When You’re Chronically Ill: “Giving Up” Versus “Giving In”

Giving up can make you feel like a failure, as if you’re mentally weak and undisciplined By contrast, giving in is a type of surrender. I think of it as sweet surrender.

After 5 Years of Writing for Psychology Today: My Favorites

This month marks my five-year anniversary of writing for Psychology Today online. It’s hard for me to believe, but this is my 184th piece, Here are my ten personal favorites.

A Sure-Fire Way to Silence Your Inner Critic

Most of us have been conditioned from childhood to be our own harshest critics. That inner judge can shadow us, scrutinizing our every move and making us quite miserable.

When Should the Chronically Ill See a Doctor? Here's a Guide

I hope these guidelines are helpful. If you’re in doubt as to whether what’s happening warrants a trip to the doctor, err on the side of caution and make that trip.

A Secret for Surviving a Rough Day

The next time you think you can’t cope, try gently saying to yourself, “It’s just a day in the life; you’ll make it.”

Oscar Winners About the Physically and Mentally Disabled

This is not an exhaustive list. (I haven’t seen every Oscar-winning film!) That said, here are descriptions of twelve films that moved me deeply, from newest to oldest.

"Should I or Shouldn’t I?" The Dilemmas of Chronic Illness

I’m aware that those of us who struggle with our health don’t have a monopoly on being faced with dilemmas in life. We do, however, tend to share the same ones.

How to Live Compassionately: Forgive Yourself Forgive Others

Forgiveness is an act of compassion, the latter meaning reaching out to yourself and others to alleviate suffering. Forgiving yourself and forgiving others does just that.

A Day in the Life with Chronic Illness

Chronic pain and illness don't affect everyone the same way. That said, I’ve heard from people all over the world and our day-to-day lives are strikingly similar.

A Holiday Lesson on Interdependence from Martin Luther King

"We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality." —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Holiday Letter to Loved Ones from the Chronically Ill

It’s a hard time of year for me, and so I thought I’d write a holiday letter, but not the usual “here’s-what-I-did-this-year” kind.

More Indispensables for Those With Chronic Pain and Illness

My "comfort food" is a cup of decaf coffee with cocoa powder, stevia, and coconut milk in it...

10 Indispensables for Those with Chronic Pain and Illness

I know the joy of hearing the actual voice of a loved one. That said, email is the principal way I communicate with people...

Five Common Misconceptions About Trauma

Contrary to popular opinion, experiencing growth after trauma is far more common than PTSD. The new science of post-traumatic growth has found in thousands of studies that up to 90 percent of trauma survivors eventually attest to a renewed zest for life, major empathetic growth, and increased emotional maturity.

Stick to the Facts to Keep Stress and Anxiety at Bay

I’ve learned that I can save myself a lot of needless stress and anxiety if I catch myself before I start spinning stories that go beyond my direct experience. Here’s an example involving my dog, Scout...

20 Tips for Living Well with Chronic Pain and Illness

Herein, a list of 20 tips to help with the health challenges all us face at one time or another in life.

Multitasking + Chronic Pain and Illness = Bad Idea!

I want to share a story about how I recently put my relationship with multitasking to the ultimate test…and failed miserably. As a result, I’ve resolved anew to find ways to cut back on this well-engrained habit.

What is a Life Well-Lived?

Once in a while, I like to take a step back from my daily concerns and ask myself what it means to live a good life. What would I be thinking about each day? What would I be saying and doing?

Top Ten Health Tips That Have Never Worked for Me

Ever since a seemingly acute viral infection in 2001 turned into a chronic illness, I’ve received dozens and dozens of tips on how to regain my health. This piece is intended to be lighthearted, not meanhearted, which is why I’d be thrilled if someone reading one of these tips can honestly say: “That one helped me!”

How to Mindfully Turn an Unpleasant Experience Around

If you make a conscious effort to pay attention to the full range of your present-moment experience, you can almost always transform an unpleasant experience into a pleasant one, or at least into a mix of pleasantness and unpleasantness

4 Tips for Dealing with Unsolicited Health Advice

Despite our attempts to be honest with family and friends about not wanting advice, some may continue to give it. This calls for self-protection in the form of self-compassion. We can gently remind ourselves what a burden it is to add to our ongoing pain and illness the work of having to access how to skillfully deal with what others are telling us to do about our health.

Which Buddhist Teachings Might Be Most Helpful?

Examine the teachings in light of your understanding of what is harmful and leads to suffering, and what is beneficial and leads to peace and well-being. I think of myself as an eclectic Buddhist, meaning that I study, practice, and write about whatever I think is beneficial and alleviates suffering, regardless of which tradition it comes from.

Denial Only Makes Chronic Pain and Illness Worse

It’s better to live within the limits of what I can reasonably do than to pretend things are as I wish they would be.

Give Your Mind a Rest: Practice Not-Thinking

Discursive thinking—the constant stream of one thought following another—is a deeply ingrained habit. It’s so ingrained that we often start thinking just to occupy our minds.

14 Tips from 14 Years Sick

#14: When all else fails, go to bed.

You Can't Fix Everything

I’m much more at peace since I stopped trying to fix everyone’s life, including my own. It’s making it easier to take those unfixable moments in stride and to appreciate happiness and joy when they happen to come my way.

How to Cope with Side-Effects of Medications

Many of us who suffer from chronic pain and illness are on medications with side-effects that, in some cases, can be as difficult to cope with as our initial health problems.

Four Years Out: My Favorite “Turning Straw Into Gold" Pieces

My personal favorites cover a broad range of subjects and are spread evenly across the four years. I invite you to browse through the list and read those that spark your interest.

Adoption Diary Pt. 3: My Daughter in Her Own Words

Before I became a mother, I had thought of my life as having begun when I was adopted. But now my heart swelled with sadness. For the first time in my life I began to wonder who my biological mother was and how she could have ever let me go.

8 Pet Peeves about Doctors

I’ve had some excellent medical care, so I want don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. But the following have happened to me and others multiple times, so I think it’s fair to call them Pet Peeves.

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