Category Archives: Life Challenges

LIVING WELL WITH CHRONIC MEDICAL ILLNESS – 8 Session Coaching Group

             ANNOUNCING: “LIVING WELL WITH CHRONIC MEDICAL ILLNESS”  –                                                         AN 8-SESSION COACHING GROUP

When you have a chronic medical illness, the changes you experience in your life can challenge your sense of who you are, diminish your quality of life and cause you to question what quality of life is possible for you now.

 But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

No matter how difficult your circumstances, it is always possible to find a way forward that will help to improve your quality of life.

In this group, you will have the opportunity to talk with other group members about what it’s like to live with chronic illness, yet the focus will be on more than  simply supporting each other, exchanging ideas and sharing stories.  You’ll also learn things psychologists have discovered about what helps people to live fulfilling lives, and you’ll complete exercises that will help you explore ways to apply that knowledge to your own life.

The goal of this group will be to help each member find alternate ways to live a fulfilling life, taking into account the many challenges created by chronic illness.

Since the group will meet via telephone  location and any mobility issues are not a concern. The group will meet twice a month for a total of 8 sessions. Meeting times will be decided on         the basis of group member availability.

If you’d like to learn more about this group and see if it’s right for you, please complete the contact form below.  If you’re  interested in the group, but can’t participate at this point in time, please submit the below form anyway, letting us know that you would like to be contacted when this group is offered in the future.

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Life With Chronic Illness

by Audrey Berger, Ph.D. – Coach at Turning Point Life Coaching

Life With Chronic Illness THE STRUGGLE

It challenges your sense of who you are and what you can do, your feelings of safety, your beliefs about what you can offer to others, and your hopes for the future. It lies in wait – often for years – and pounces at a time of its own choosing.  No matter when it appears, the timing is always bad. At first it often feels bewildering, leaving you wondering what it is, what to call it, how to understand it, and how to cope with it. And, even if you are finally able to give it a name, that doesn’t make it any less frightening or any more predictable.

Its impact on your day-to-day reality fluctuates. As its effect on your life ebbs and flows, waves of grief advance and recede again and again. It can steal so much of what you expected your life to be. It creates many unexpected challenges, and those challenges can create other challenges, in what may seem like a domino effect. There is no doubt that all human beings struggle at times, but it is the relentless and pervasive nature of these particular challenges and obstacles that distinguish them from many other life circumstances.

It is frequently invisible to everyone but you, making it difficult for people who know you to comprehend, and sometimes leaving you feeling like you are in this fight alone. It also separates you from others because you can’t plan your life in the same ways that they do. It is often hard to know how to move forward; because of how it can make life so unpredictable, sometimes it is difficult to even imagine what moving forward might look like.

This is life with chronic illness.

 THE PARADOX

No one is immune from sorrow triggered by the losses caused by chronic illness, but you can learn to ride the waves of grief. The irony of living with a chronic illness is that, for all it steals from you, it can also bestow some significant gifts. One of the most powerful paradoxes of chronic illness is the way that it can truly help you to develop a deep sense of gratitude. The on-going fluctuations in your life can actually enable you to recognize more clearly what is good in your life, which can help you to better focus on the very things that are known to contribute to emotional well-being.

It is also possible to find meaning in your struggle, and to develop a new or renewed sense of purpose in your life. It is possible to learn to persevere in the face of hardship and to develop more resilience and resourcefulness than you expected. But, in order for these things to occur, you have to decide that you want to find a better way forward. And, you have to refuse to be made helpless.

ANOTHER WAY FORWARD

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor E. Frankl

Give yourself compassion for your struggle and credit for your efforts. Reset your expectations, and reach for things that are more aligned with your current sense of purpose, capacities and circumstances. Feed your soul with things you love and that you are still able to do. Resist the temptation to compare your life with the lives of those who are healthy, which can only cause you deeper grief. Try instead to focus on what you do have, and on what you can accomplish and experience in your life. Recognize and celebrate the ways that you are able to triumph over your illness, and appreciate the times when you get a break from this battle. Reach out for other people – those who have similar struggles, and those who don’t. Give to others, and you will gain so much in return. And, never forget that the essence of who you are has nothing to do with chronic illness – you are so much more than your illness.

Has your life been changed by chronic illness? Share your experiences with others:

 What has been the most difficult challenge for you?                                                                              What have you learned about yourself from this experience?                                                               What has been helpful to you?

Will You Dance With Me?                                                            (Stratagems for navigating a life with a disease)

by Guest Blogger Alida Brill

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Will I go back to life? Will I be captain again?
If you can go back to life, if you can keep on being the captain on board, then life is fantastic, then life is an adventure, your own and unique adventure. You dance with life, you dance with the Universe.

