• Dear Grace Q & A: How Do I Explain That My Chronic Illness & Life Aren’t a Tragedy?

    “What is a simple way of explaining the concept of living well with chronic illness to other people? People without chronic illness seem to find it difficult to understand that I don’t view my life as an awful tragedy…and it takes a long time explaining why I don’t feel that way.” Let’s begin by considering your audience. It helps to meet people where they are because its easier for them and our results will likely be more successful too.  Consider the potential mindset of the person you are wanting to understand this. It’s harder to make ourselves clear to someone if we are focused only on what we want to…

  • Diagnosis: A New View

    It is the moment which changes your life. Sometimes it feels like it is the moment which ends it. The life you knew is gone, you are AD – After Diagnosis, your own new millennium. Diagnosis can feel like your carefully planned and treasured life burning up around you. That you can see things changing, feel them shifting, but are helpless to stop it. Diagnosis feels like a fire moving through our lives, consuming all we hold dear, burning our very selves, our image, who we are, and leaving us with little but pain and ash – where there used to be hopes, plans and a maybe not perfect, but…

  • Book Review: In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions by Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

    Dr Larry Berkelhammer first appeared on GraceQuantock.com in a Trail Blazer Interview (here). A psychotherapist, author and researcher, Dr. Berkelhammer believes millions of people who live with chronic medical conditions can manage their pain through various mind-training techniques. As a sought-after teacher on pain management, and with 19 years in private practice treating patients, Dr. Berkelhammer’s interview resonated with the GraceQuantock.com community. Now, his book, In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions (Empowered Patient Coalition Press, Jan. 2014, 978-0991243709) has arrived, and it’s one that connects just as deeply. Dr. Larry Berkelhammer lives with seven chronic illnesses himself and has made it his mission to help others…

  • Living Well With Fatigue

    Do you consistently have enough energy? No? You aren’t alone. And while this isn’t a bulleted, 10-point-quick-fix article full of ginseng and grandiose promises, it is one neatly packed with valuable concepts to add some pep to your step. These thoughtful approaches have helped me live well, with fatigue and chronic illness for over 10 years, while earning a degree and building two thriving businesses. Living with illness that features symptomatic fatigue often leaves me too exhausted to sit up or turn over in bed. That same exhaustion may also have me regard basic tasks with a humdrum eye, “I don’t feel up to doing that right now…maybe I’ll try later…

  • Claiming Compassion…For Yourself

    “Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” ~Susan Sontag Be compassionate to your healing body, and your loving soul. To do so, to accept it, is the very essence of being human. And by allowing self- compassion, you free yourself from the inevitable exhaustion of straining to escape it. Pain ebbs and flows. Struggles arise and fall. They needn’t be set upon like they are…

  • Relaxation Rehabilitation Part Four: How to Rest and Make it Fun

    Lying down and doing nothing can be what is needed but sometimes our brains feel like they are racing and we need a gentle activity. Here are some suggestions: 1. Sanctuary. Imagine an inner safe place where you can go and feel calm, go there now. 2. Senses. Use relaxing sensory experiences. What is relaxation to you? What invokes relaxation and the sensation of ease? It could be falling asleep,the knowledge of nothing to do, a massage, a hug, a warm bath, the smell of clean linen, candle light, the sea and the beach. whatever it is for you, create or invoke it to relax today. Use smell, taste, colour and imagery.…

  • Relaxation Rehabilitation Part Three: Solutions for Resting Problems

    * When you struggle to switch your mind off try using mindfulness techniques. Observe the thoughts, the desires, the intense need to sit up and write something down or just look at that. Watch the flood of emotions, guilt, frustration, fear, unworthiness all come up and pass away. Let it all happen. It’s not you, you are the space in between the thoughts. * When you stick with it, the thoughts and tension begin to ease. At the beginning it can be very painful as the secondary tension related pain in the muscles releases. This passes and blood flows more easily. Remember in this difficult moment, you are helping your…

  • Relaxation Rehabilitation Part Two: The Great Big Fear

    Illness can be uncomfortable and messy. Rest can seem boring. Before I reframed my thinking, when I was resting I felt sick. I had to rest, I could not carry on with whatever activity I was doing. I came face to face with the reality of the sickness. We get scared, and we are scared of losing dignity, life, hope, purpose, independence, and respect. And yet we are overcoming that fear every day we live with illness, or that we live as a survivor of illness. We are so much more, because of overcoming all this; not less. The fact that we are still managing to keep on even with…

  • Relaxation Rehabilitation: Part One

    I don’t know about you but I need more rest. I’d write that I lack rest but really the problem is the over-fullness. What I am lacking is nothingness, space, peace. I have been holding resentment around rest, and that makes it ineffective as well as unenjoyable. Rest is not something which is spoken about much in our societies. Maybe resting isn’t as glamourous as planning out your dream life, striving towards it, overcoming odds or fighting for your goals. But rest is essential, and it is in that space that the flowers and fruits of our labours blossom. (Click to Tweet!) Attitudes to In-Action Sometimes it can feel like…

  • Living With Disability and Starting A Business: It Can Be Done!

    I live with disability. I receive government benefits. I work and own two companies. I am not the stereotypical face of “Benefits Britain” * but I am a part of its reality. My business is my story. Those who have been following me for a while have seen the beautiful growth of the Trail Blazing Wellness movement. From struggling to live to actually being able to – and then allowed! – to work (my first business email was titled, “I’m Legal, Celebrate With Me”) and finally, managing my professional business load with a fluctuating condition. It has been a long, arduous, yet wonderful journey, one that is still new and different every single day. (Click to…

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