‘Chronic Resilience’ honestly saved my sanity. I read it when I was at one of my lowest points, in December 2017. I was getting sicker, no treatments were working, I didn’t have health insurance, and everything was getting on top of me. Then along came this book – bought with a Barnes and Noble gift card I was given for Christmas.
Danea Horn shows us how to develop a sense of control of our everyday lives despite the challenges of being chronically ill. In fact, the very first chapter encourages us to consider what is within our control – we all have control of at least some elements of our lives no matter how sick we might be. These things might range from living by your values and making the most of your time (addressed chapter 2), to taking your medications as directed (chapter 9) and practicing gratitude for the things/people you do have and things that are going well (chapter 10). She takes us through how we can gain a more intentional control of these various areas of life via congenial description and anecdotes, and simple, practical – even fun – exercises.
A few exercises I found most helpful in regaining my sense of agency and control included tracking how I was using my time. This helped me see where I was wasting my then very limited time and energy. Danea goes on to suggest ways to decide how you might better spend your time. Another exercise walked me through the stages of goal setting in order to make progress and gain a sense of achievement. These goals may be health related, but they certainly needn’t be – this book constantly reminds you that you are so much more than your illness. Another exercise helped me come up with a list of enjoyable distractions for those times when things get really tough and you just need to think about something else. The whole of chapter 5 is dedicated to the often-neglected area of making your home a comfortable and comforting environment, whilst chapter 7 addresses taking charge of your healthcare via research. A favorite activity of mine in this section was creating a health binder containing everything from your medical records to a health journal.
This is just a very small sampling of advice and activities the book contains, including honest conversations with chronically ill people. If you are struggling to cope psychologically and/or practically with the everyday demands of your life, this book may well be for you – it certainly helped me and I continue to refer to it regularly even now. Let me know if you do read ‘Chronic Resilience’ – I would love to hear what you think of it and if it helps you too.