October 18th, 2010

cupping water

How To Be Sick

I went to a talk on Sunday by Toni Bernhard, the author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers. The book is available through Wisdom Publications.

Toni Bernhard is diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

When I typed "How to be sick" into Google, the second book result that popped up was something called Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It. I felt angry, because I believe it's a lie that a person's choices can always bring them to full health, and I believe it's a lie that harms people.

Toni Bernhard said at one point that this culture "worships at the altar of wellness." I think that sums up an appropriate response to the "health is a choice" concept.

I'm writing up my notes from the talk here.
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I went to this talk because I have chronic health conditions that affect my mobility and energy levels, and I am a caregiver for my mother, who has Alzheimers. I'm a Buddhist and my study of Buddhism has helped me work through grieving over these things and building a life around them, and I wanted to hear a talk that specifically addressed how Buddhism can help a person deal with chronic illness. I figured that I already knew a lot of what she was going to say, but I thought I'd learn a few things and find out that I'm already doing a lot of what there is to do, and that would help me feel more confident.

I especially liked the phrases "Am I sure?" and "don't know mind." I think I will find those useful.

There was some discussion of envy. I've experienced envy when the OH goes to social events such as cons without me. I want to enjoy cons but I mostly don't unless I plan very carefully. It's not because of mobility issues, it's because I get mentally/emotionally exhausted. (Introversion certainly, but also sensory stimulation.) I realized that the reason I experience envy around this is that I don't accept my social limitation. I think I should be able to fix it or get over it. If I can let go of that belief then I might not feel so conflicted around the issue.

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