Don’t Be Intimidated in the Doctor’s Office: Six Strategies

Here are six strategies to help ensure you make the most of your time with the doctor.

Four Common Misconceptions About the Bill of Rights

When someone who is accused of a crime is released from jail because he or she was the subject of an unreasonable search or seizure, people often complain that the Fourth Amendment serves only to help criminals. But this is incorrect. It was enacted to protect innocent people like you and me from unreasonable government intrusion.

In the Kingdom of the Sick: An Interview With Laurie Edwards

Laurie has written a social history of chronic illness in America, titled In the Kingdom of the Sick. This was a major undertaking and Laurie has succeeded most admirably. In a starred review, Booklist calls it, “an indispensable book for anyone with or concerned about chronic disease, and everyone interested in the health professions.”

Is Free Will an Illusion? A Guest Post by Joan Tollifson

This is a guest post by Joan Tollifson. See my introductory paragraph to learn who Joan is and why I asked her if I could share this piece.

Reflections on “How to Be Sick”

I’ve opened "How to Be Sick" many times since it was published in 2010, but I’d never read it cover-to-cover. It was an intense experience, not without tears. I’m sharing what I learned because I hope it will be valuable, not just to those who’ve read the book, but to others who might recognize experiences we share as members of the community of the chronically ill.

Impatient? Why and How to Practice Patience

As I learned to be patient with life's inevitable delays and difficulties, I noticed two things. First, being patient is a way of treating myself with compassion. Second, being patient gave rise to a feeling of equanimity—a calmness of mind that makes it easier to ride life’s ups and downs without being tossed about like a boat in a storm.

12 Tips from 12 Years Sick

Two years ago, I wrote “10 Tips from 10 Years Sick.” Last year, I wrote “11 Tips from 11 Years Sick.” This year, sigh…I’m still sick. And so it’s time for “12 Tips from 12 Years Sick.” A few of them have made an appearance in different form in the earlier pieces, but that’s because some tips have a very long shelf life…

Use “Paintracking” to Help Manage Chronic Pain

“Living with chronic pain can feel like you are a raggedy doll, tossed about by conditions beyond your control.” So writes Deborah Barrett in her wonderfully helpful and practical book, "Paintracking: Your Personal Guide to Living Well with Chronic Pain."

Tapping into Self-Compassion to Help Ease Everyday Suffering

We can learn to treat ourselves with the same compassion that we'd treat a loved one in need.

8 Things I Miss Most as a Result of Chronic Pain and Illness

It's good to remember that there’s a tendency to rewrite our past and put it on a pedestal: “Those were the good old days.” But, in reality, my life before I got sick was a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, good times and rough times.

Two Years Out: The Top 15 “Turning Straw Into Gold” Pieces

This is an anniversary of sorts for me. I’ve been writing for Psychology Today for two years now and am approaching having posted 100 pieces. I thought this would be a good time to do some math and so I’ve compiled a list of the most read of my 93 pieces.

Spring Unfolds in Quotations, Reflections, and Photographs

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” —the wonderful Robin Williams

More: Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain

I recently posted “5 Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain.” I wrote it from personal experience but was amazed to discover how many of you said it applied to you too. It seems as if we all face the same tough choices...

What Type of Thinker Are You?

“Convergent” and “divergent” thinking represent two different ways of looking at the world. A convergent thinker sees a limited, predetermined number of options. By contrast, a divergent thinker is always looking for more options. Many of us get stuck in convergent thinking and, as a result, don’t see the many possibilities available to us.

When You're Down and Out: How to Get Through the Bad Days

Like me, you may have people in your life who tell you to keep a positive attitude. “Think positively and everything will be okay,” seems to be one of the mantras of the 21st Century. But to be honest, I don’t always feel positive.

Are You Embarrassed?

The major reason that some of us are embarrassment-prone is that we’ve been conditioned to set unrealistically high expectations for ourselves and to judge ourselves negatively when we can’t possibly meet those standards.

5 Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain

Here are five tough choices continually faced by those who suffer from chronic pain and/or illness. There aren't easy answers to the issues they raise: that’s why they’re tough choices.

Your Physical Illness May Now Be Labeled a Mental Disorder

Despite the vehement opposition of many in the health care field—including many therapists—the American Psychiatric Association has included Somatic Symptom Disorder in its fifth edition—DSM-5—which will be published in May. This means that millions of people who suffer from chronic illness will soon be subject to diagnosis as mentally ill.

Winter Lovers, Humbuggers, and Poets: 21 Quotes on Winter

Twenty-one quotations about winter with paintings by Andrew Wyeth who said: “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.”

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that Nobody Will Keep

Every year I torture myself by making New Year’s Resolutions that I don’t keep. So, as a public service, in order to save you the trouble of letting yourself down yet again, I offer the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that Nobody Will Keep...

Physical Illnesses May Soon Be Labeled “Mental Disorders”

You can help prevent the creation of Somatic Symptom Disorder. After reading this piece, click on the link to Dr. Frances’ article, “Mislabeling Medical Illness as Mental Disorder." He has the best chance to get your feedback (via "page views" and comments to his piece) to the American Psychiatric Association before the new manual for mental disorders goes to press.

A Bit of Holiday Humor to Brighten Your Day

The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other. —Johnny Carson

Educating Loved Ones about Your Health During the Holidays

When the holidays arrive, we find ourselves expected to participate in a range of activities. The increase in activity exacerbates our physical symptoms, while coping with sadness, frustration, and maybe even guilt about our physical limitations gives rise to emotional pain.

Coolest Kid on the Block—Christmas Tree AND Hanukkah Bush!

Some of our relatives disapproved of my parents’ holiday traditions and refused to come to our house in December. But my friends—Jewish and Christian alike—thought I was the coolest kid on the block because I got to celebrate both holidays.

Is Your Caregiver Self-Absorbed and Manipulative?

Do any of the following sound familiar? At first your caregiver is amazing. He or she seems truly devoted to giving you the best care possible. But then this person to whom you’ve entrusted your care (and often your house keys) begins to criticize you and find fault with everything you do.

When Poor Health and the Holidays Collide

It's a “happy/sad” time of year for many of us (to use an expression coined by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield). I want so badly to spend time with my loved ones, but I also know that I won’t be able to participate fully in the festivities and that even my limited participation will result in “pay back” later on.

What I'm REALLY Grateful for this Thanksgiving Season

I’m grateful that I live in a family that values re-gifting...

Another Blow to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sufferers

Were it not for the woefully misleading label that’s been given to this debilitating illness, I don’t see how the American Academy of Family Physicians could have begun its new “Patient Information Sheet on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” with this sentence: “Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder that causes you to be very tired.”

Boo! Halloween Humor to Tickle Your Funny Bone

Q. What did the skeleton say to the bartender? A. I'll have two beers and a mop.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Getting a Cold

I was recently visited by that old friend, the common cold. I used to think nothing of it. A cold was a minor nuisance that didn’t even stop me from going to work. But now that I’m chronically ill, a cold is a big event in my life. In How to Be Sick, I call it “sick upon sick.” Here I share the good, the bad, and the ugly of getting a cold...

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