Disclaimer: Though the writer of this article, Jennifer Saito, is chronically ill (Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia, chronic migraines), as is TiffanyWitcher (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, IBS), neither is a medical doctor. This article is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical condition. It’s simply designed to share first-hand experiences and tips to cope as streamers.
Streaming is a stressful gig at the best of times. For chronically ill folks like TiffanyWitcher, juggling a busy streaming schedule, chronic pain, and all of the duties that come with being an entrepreneur, partner, and parent, it’s even harder. Today we’ll look at some coping tips that have worked for Tiffany and discuss how you might apply them to your own life as a streamer.
Art Credit: TovioR
First, let’s meet Tiffany (they/she)! Tiffany was an on-camera streamer for several years before becoming a VTuber just over two years ago. Tiffany, dubbed “The Charity Witch on Twitch,” has worked with 65 different charities and raised over $60K with the help of their community. An advocate for chronically ill and disabled streamers, Tiffany has given talks on accessibility to companies like Square Enix and even presented at the Video Game Accessibility Awards. Tiffany suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and organs, as well as RA, IBS, and Sjogren’s.
Coping Tips for Chronically Ill Streamers
Try a Virtual Avatar
Many streamers know the struggle of having to get camera ready—a task made even more difficult when the streamer is chronically ill. Tiffany opted to try a virtual avatar to get a break from applying daily makeup to cover their lupus rashes. In Tiffany’s case, they decided to stream full time as a VTuber but if you enjoy being in front of the camera, why not go virtual part time? Our article on VTubing for Beginners will give you the rundown on how to get started with a digital avatar. Also, be sure to check out Tiffany’s YouTube channel to watch them interview disabled content creators who use VTuber avatars.
Art Credit: BearboyJW
Use Mods if Possible
Tiffany suffers from “lupus fog,” a side effect of lupus which affects their ability to think clearly. Many chronically ill people are familiar with brain fog and know how frustrating it can be. Streaming requires constant multitasking and is a mentally taxing job even at the best of times. Tiffany relies on their mods to keep them on task and offer reminders (for example, if someone in the chat subbed or donated and didn’t receive a shout-out). If you’ve never considered hiring a mod (or several) for your channel, many streamers consider them to be lifesavers.
Put Your Health First
This should go without saying but some folks need to hear it—no stream is worth compromising your health. If Tiffany isn’t feeling well, they cancel their streams as needed. Tiffany notes that while people with chronic illnesses have a tendency to apologize, they shouldn’t have to, “We didn’t ask for this and it’s not our fault.” While it can be tempting to keep up with “the grind,” doing so could result in burnout or exacerbate your illnesses.
Keep Your Community Informed
Chronically ill people never know how they’re going to feel on any given day, which can make it hard to keep a consistent streaming schedule. If you can’t make it to a stream, let your community know through your preferred social media channel(s) (we recommend creating a Discord for your community if you haven’t already!). Whether or not you want to disclose your illness is a deeply personal issue and you should only share what you’re comfortable with.
Art Credit: PaleaRaptor
Use Ads to Your Advantage
Tiffany is a Twitch Partner, so they have the ability to run ads. Every 30 minutes, Tiffany takes a short break to stretch, hydrate, and take meds if needed. Our article about unlocking Twitch ads explains how to run ads manually and why they can be more beneficial than automatic ads. In Tiffany’s case, they let the chat know an ad is coming so everyone has time to prepare for the break. Create positive associations with ads by encouraging everyone to take a moment to stretch and hydrate.
Try Accessibility Products
Tiffany notes that while the world still has a long way to go in terms of accessibility for chronically ill and disabled streamers (and gamers in general), there are some products that have worked for them. Tiffany uses gloves to help with their rheumatoid arthritis and the author of this article swears by her gaming chair with attached footrest. Consider adding some items to your setup if you have room in your budget, whether it be a standing mouse like the Logitech Lift, an adaptive gaming kit, or a luxe Herman Miller Vantum chair with full neck and shoulder support. Everyday items such as a heating pad, back pillow, or aromatherapy diffuser may also help, though it’s best to ask your doctor for recommendations.
If you’re a content creator who also suffers from chronic illness, you’re not alone. With the help of mods, their trusted caregiver, and their virtual avatar, Tiffany has cultivated a successful career as a streamer, voice actor, accessibility consultant, and activist. Most importantly, Tiffany puts their health first and has a community who respects that. Catch up with Tiffany on their Twitch channel, Twitter, or stop by their YouTube. There’s no denying that life as a chronically ill streamer is hard, but there’s a community of folks like Tiffany who are working to make things easier and more accessible for all of us.