Embarrassment is a feeling of awkward self-consciousness or shame. It manifests as a sense of discomfort or even foolishness around others. Feeling embarrassed is emotionally painful because it means you feel uncomfortable with yourself. The problem with embarrassment is that it adds a layer of mental suffering to the difficulties you’re already facing with your health. Here are four reasons why those of us who are chronically ill feel embarrassed at ...

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For many years after I became chronically ill, I blamed myself for failing to recover my health. I told myself: “You get sick; you get better. It’s as simple as that.” As a result of this stubborn attitude, I refused to set limits, even though it would have been a tremendous help, not only in managing my symptoms but in keeping them from flaring. Learning to set limitations I have a background ...

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I’ve been concerned lately. Here’s why. In 2001, I got sick with what the doctors assumed was an acute viral infection, but I never recovered. I’m mostly housebound, often bedbound. My diagnosis is the little understood (but much misunderstood) myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. I describe it as “the flu without the fever.” This means that fatigue is only one of many symptoms I contend with ...

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An excerpt from How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Second Edition). Copyright 2018 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications.  In the years since I’ve been chronically ill, more essential to me than formal meditation has been mindfulness outside of ...

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An excerpt from How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Second Edition). Copyright 2018 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications.  The fifth way I cultivate compassion for myself is to consciously work on opening my heart to the intense emotions ...

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After many years of being mostly housebound by chronic illness (which includes chronic pain), here are a few of the dilemmas I’ve faced over and over. I’m confident that I’m not alone in my “should I/shouldn’t I?” world. Do I accept an invitation from a friend to get together or do I refuse it? If I refuse the invitation, depending on who issued it, it may be the last one I’ll receive ...

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I’ve written a lot about the tough challenges that those of us with chronic illness face (chronic illness includes chronic pain). I thought it would be constructive to take what I tend to think of as negatives and see if I could turn them into positives. Sometimes I had to dig deep to turn a negative into a positive; nevertheless, here are the results of my experiment. Negative: I don’t look ...

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Healthy or not, everybody has his or her share of frustrations in life. The chronically ill don’t have a corner on that market! This piece focuses on frustrations that are unique to those with ongoing health issues. I’ve experienced all of them as a result of being chronically ill with a debilitating illness that settled in after I contracted what appeared to be an acute viral infection in 2001. Here are ...

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After sixteen years of chronic illness and even after writing a book titled How to Be Sick, I still can feel sick of being sick. (When I use the word “sick,” I’m including chronic pain.) If you’re as intimately familiar as I am with sick of being sick, you know it how unpleasant it feels. Here are ten strategies to help you through this difficult emotional time. 1. Start by acknowledging how ...

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Pacing refers to spacing out your activities during the day so that you’re able to stay within the limits of what your body can handle without exacerbating your symptoms. Another way to think of it is that pacing is a way to keep you inside your “energy envelope” -- the envelope that contains your energy stores for any given day. First, an admission: Even though pacing may be the single best ...

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Obviously, chronic illness doesn’t affect everyone the same way. That said, I’ve heard from people all over the world with every imaginable chronic illness (which includes chronic pain), and our day-to-day lives are strikingly similar. And so, I thought I’d describe a typical “day in the life,” using my own experience from a few months ago as an example. My hope in writing this piece is for those of us ...

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After more than fifteen years of being mostly housebound by chronic illness (which includes chronic pain), here are a few of the dilemmas I’ve faced over and over. I’m confident that I’m not alone in my “should I/shouldn’t I?” world. Do I accept an invitation from a friend to get together or do I refuse it? If I refuse the invitation, depending on who issued it, it may be the last one ...

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This piece is based on personal experience and on the thousands of emails I’ve received from those who live day-to-day with chronic illness (which includes chronic pain). 1. Email. I know the joy of hearing the actual voice of a loved one. That said, email is the principal way I communicate with people. It’s hard for me to talk on the phone. It saps my energy quickly, partly because of the need for ...

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Many of us who suffer from chronic pain and illness are on medications that carry side effects that, in some cases, can be as difficult to cope with as our initial health problems. I’ve recently started a medication that I’m scheduled to be on for five years. I’m taking it because it significantly reduces the risk of a recurrence of my recent bout with breast cancer. And so, yes, I’m taking ...

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Here’s the most distressing piece of unsolicited advice I’ve received to date. It showed up in my Inbox two days after I’d completed a course of radiation for breast cancer. The email was in response to an article I’d written about this new, unexpected turn my life had taken; the article included the fact that, at the time, I was in the middle of a course of radiation treatment. Here’s ...

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An excerpt from How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide. Copyright 2015 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications. "Freedom is instantaneous the moment we accept the way things are." - Karen Maezen Miller A well-known Buddhist story known as the Mustard Seed helped me ...

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An excerpt from How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide. Copyright 2015 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications. "Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were." - Marcel Proust For the most part, I’ve adjusted to my new ...

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shutterstock_193162472 November of last year found me living as best I could with several health issues, the most debilitating of which stems from never having recovered from a serious viral infection in 2001. I’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a little understood and much-misunderstood illness. It keeps me virtually housebound. For the most part, I’ve made peace with feeling sick all ...

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It’s hard enough to sustain a good relationship when neither partner is facing a health challenge. Illness ranks high on the list of life’s stressful events, so it’s no surprise that it can have a negative impact on a close relationship. Couples may benefit from counseling, one of the principal reasons being that the presence of a neutral party in the room can facilitate more calm and constructive communication. What follows ...

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My family and close friends have done so much for me since I became chronically ill in 2001, and I’m deeply grateful to them. I’ve written this piece because there are a few important things I want them to know about how I feel. Although this piece is personal in nature, I’ve been hanging out online for over a dozen years with other people who are chronically ill (which includes those ...

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