My original intent had been to launch Inspiring Women in April, but when I got the nomination for the woman you’ll read about below, I knew I had to launch sooner. The wonderful woman who wrote the following post is Megan Schartner, and I’m so glad you’ll be able to read about her project below. If you’re interested in nominating someone to be honored as an Inspiring Woman, please go HERE.
Over the past 12 months I have been struggling with several chronic illnesses. During this time I have begun my blog and explored different ways of understanding and assisting others to understand what I am going through.
I have come to learn that most people don’t really understand what it is like to live with these illnesses, they either have misconceptions based on what the media portrays or don’t even know they exist. My goal is to raise awareness of these illnesses and dispel the misconceptions in a way that is easy to understand and encourages people to make their own decisions.
At the moment I’m working on completing the images for a children’s book describing the key symptoms that many invisible illnesses produce using the characters Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang. We are also in the last week of our Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to publish 250 copies of the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book.
To find out more about the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Kickstarter campaign, please visit http://bit.ly/FoggyFrog and watch the video.
We now have less than one week left to raise the rest of the funds to publish Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang. Kickstarter is an all or nothing process, so if we do not reach our goal in the set time we receive none of the funding. Please join us and help us spread the message. A contribution of as little as $1 can let the world know that you want to be heard and understood.
In attempting to get to know Megan and her project, I asked her the following questions:
What made you write your book?
We all deserve to have our stories heard, and Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang is one way of doing this; a unique picture book on invisible illnesses.
I have always preferred to use children’s books as part of a rounded educational program whenever teaching or learning about a topic (I have a background in sustainability and environmental education). When I fell ill I searched for books on invisible illnesses, and on those I’m suffering from in particular (ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome) but I found nothing.
Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang developed as characters for me to describe my symptoms to myself and those around me, and to help me put some distance between myself and my symptoms. I shared a few of my poems and short stories on my blog and many of my readers let me know through comments how much they were helping them to come to terms with their symptoms as well.
Based on these two experiences (not finding any books available and getting encouragement from others) I realised that Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang could be one of the first steps in filling the gap and providing a children’s book on this important, and often overlooked, topic.
How will what you are doing impact the lives of others?
The Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang picture book provides a creative window into the life of someone suffering an invisible illness such as ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, or any of the many other illnesses that produce chronic pain, fatigue, brain fog and sensory sensitivities. People who suffer from these illnesses will benefit from the book as it provides them with a mechanism of putting some distance between themselves and their symptoms. A way of realising they are not their illness but it is something they are living with. It also provides them with the opportunity to share their experiences with those around them, engaging with their wider community and helping others to understand what life can be like with these illnesses.
What are your goals/dreams for your current project?
The picture book is the first step in what I hope will be an educational campaign to raise awareness of invisible illnesses. Once I have completed the book and had time to rest and get other aspects of my life sorted (e.g. attempting a return to work) I hope to develop an accompanying workbook with activities and parent/teacher guide, as well as a separate book (or eBook) with real life stories of living with Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang (I’ve already begun sharing some of these stories through my blog. Together these documents will provide a resource set that can be used in any educational setting from young children through to professionals.
What will you be working on next?
My main goal once the Kickstarter campaign is completed will be to work on getting the book finalised for publishing while also aiming to attempt a return to work part time. Longer term I would like to return to a position in which I was able to deliver community, school and corporate educational programs again both in the sustainability/environment field but also in advocating for those with invisible illnesses.
Recently diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, Megan is currently searching for a lifestyle that reduces the symptoms from these conditions and allows her to live a fulfilling life. Finalist in the Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards Flinders Port Holdings Environment Awards in 2012 and 2013, and nominated again for the 2014 award, she has a strong focus on the provision of high quality, individualised education on an ongoing basis to enhance sustainable living and awareness of invisible illnesses. Through the development and delivery of community, school, and corporate workshops, Megan has encouraged and supported her local and global community to live more sustainably. Her newest projects, the “Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang” campaign and Foggy Frog Creations focus on raising awareness of invisible illnesses and sustainable living through a combination of information delivery and living by example.
To find out more about her and to follow her visit My Chronic Life Journey.