Hello friends! Welcome to The Rest Room: a place to explore what it means to live (and live well) with chronic illness.

Here you’ll find slow, in-depth content about chronic illness that goes beyond an Instagram caption. Whether it’s the Rest Room podcast or my weekly essays, The Rest Room is for people living with chronic illness, the people who work with them, and the people who love them.

Why “The Rest Room”?

A diagnosis is supposed to open up doors to treatment and support, but for so many people that simply isn’t the case. Through my work, I’ve had access to some amazing experts in the field and have worked with and advised companies and medical professionals around the world on how to translate medical advice to patients.

There’s so much simple advice that most patients do not receive that could help them better understand their health, their body, and how to safely and sustainably find ways of living with often challenging and debilitating conditions. I didn’t really get it when I needed it, and when I finally did, it changed my life.

That’s why I love working with experts to create resources on things like pacing and brain fog, as well as wider explorations of issues relating to the care and treatment of chronic illnesses.

Things like why we need to rethink what we mean when we’re talking about recovery, and the problem with how “self-management” is currently thought about in the NHS.

I also share personal essays about my own experiences living with chronic illness, like why the warrior narrative does nothing for me, and how I’m learning (over many years) to not be so scared of my own body.

Many NHS clinicians now recommend the Rest Room to patients in their clinics.

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Here are some lovely things readers have recently said about The Rest Room:

“Thank you Natasha, this membership is the best investment I’ve made into my health and the advice the chronic illness community needs. I recommend it to everyone asking about pacing.”

“I just wanted to say a big thank you for what you are doing. Your podcasts and articles and the wisdom of the experts you have interviewed are helping me to better manage my conditions. Just for context, I’m 50 so this support is coming decades into my life. And I’ll be honest and say that yes, with healthier finances I could have accessed this support all along. So what you are doing is invaluable.”

“Aww this is so beautifully written, and I love that you showcase what the reader can do as well. I love how you showed understanding and compassion to those at every stage, this brought joy to my day. I really appreciate you.”

There are two ways to engage with The Rest Room here on Substack. At least once a month you will receive a free issue of the newsletter with an episode of the podcast and the occasional long-form essay.

With a premium membership subscription, you’ll have access to the full archive and the ability to comment on posts. You will receive at least two premium posts in your inbox every month, and we’re currently working on making early access and premium episodes of the podcast available. You’ll also be supporting my work, and enabling me to spend more time creating resources for our community.

The Rest Room is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Who am I?

I’m a former-BBC staff writer, journalist, podcaster, and writer specialising in chronic illness, disability, and health. I’m also a voracious reader, potato aficionado, and learner of Yiddish.

In February 2022 I went freelance, and decided to launch this newsletter to accompany my podcast. When I’m not working on my own projects, I’m the Content Lead for Visible, who are building an activity tracking platform for illness, not wellness.

In 2019, I was named one of the most influential disabled people in the UK by the Shaw Trust. I also have a bit of a habit of collecting what I like to call “vaguely obnoxious do-gooder titles”, having been named a Global Changemaker, Rhize Emerging Catalyst, and Virgin Media Pioneer (where I was one of the winners of their trip to India to meet Richard Branson).

Some old jobs I’ve done include: “entrepreneurship content guru” at Virgin Unite, co-founder of the internationally recognised Libyan Youth Movement (as part of the IPF, a youth journalism project I founded), as well as working on various international youth projects.

I’ve been writing about chronic illness and disability online for years and years. My experiences and thoughts have changed (and changed me) over that time. But what has stayed the same is my desire to create content that helps and informs others.

I hope you’ll join me.