Moving from Survive to Thrive
Some balance and dizziness disorders are chronic conditions. Learning how to better cope with a chronic condition can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as bring symptoms under control.
The notion of ‘surviving or thriving' in relation to a chronic condition, where there are good days and bad days, perhaps requires a shift in thinking. While we all have the potential to survive despite ill health, sometimes simply surviving the day equals success! Can we accept that thriving might occur in only certain areas of our lives and only at certain times?
Learning to live with chronic conditions takes time and enormous energy. It inevitably means confronting feelings of loss, which in our society – focused so resolutely on happiness, success, beauty and achievement – is most challenging.
We are brought up to show a ‘happy face’ and are not encouraged to explore our negative feelings. For this reason, even though having a chronic condition is something to feel negatively about, it is extremely difficult to express it. We tend to justify our silence, but silence itself can increase our suffering. Although we see a balance of 'light' and 'dark'in nature, we try desperately to avoid the darker side of life. But if we continually hold in our negative feelings, sometimes they can overwhelm us.
Part of living with a chronic condition means having to adjust and readjust to change – sometimes one day will hold many such changes – causing a rollercoaster effect to both our body and our emotions. While we have to tolerate the physical changes, we can most definitely address and shift the emotional ones, like depression or anxiety.
Key points to remember:
- All of our feelings are valid, can be acknowledged, and can be understood by others.
- We all need help from the beginning to the end of our lives, and we should be gentle with ourselves.
- We all are lovable and deserve to be supported and cared for – in order for this to happen, we must reach out.
- We all experience both intense emotional joy and pain in our lives, for this is part of what it is to be human.
- It is a myth to think that we are ever truly independent. We all need and support each other all our lives. We are all a good mix of weak, strong, dependent and independent.
Many people with vestibular disorders experience dizziness-related depression - find more information on our Dealing With Depression page.
Mindfulness-Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction
An eight-week online course utilizing elements of deep breathing, yoga, relaxation, and meditation to reframe your relationship with tinnitus. A study showed this program, “may be an effective intervention for treating chronic tinnitus and its comorbid symptoms, and may help reduce depression and phobic anxiety while improving social functioning and overall mental health.”
Positive Coping with Health Conditions: A Self-Care Workbook [PDF] by Drs. Dan Bilsker, Joti Samra and Elliot Goldner
A self-care manual authored by scientist-practitioners at SFU with expertise in issues relating to coping with health conditions. The workbook [PDF] and accompanying Relaxation Method Audio [MP3 File] can be downloaded free-of-charge. Print copies and audio CDs are also available.
Stop, Breathe, Think
A free, simple tool to guide people of all ages and backgrounds through mindful meditation. Access online or as an iOS or Android app.
Available for loan through public libraries in BC – if your local library does not own a copy of a title that interests you, ask for it to be sent from another library through interlibrary loan. Also see our page on Vestibular Books.
The Alchemy of Illness
by Kat Duff (1993)
Reflecting on her own experience with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, and integrating insights from psychology, religion, and other disciplines, a counselor sheds new light on the meaning of illness, recovery and healingReflecting on her own experience with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, and integrating insights from psychology, religion, and other disciplines, a counselor sheds new light on the meaning of illness, recovery and healing.
Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness by Jerome E. Groopman (2004)
Why do some people find and sustain hope during difficult circumstances, while others do not? With appreciation for the human elements and the science, Dr. Groopman explains how to distinguish true hope from false hope – and how to gain an honest understanding of the reach and limits of this essential emotion.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan J Jeffer (1987)
In this enduring guide to self-empowerment, Dr. Susan Jeffers outlines techniques and concepts that have helped many people grab hold of their fears and move forward with their lives.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD (revised and updated 2013)
The classic work on mindfulness, meditation, and healing. Kabat-Zinn is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown (2010)
An expert of the psychology of shame presents advice on how to overcome paralyzing fears and self-consciousness, and at the same time increase feelings of self-worth, gratitude and acceptance.
Invisible Illnesses and Disabilities by Sharon E. Smith (1998)
An inspiring story of a young woman who learned to rebuild her life by learning to live with a non-terminal, life-altering situation.
Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions by Kate Lorig DrPH (Canadian 4th edition, 2013)
Tips, suggestions and strategies to deal with chronic illness and symptoms. Originally based on a five-year study conducted at Stanford University, this work has grown to include the feedback of medical professionals and people with chronic conditions all over the world, including Canada.
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman (2011)
Offers simple and straightforward forms of mindfulness meditation – based on the techniques of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chödrön (1994)
With insight and humour, Chödrön presents down-to-earth guidance on how we can "start where we are"—embracing rather than denying the painful aspects of our lives.
When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön (2000)
A treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Companion title: The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (2001). Also available on CD.
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn (updated 10th anniversary edition, 2005)
Explains how anyone can use mindfulness to reduce anxiety, achieve inner peace, find fulfillment and enrich one's life. Accompanied by a series of anecdotes, instructions and meditations. Also available on CD.
You Don’t Look Sick!: Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness by Joy H. Selak (2005)
Chronicles a patient’s true-life accounts and her physician’s compassionate commentary as they take a journey through the three stages of chronic illness: getting sick, being sick, and living well.