From Invisible by Hugues De Montalembert

Image from Will You Dance With Me The strategies and techniques I’ve used to manage chronic disease have changed through the years. Now, I’m often introspective and reflective –rely less on the advice and optimism of friends — more on what I’ve gleaned from experience. Sometimes my brain takes a trip and speeds down a dangerous highway without exit ramps. Then I activate internal navigation systems.  I have no desire to wander off into a disorienting maze of emotions.

Music of all types is a fundamental tool in my survival kit. Music reminds me it’s worth the effort to fight back; it’s an effective non-medical Rx. I’ve listened to Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites for hours. When fears begin to overwhelm me, I listen to those Suites transcribed for the Double Bass, recorded by the extraordinary artist Edgar Meyer. This C.D. was a gift from a friend who is a classical double bassist (as well as many other things). Absorbing the mournful but affirming sounds of the Double Bass is a soothing act of listening but carries significance beyond Bach.

Dance, especially ballet, also transports me. Ballerinas float and fly through their sequences. What they do is so difficult yet their rigorous training makes impossible movements appear natural. Ballet often makes writing seem a hobbled excuse for creativity. Deeply buried is the eager little girl I once was, devotedly taking ballet lessons. Ballet composes a spectacle of life suspended above and beyond reality. I felt that as a child when I saw my first productions of Swan Lake and then SleepingBeauty.

Chronic illness has been the architect of my internal navigational systems as much as upbringing, cultural heritage, relationships and travel. As an unwell person, every new day demands I take a leap of faith to go forward — both sacred and secular. When someone untouched by illness asks why I bother to go on, I deflect the question. I doubt any explanation would make sense to those who need to inquire. I have an unshakable faith in many things — enduring friendship, health professionals who care, the majesty of words, the healing power of unconditional love, intimacy, theater, dance, music, the prayerful act of reading literature and poetry with serious intent. And I have gratitude for the surprises I have received along the way and savored.

Finally, there’s my singular truth: I refuse to be deafened to the symphony of living by the noisy power of a mysterious disease.

I gave up the quest for a simple and clean diagnosis years ago. I stopped dreaming about fleeting remissions. As I maneuver through it all, I search for new avenues toward grace and peace. My goal is to live, not just cope or survive. I’ve observed the world through a prism of illness. But I have retained images from times when disease has taken leave of me. Together they form a collage of experiences –people, places, dreams, stories, and visions.

I’ve seen courageous behavior in other patients, and in their loved ones and friends. For decades I’ve observed the concern and commitment present among members of the nursing profession. I’ve seen men and women who choose to triumph in their lives, even if they’ll never defeat disability or illness. I’ve been moved by acts of unexpected compassion. It’s not easy to accept a condition that won’t go away and that resides inside someone you love. Those who face down disease and disability with us, instead of abandoning or avoiding us, are my true heroes. Everyone is faced with challenges and disappointments. We develop systems of stable navigation to stay afloat. In better moments we conquer obstacles. I’ve learned to accept pain, and to welcome pleasure, to take delight in the day-to-day explorations of mind, time and place (even if only remembered or imaginary travels).

Remission occurs when disease disappears, as it sometimes does for shorter or longer periods. My remissions have become infrequent. I once called them vacations, now I call them interludes. Interludes don’t qualify as full remissions but do provide a respite from the awareness of disease. Interludes evoke perceptions and emotions distinct from those when I observe the world wearing a patient’s spectacles. However, times of wellness and of illness are equal truths in one valid existence – they’re not unrelated entities. They’ve had to become partners to create one whole life. It’s been worth the effort to sustain – this life has brought me to places of courage I couldn’t imagine I would find. It’s also brought tremendous disappointments, somehow survived. I’ve been granted often-renewed hope for the future, albeit with realistic parameters.

I retain a stubborn happiness about the hard job I call living each day, which appears to be as relentless a force inside me as disease.

Reprinted with permission of Alida Brill © 2011

[THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALIDA BRILL FOR ALLOWING THE TURNING POINT LIFE COACHING BLOG TO POST THIS POWERFUL, BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN PIECE.]

Alida BrillAlida Brill is a writer in New York City. She has atypical Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener’s). Her last book, Dancing At the River’s Edge: A Patient and her Doctor Negotiate Life With Chronic Illness, (Schaffner Press) is a dual-memoir written with her long-time doctor, Michael Lockshin, M.D. She is an activist and advocate for girls and women with autoimmune disease. She is currently at work on a new book, A Woman Across Time: Growing Up with Princess Grace, Barbie and Betty Friedan, scheduled for publication by Schaffner Press in 2015.

Book:

Dancing at the River's Edge

Dancing at the River’s Edge: A Patient and Her Doctor Negotiate Life with Chronic Illness by Alida Brill

Website:  From This Terrace