been following my blog and asked if they would nominate me.  Being shortlisted from more than 600 blogs as started in the Health Unlocked Press Release proved one thing: That blogging about my personal experiences with sickle cell as a means to educate and dispel myths about the condition amongst a community which sees sickle cell as a taboo and dreaded disease, was having far more impact than I could ever imagine and for this I was very grateful especially as; it came at a time when I felt like I have been in the maze for too long and wondered if I would ever find the light and way out despite the determination to keep on since I believe it would make just one warrior more to live a life free of stigma and discrimination if just one mindset is changed by each post I write. And this is echoed in these words I found in the press release announcing shortlisted blogs: ‘One of the judges, Dr Matt Jameson Evans, chief medical officer at HealthUnlocked said: “Health Bloggers are the lifeblood of the patient empowerment movement and shortlisting 600 down to just 30 has been a herculean task due to the universally high standard of entries… Congratulations to all those shortlisted – your blogs offer hope, insight and expertise to thousands of others and have become a source of inspiration to the rest of healthcare.”

Put simply, ‘HealthUnlocked is a social network for health. By finding others with similar health backgrounds people can take on day to day health concerns together. And because our communities are set up by leading health organisations, people have access to credible support.

We believe good health information is good for your health. HealthUnlocked has been built to get good support to the people who need it.’ This is a statement on their about page and I would go further to say, they also provide health bloggers with a platform to share their blogging journeys on health especially as health blogging remains one of the least interested field in the blogosphere and worst, if you are blogging about a condition like sickle cell which receives very little exposure due to the misconceptions and taboos around it. You can read more about what they do on their website link shared here.

To  ALL those who kept cheering, you all helped spur me on, confident I would eventually unlock that maze and for being shortlisted; Health Unlocked helped me unlock the maze of health blogging and to see the whole blogging experience in a new light. For this, I will always be grateful and continue doing my best to break the silence and dispel the myths and misconceptions around sickle cell anemia.

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