Rethinking Chronic Illness | Health | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Rethinking Chronic Illness 

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click to enlarge AMANDA CROMMETT
  • Amanda Crommett

"It's easy for those of us who are on this path of exploring healing to get superconsumed with that. What's the perfect diet? It's constantly looking for the next thing that can heal us." Of course, we can pursue healthy practices, but we need to do it with a sense of balance, says Stack—and we need to recognize that some things are beyond our control. "Explore and do what you can, but do it from a nourishing, wholesome place of acceptance and self-love." It's insights like these that Stack will expand upon in her forthcoming book, Flourishing with Chronic Illness, which draws from the ways she's helped clients (and herself) to create a deep and satisfying experience of life, even through major challenges.

In Good Company

Having a chronic illness can be very isolating, says Stack, but with a little reframing it can also be a source of profound connection. Cashel and Lupinacci agree. "There's real power when you bring people together with different diagnoses," says Cashel about their "Suffering the Silence" web community and portrait project. "We want to create dialogue and raise awareness as a larger community rather than a fragmented one."

They also want to help reveal what are often not just silent illnesses, but also invisible ones. "When you have symptoms like fatigue or joint pain, people can easily brush them off," says Lupinacci. "Sometimes you look physically fine, and that makes it hard for them to picture you as ill or incapable of doing things. That lack of disability in your appearance can affect people's ability to understand what you're going through." After breaking her own silence, Lupinacci feels that she has become a better advocate for herself, identifying what kind of support she needs from doctors, family, and friends. For Cashel, coming out about Lyme helped her come to terms with what she has gone through and claim it as part of her identity—as well as part of a larger collective of people. Her conclusion? "We're in this together."

RESOURCES

Allie Cashel/Erica Lupinacci Sufferingthesilence.com

Richard Horowitz, MD Cangetbetter.com

Kelly Stack Kellystack.com

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