Lightening the Shadow: Diagnosing and Living with an Invisible Chronic Illness

Lightening the Shadow: Diagnosing and Living with an Invisible Chronic Illness

by Darla Nagel


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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692149492
Publisher: Darla Nagel
Publication date: 09/06/2018
Pages: 166
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

Darla Nagel is a copyeditor and writing tutor from Michigan. She blogs for people with chronic illnesses and their supporters at

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

Bibliography 149

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

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