An active, overachieving nineteen-year-old’s college education was diverted by a crash course in investigating diagnoses and scaling back life plans after crushing exhaustion, cognitive difficulties, and other symptoms developed following a cold. Crash she nearly did because of disbelieving doctors and treatments that harmed more than helped and the near failure of her family and faith to offset the damage.
What didn’t fail was her determination to have a meaningful life despite her invisible illness. She continued her studies and career preparation for two years even as symptoms multiplied and worsened, plunging her into depression and guilt for depending on others. Once she received a tentative and later certain diagnosis of an incurable condition, she rebuilt a life that gave her what she valued: the ability to help others and financial security.
This memoir may not end with a heartwarming recovery. However, the crash course taught seven lessons that every young person with a chronic illness or invisible disability should know. Among all the noise about how to start living a healthy lifestyle, here is a distinct voice on how to start living a chronically ill lifestyle.
“Filled with wisdom, practical advice, and a detailed illustration of what patients experience.” —Leonard A. Jason, PhD, Professor of Psychology, DePaul University
"With clarity and insight, Ms. Nagel provides a revelatory message about illness: Despite our cultural emphasis on vanquishing disease, many of us will need to learn to live with, rather than overcome, chronic illness." —Dorothy Wall, author, Encounters with the Invisible
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: I’m Not Just Tired vi
Chapter One: The Shadow Descends 1
Chapter Two: Medicines Fail to Lighten the Shadow 25
Chapter Three: Supplements Fail to Lighten the Shadow 45
Chapter Four: Naming the Shadow 63
Chapter Five: The Shadow Grows Heavier 103
Chapter Six: Lightening the Shadow 141
Appendix A: Seven Lessons for Living with a Chronic Illness 152
Appendix B: Resources for People with ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia 153
About the Author 155