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Lately I haven’t been around here as much as I used to. In fact, I think I haven’t opened my laptop at all in, what, two weeks? You guessed it: a flare up. I’ve been dealing with that for about six weeks now. At some point I decided to stop blogging for a while to save myself from the stress of my own deadlines. Instead, I’ve been reading.
I came across this book before when I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was ill just yet, so I didn’t order it. I didn’t want to know how to be sick, I wanted to know How To Get Better (Right Now). Sadly, there is no instant remedy for most chronic illnesses, so I finally decided that I’m going to have to deal with the fact that I’m ill and I’m gonna be ill for a while, if not my whole life. Whether I like it or not, it’s time to learn How To Be Sick.
Toni Bernhard just arrived in Paris for a romantic getaway with her husband (funfact: husband is also named Tony) when she got sick and never got better. When, after visiting a lot of doctors and not feeling any better, it became clear that this illness was here to stay, Toni decided that, even though she couldn’t heal her body, she could heal her mind. Chronic illness comes with a lot of painful challenges. Friendships fade, your career is suddenly over, maybe you lose the ability to walk, read, think clearly. Good chance you will have a severe identity crisis more than once. It’s hard. It’s very hard.
Is it a reason to not be happy anymore? Is it a reason to pull your blanket over your head and stop trying to make the best of life?
Toni had had a lot of training in buddhist practices before she got sick and decided to figure out how she could use that knowledge to feel better, even when she’s stuck in bed for days or weeks, missing out of so many things, feeling like crap. It became a daily practice for her and although she admits she still has days that she just wants to cry out: “I don’t want to be sick anymore!”, she can deal with it a lot better than before she started to use her buddhist training to heal her mind.
In this important book, that I want to have within arms-reach at all times, she discusses:
- coping with symtoms that just won’t go away
- coming to terms with a more isolated life
- weathering fear about the future
- facing the misunderstanding of others
- dealing with the health care system; and
- for spouses, partners or other caregivers, adapting to so many unexpected and sometimes sudden life changes.
In this book, which is not hard to read with our brain-fogged heads (at least, with my brain-fogged head), you can find a treasure of practical exercises to ease your mind when your body is pissing you off.
Toni Bernhard is a friend to turn to when you’re in need of some wise and encouraging words. She will live on my nightstand from now on. Maybe she should live on yours too.