Interview With Lauren Saikkonen – Author of Invisible Illness: Coming of Age, Chronic Illness, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

#MEAction is once again thrilled to share a new book, Invisible Illness: Coming of Age, Chronic Illness, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, with you by author Lauren Saikkonen! This book is an autobiography that covers Lauren’s entire life, but heavily focuses on her battle with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, ME, and fibromyalgia. 

You can purchase this book on Amazon– get a copy here! Lauren has graciously offered to donate a portion of her proceeds to #MEAction for all books purchased during the month of May. 

cover of a book. Invisible Illness in white font on the top of the image. picture of shoes and a sign.

Lauren took some time to answer questions about herself, her writing journey, and what she hopes people will take away from reading this book. We hope you enjoy what she has to say:

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
I’m 39 years old, married, and a mother of two girls. I got sick at the age of 17, so  I’ve been ill over half of my life. I taught high school social studies before my symptoms became too severe to work. Now I consider myself to be a disabled housewife and mother, and as of recently, an author.

2. What made you decide to write this book? 
I started a blog documenting the ordeal with my health on and off since 2012 that I always dreamt of turning into a book . I met soon-to-be famous author Stephanie Land at a Millions MIssing event in Washington D.C. in 2016. I read Maid when she published it in 2020, it was about a mother overcoming tremendous adversity. Her book, and subsequent Netflix series made me think, “I have an incredible story, why not me?” I decided to pull the trigger on my dream of writing my own book.

3. Can you share a little about the experience and how living with ME affected your writing experience?
I decided to start writing the book in early 2022. Aside from my blog to build off of, my first move was to hire a professional writer to help co-write. My health took an absolute turn for the worse in the fall of 2022. I spent months in various hospitals and institutions fighting for my life.

When I finally made it home, I was deeply traumatized by my experience. I re-lived my terrible ordeal for the sake of documenting what I had endured by dictating it to my co-author, Brenda. I had to rely on my co-author and husband to proofread and edit certain sections, as they were too upsetting for me to hear. 

4. What is one thing you want people to take away after reading your book?
That is a tough question. It’s an autobiography, so there are many themes of things that I’ve been through in my life- abuse, sexual assault, eating disorders, chronic illness, etc. I think one of the main things I would like for people to take away is how severe and misunderstood these types of illnesses can be.

5. Who would you recommend this book to? 
It’s definitely a “truth is stranger than fiction” type of story. You really couldn’t make this stuff up. Some of the content is extremely graphic and disturbing, hence the reason for the content warning that I added to the back. That being said, it is a great book, and an incredible story. So I guess I’d say, if you’re the type of person that can’t look away from a car crash, this book is for you.

6. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
I was very involved in ME activism from 2015-2022, until my health spiraled out of control. I went to D.C multiple times for #MillionsMissing, and Lobbying Day, and any other ME events and actions that came up.

When my health deteriorated after my crisis in 2022, I saw writing my book as a work of activism. And the hardest one at that. Some of the book was dictated from passages that I wrote while in various psych wards, written in crayon as you’re not permitted pens or pencils in those facilities. There were times that I wasn’t sure I would survive, and I thought I needed to get through this so I can document this for the world to see.

I also feel like this book pays tribute to those that went through similar crises, and didn’t make it. I wanted to speak up for them.

I appreciate #MEAction for helping me to get the word out about my book.

 

The book is available in print, Kindle, and audio on Amazon. The audio is available on Audible and ITunes. 

My Instagram handle is Lauren Saikk. My X handle (Twitter) is @ItsMELauren. 
 
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