A little bit about the inspiration behind this book project

In 2017, Effie Koliopoulos started to feature interviews of people in the arthritis community on her blog, Rising Above rheumatoid arthritis. From there, it evolved into a social media arthritis challenge with giveaways during Arthritis Awareness Month in May, where people were invited to share a photo with the hashtag #keepingitrealwith (inserting the form of arthritis they are living with). One year later, the Instagram account @KeepingItRealWithArthritis was created to build a hub where people could connect, read stories, and share their own.

One common thread through most, if not all the stories, was the fact that arthritis doesn’t only impact someone on a physical level. Arthritis can have far-reaching effects in every area of a person’s life. Another common thread was authenticity. People didn’t shy away from sharing all the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between.

This all sums up the meaning behind ‘keeping it real with arthritis.’

When Effie was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her teens, 17 years ago, social media wasn’t quite on the scene yet. Back then she had wished there was something more than just a few online blogs, magazines in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices that featured a few people of a certain demographic and age, or pamphlets, that she could turn to. Though nowadays the emergence of multiple social media platforms has provided an unmatched sense of comradery within the arthritis community. But what if social media one day shifts gears or completely disappears? While that is unluckily to happen, it still sparked an idea to create something more tangible and long-lasting for not only people of today, but generations to come.

Fast forward to the summer of 2021, when a grant opportunity presented itself to make this book idea a possibility. Effie took a chance and applied to the HealtheVoices Impact Fund (for more information see the FAQ section). That fall, she was informed by the advisory board that they felt this project was very creative and would be quite impactful for many living with arthritis. The book will be published with ImagineWe Publishers.

The Mission

is to feature 100 or more diverse short stories of those affected by arthritis directly or indirectly. Arthritis doesn’t only impact people living with arthritis, but those in their lives as well.

The vision

is share real stories of life with arthritis and shine a light on who the person is despite arthritis. Each story will fall into a specific theme, and these themes will represent the areas of life that arthritis impacts. An arthritis diagnosis can be seen as a negative life event, but in the aftermath, equally many positives can arise from it. Thus, stories will follow the motto that has been part of Effie’s own arthritis journey and the Keeping It Real with Arthritis stories since its inception; to share the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between about arthritis, to raise awareness, address stigmas and misrepresentation, encourage, inspire, motivate, empower, and provide hope, acceptance, support, validation, resources, and non-toxic positivity. Featuring 100 or more diverse stories, is symbolism for there being more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions.

The value

is that this book can be a resource for not only people living with arthritis, but loved ones, providers, future generations to come, and anyone else interested in learning more about arthritis.

About the Author

Effie Koliopoulos is a freelance writer and arthritis advocate based in Chicago, IL. She has a B.A. in journalism, public relations and screenwriting. This is her first non-fiction book of short stories that she is putting together, and the only one of its kind for the arthritis community. She’s currently working on children’s picture books and other writing projects. Follow along on her blog www.risingabovera.com