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Living, Writing, and Advocating: A Journey of Resilience and Creativity


Life can take unexpected turns, challenging our perceptions of who we are and what we're capable of. Kristin Houlihan, a chronically-ill and disabled wife and mother of four, has embarked on a remarkable journey of self-discovery, resilience, and creativity. Through her passion for writing, particularly poetry, Kristin has found solace, purpose, and a means to raise awareness about the realities of living with Long Covid Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. In this blog post, we'll delve into Kristin's experiences, goals, and her latest endeavor with Epistemic Literary.

A Life Altered:

Kristin's life drastically changed when she was diagnosed with Long Covid Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Over a period of two years, she went from being an active stay-at-home mom and freelance editor to spending approximately 22 hours a day in bed. Despite the significant challenges she faces, Kristin tries to maintain a positive outlook and sets goals to be an active participant in her family's life and to live and love fully from her current position, which is mostly in bed. Her determination is truly inspiring, as she strives to fulfill her roles as a wife, mother, friend, writer, and publisher.

Confronting Discrimination:

Discrimination is an unfortunate reality faced by many individuals with disabilities. Kristin acknowledges that she has been fortunate to encounter relatively minimal blatant discrimination, probably mostly because she rarely leaves the house. However, she recognizes that ableism exists, often unintentionally, in various aspects of society. Kristin shares how she has become more aware of ableism and its demoralizing impact, both externally and internally. She emphasizes the importance of speaking up, being visible, and challenging societal norms to combat ableism effectively.

She specifically highlights the societal assumption that disabled people are old or alone—things like wheelchair accessible concert or tour tickets being allowed one companion. There’s almost zero recognition that there are young disabled people, or disabled parents with multiple kids.

Writing as Empowerment:

For Kristin, writing serves as a powerful means of self-expression and empowerment. Many hobbies or entertainment options are inaccessible to Kristin due to her illness, but she’s fortunate that when her energy and cognition allow she can typically still read and write. It looks different than it used to—in small chunks, sporadically, and typically only at night when her cognition is best. Kristin's self-published chapbook, titled "Lift the Mask," is a collection of poetry and lyrical prose that was written over the course of her disease progression. Comprising 29 micro-entries, it is accessible to individuals experiencing cognitive dysfunction due to illness or injury. Her words offer comfort, understanding, and a voice to those who may be facing similar challenges.

Epistemic Literary: Celebrating Knowledge, Connection, and Growth:

Kristin's creative journey has expanded beyond her personal work with the establishment of Epistemic Literary. Alongside author Melissa Rotert, Kristin co-founded this fully-digital anthology series that celebrates knowledge, connection, and growth through poetry and short fiction. They recently opened their first submission call, inviting writers to share their work until June 30. With Epistemic Literary, Kristin and Melissa aim to provide a platform for diverse voices and honor the trust writers place in them.

Looking Ahead:

Despite the limitations of her illness, Kristin remains committed to making a difference. She urges readers to support individuals suffering from ME and Long Covid, emphasizing the need for understanding and assistance from society. Kristin's dedication to her writing and advocacy work serves as an inspiration to us all, encouraging us to take care of ourselves while lending our ears to those who are often unheard.


Kristin Houlihan's journey exemplifies the resilience and strength of the human spirit in the face of suffering. Through her writing and advocacy, she sheds light on the challenges faced by those with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Her personal experiences and commitment to raising awareness are not only empowering but also a call to action for a more inclusive and compassionate society. As we support Kristin's endeavors with Epistemic Literary, let us remember the power of our own voices and the importance of amplifying those who need to be heard.

Headshot of Kristin Houlihan, a white woman with straight brown hair past her shoulders wearing brown-framed glasses and looking off to her left.


Twitter - @theedifyingword (Kristin); @epistemiclit (Mag)

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