“I always say that writing is a therapy and promote this to anyone”

18 March 2020
John Welsh with friends and his granddaughter.

John, 66, is a grandad to five and a Dad to three. He describes himself as a cross between Wallace (as in Wallace and Gromit), as he likes Wensleydale cheese and Bilbo Baggins and adventures. 

Here he shares his story.

"My arthritis diagnosis was a slow burner.”

I have lived with osteoarthritis for many years. My arthritis diagnosis was a slow burner, I’m not sure when the ‘A’ word was first mentioned.

Eventually, five years ago I decided that I needed to take the condition more seriously and give it more respect than I had done. This was because my recovery time was getting longer and the aches were not going away.

Also, my selection of back and knee braces were growing, together with my collection of supplements alongside the kettle.

“I’m bipolar and I’ve lived my life in the fast lane, which has taken a toll on my joints.”

I’ve played lots of tennis, enjoyed many walks in the Dales and generally acting like the oldest teenager in town. I miss my competitive sport (mainly tennis and table tennis) and try to keep busy with other projects.

I’m a writer. With three poetry books published and two short stories compiled and produced by me.I always say that writing is a therapy and promote this to anyone

For the last 10 years I’ve been doing presentations and talks to mental health students and lecturers about my bipolar. I felt I wanted to give something back to the services who’ve kept me well.

Like my mental health, my physical health can be affected by my lifestyle and my diet I try to keep in mind my overall wellness and the good advice of family and friends.

“When I saw there wasn’t an arthritis group in Lincoln, I thought, well I’ll start one.”

I was surprised to see no representation in Lincoln. I thought does this mean that Lincoln people do not have the condition. This silly thought passed, and I decided to start a group where people could talk.

That was in 2017 and I held the first meetings at the David Lloyd sport and leisure club where I worked. After a while, I realised most people going to the gym are doing the right thing anyway e.g, exercise.

I then approached my GP practice and they gave me use of a private room and have been very supportive.

“I have met some very inspiring people who have shared their journey with us.”

We are a small group which has an intimacy which I think works. We don’t talk cures and overall solutions; however, we listen, empathise and signpost people to resources that they may not have known about. I've had some super chats.

My advice to others living with arthritis would be – keep talking and keep moving, although sometimes this is difficult if the pain is intense. 

What if I need support right now?