I am delighted to invite author Rachel Hill to visit my blog and celebrate the release of her latest book, You, Me and Hypothyroidism, released 20th September. We chat about writing non-fiction, having a dedicated writing space, and her love of travelling. You’ll also find Rachel on my Real Women, Real Lives feature over on my personal development blog, Motivate Me.
Over to Rachel…
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
For a while, a dancer. Then a writer. Then a primary school teacher. And a few other things before I eventually went down the writing route!
List three words to describe yourself.
Organised, passionate, determined.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Emma Watson perhaps?
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. I’d love to be able to jump to a beach whenever I liked!
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I wrote a lot as a child, mainly short stories, and played with the concept of putting together books and magazines. I loved the creativity and expression involved. I picked GCSE’s and A-Levels which also required a lot of essay writing, something I enjoyed and felt naturally good at. I eventually got into writing more seriously following my diagnosis of autoimmune hypothyroidism at age twenty-one, in 2015.
I started blogging about my personal journey as someone newly diagnosed with a chronic illness and it took off straight away. I went from a thyroid patient to a thyroid patient advocate who was passionate about blogging, writing and all things thyroid advocacy.
After a few years of writing solely for websites, I finally began book writing and released my first book ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate’ in 2018. Following the success of this, I am releasing my next book ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism’ this year, 2019. Both books aim to raise awareness of thyroid disease and equip the readers with the information they can use to live well and thrive despite being affected by it.
When I’m not writing or working on thyroid advocacy work at all, I love travelling, exploring new food and recipes (foodie alert!), reading a really wide range of books, organising social events and themed parties (any excuse to go all out on the decorations and costumes) and salsa dancing. You’ll also catch me dying my hair different colours every now and then.
Where does your inspiration come from for your books?
My first book, ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate’, was the book I wish I had upon diagnosis of autoimmune hypothyroidism. It contains all the information I wish I knew sooner and puts it into an easy-to-digest format so that others with thyroid symptoms (such as fatigue and brain fog) can make use of the material too. So the inspiration came from my own experiences and frustrations, but also from my followers, as they asked me to consolidate a lot of my articles and blog posts in to a book.
My latest book, ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism’, branched off from the first book. ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate’ was written for thyroid patients but included a chapter for their friends and family, whereas this second book is entirely for the friends, family, spouses etc. of thyroid patients. The aim being to equip those around us with the knowledge they need to not only best support the thyroid patient in their life, but also feel supported themselves. I have written this second book with Adam, my husband and partner of ten years. He provides some insights into his experience and thoughts as someone who supports a thyroid patient, as the co-author.
A lot of the content for both books has come from my personal experiences, in terms of what has been helpful to me and what I know other people affected by thyroid disease need as well. But I also listen to the thyroid patient community around me, regarding what they say they need too. In terms of my latest book, there really is no other book that is written for such a specific audience/reader. It’s the first resource for those supporting a thyroid patient.
Do you have a dedicated writing space?
Yes, I’m lucky to have a dedicated home office which is a bit of a sanctuary. It’s a small, extra bedroom with my desk in, which overlooks the beautiful scenery we’re lucky to live near to.
I like to keep my workspace tidy so that it’s a calm and non-distracting place. But the inspiration for writing often comes to me when I’m walking too, so I also like to make notes or voice memos on my phone for writing up later.
Can you give us a brief excerpt from your latest novel?
Yes! Taken from Chapter 3: Getting the Most Out of Medical Appointments. You, Me and Hypothyroidism.
Help Them Plan
If your loved one has also been reading, doing research and collecting information regarding thyroid treatment and management – for example regarding other thyroid medication options, further testing they may benefit from or suspected vitamin deficiencies, help them prepare any supporting materials by printing out information on studies and research, making notes and highlighting important parts and take it along.
It may also be helpful for you to take an active part in researching and compiling information too. Thyroid fatigue and brain fog can make it difficult to concentrate, retain and process information. Please see a list of websites and literature for recommended reading at the back of this book.
As loved ones, we must try to understand how scary it can be for the thyroid patients in our lives to go in to a doctor and open up about their problems, all the while knowing that you may not even be believed. I’ve seen just how tiring it has been on Rachel, both before, during and after appointments. As someone who has only ever visited the doctor for more ‘routine’ appointments I never had an instance where I felt like a doctor might not believe me. In fact, I found it hard for this to ever be the case. When Rachel mentioned after an appointment I didn’t attend with her that she felt ignored, my initial reaction was one to defend the medical professional. But having been through that process with her, it can be a common occurrence, one that as loved ones we must accept and support.
If they are anxious before going to an appointment, the best thing you can do is try to be as understanding as possible. Can you help to prepare them? Or plan for what you might do afterwards? Could you plan to spend some time after an appointment on something that is totally different and unrelated to their health?
Can you help them to practise what they want to say to the doctor beforehand, in order to help them feel more confident? Whilst in the doctor’s office, would it help if you prompted them so they don’t forget to mention all points? This can help to ensure these opportunities aren’t lost.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m already saving ideas for future books and I have just launched my online thyroid course website for fellow thyroid patients, too. So I’m keeping myself very busy!
You can find the courses at thoughtfulthyroid.com, with just the one available for now (focused on thyroid fatigue), but we have hopes to develop many more for the future, looking at various other thyroid symptoms.
I’m always looking at new and impactful ways to work with other thyroid advocates and those in the thyroid community, so I’m sure you’ll see some new collaborations too. A few podcast features will be released soon, and I have a lot of exciting new blog posts coming to my website (I publish a new post every Tuesday).
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate on Amazon https://amzn.to/2SxGcn8
You, Me and Hypothyroidism released on Amazon 20th September