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How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers
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How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  615 ratings  ·  122 reviews
This life-affirming, instructive and thoroughly inspiring book is a must-read for anyone who is—or who might one day be—sick. And it can also be the perfect gift of guidance, encouragement, and uplifting inspiration to family, friends, and loved ones struggling with the many terrifying or disheartening life changes that come so close on the heels of a diagnosis of a chroni...more
Kindle Edition, 217 pages
Published (first published May 10th 2010)
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I have lived with chronic illness for the past 27 years and I have read lots of books about how to life a healthy life with an unhealthy body. This book would now be my top recommendation for anyone who has a chronic illness or who cares for someone who does. Author Toni Bernhard has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (as do I) and she doesn't sugarcoat how severe an illness this is. Her life was turned upside down, but she shares in this book the spiritual practices she uses to live her life as fully as...more
I have been told you don't have to know how to meditate or even be attracted to Buddhist beliefs, to be helped by this book. Anyone with a chronic illnes or who cares for another with a chronic illness should consider this book. This is a book for those people who have an illness that is not going to go away.

I am very reluctant to read self-help books. I just get out a piece of paper and pen and think while I jot down my thoughts. A dear friend suggested this to me. She said read a bit and see...more
I was unsure about this book initially because of its title. I found myself thinking " I don't want to know how to be sick, I want to figure out how to get well." However, after reading it, the only thing I did not care for about the entire book was its title and it has even grown on me. The book is Buddhist inspired. I found great help from it in spite of having essentially no knowledge about Buddhism. I plan on looking up some of the references to learn more, in fact.

Reading this book if you...more
"It’s easy to look back and see what a mistake it was to continue working while sick—it probably worsened my condition—but many people who have contracted a chronic illness have done the same. First, there’s the financial need to keep working. Second, there’s the utter disbelief that this is happening to you (reinforced by people telling you that you look just fine—people who don’t see you collapse on the bed as soon as you get home)"

"Part of the reality of chronic debilitating illness is contin...more
May 08, 2011 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Bevel
My dear friend Bev sent me this book, thank you Bev! I am not Buddhist, but I didn't feel that I needed to be in order to grasp the main points and gain insight from all of the lessons within. I think this book is perfect for all who are chronically ill, or care givers of the chronically ill, looking for a guide on how to better navigate and cope with the mental side of being ill. I know for me being chronically ill there is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness knowing you can't change the ph...more
Living with chronic illness is not for sissies and there is not a lot of resources that help you deal with anything beyond the actual physical condition. Most people think in terms of varying degrees of good health and death...very few consider the limbo of ill-health or living indefinitely with a terminal illness. Friends desert you, life as you knew it ceases, your activities are limited, you can no longer count on your body to perform on a daily basis, no one allows conversation about your co...more
An important book for anyone with chronic illness, but unfortunately not quite as applicable to me as I had hoped.
Full review:
This is probably the most important book I've ever read. For anyone who has a chronic illness, or takes care of someone who has a chronic illness, I can't imagine a better book. I keep it near me often & have it both on my Kindle and in print form so that I can mark the passages that resonate with me.

William has read parts of the book also and found that it not only affirms things we have both known (but sometimes forget when my flare-ups are at their worst) as well as new ways to cope and...more
Most of the problems I had with this book were nicely put into a paragraph in the last few pages so I can just quote it here:

Now, on a day when I start to sink into that "Why me?" mood, I turn it into "Why not me?" I, too, have health insurance. I, too, did not suffer financially when I had to stop working, other than having to tighten out budget. I, too, have the best of caregivers.

I had high hopes going into this, and that is perhaps my fault, but this is more of the same from the same people...more
This little book is a "MUST READ" for anyone with chronic issues (of which I have many). And it is the kind of book that one must not read at one sitting, though one will be tempted to do so. The compassion, the wisdom, the fellow-traveler warmth, the many suggestions and practices that Toni Bernhard offers need to be taken out one at a time, cherished, contemplated carefully, put to use in a mindful way. The book has become a dear friend at my bedside, offering comfort when I need it most. Alth...more
You don’t need to be suffering from a chronic health condition to benefit from this book. I originally bought this book for my mother, who suffers from chronic pain, and ended up reading it myself in a single day over the Christmas holidays. Probably one of the most practical and helpful Buddhist books I’ve ever read. A well-written, accessible manual of how to approach life when it doesn’t go the way we expect it to, something we can all relate to. I almost wish the title was something more alo...more
Beatrice Marie
The only reason I didn't give this book five stars is that is specialized. Hopefully you will never fall into the category of people living with a chronic illness, because that stinks. If you have, this is a must buy. She writes with much grace about the psychological and spiritual changes that she made in order to deal with her case of chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome. She uses Buddhist terminology to describe her path from anger to acceptance and from isolation to solitude.

Heather (DeathByBook)
This is a great book! Whether you have to cope with a chronic illness or just the chronic condition of being human, this book has something to offer. It is written in a non preachy way by a woman who knows what she is talking about. This is the first book of it's type that I have found helpful even when I am too unwell to get out of bed. It can be read in little parts or gobbled up whole. I keep it next to my bed for a refresher/reminder when my illness is weighing heavy and I forget "How to BE...more
My partner is quite impaired by a chronic condition about which the medical community knows little. The whole situation creates problems I really wouldn't have understood if I was simply watching a friend go through it. Do we try and talk about his condition to friends, to help them understand what's going on? Or do we keep our mouths shut because, let's face it, listening to people talk about their health problems is deadly boring (and if we had a choice, we would prefer to talk about something...more
Kara Kozla
I think that if you are ready that this book is an excellent tool. When I first got sick I might have thrown this book at you. I would have told you I wouldn't need it, that I was going to get better because I wasn't in the place to accept everything. Now, I wish I had this book a few months ago... maybe even 6 to 8 months ago. I think that once you start to accept what is going on this is a great lifeline to have. For each person, depending on how stubborn that person is (I took longer than som...more
Tamara Epps
This review is cross-posted at a href=" by Books

In How to be Sick Toni Bernhard tells of how she used her Buddhist faith and understanding to accept living with a chronic disability.

I had been looking forward to reading this book for a very long time (despite having it on my shelf for months before I got to it) as I really enjoy Bernhard’s column at Psychology Today in which she gives advice to those with chronic disabilities, and their carers, revolving a...more
Kelli (I'd So Rather Be Reading)
I've been living with chronic illness my entire life: I was born with a genetic immune deficiency which has worsened with age. Along with the immune deficiency, I have several other auto-immune conditions as well as a chronic pain syndrome. To look at me, you'd never know how sick I am: I look perfectly fine on the outside. People like me are said to have "invisible illnesses." We are often misunderstood by family members, friends, even health professionals (for those of us with rare conditions,...more
I am not sick, so this seems a strange book for me to be reading, but Toni is a friend and I wanted to be supportive. I knew Toni when our kids were in the jazz choir and we went on trips as chaperones together. She and her husband Tony (yes--Toni/Tony) were lovely people and we enjoyed spending time with them. But we hadn't seen them in many years, which was not really surprising, given that we don't cross paths with most of the people we know from our kids' school days any more.

I ran into her...more
Dec 17, 2011 Jennifer rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pw chronic illness who are stuck in a cycle of despair & are comforted by others' suffering stories
Recommended to Jennifer by: lots of people with MCS
Plenty to say about this. Just not sure I can do it tactfully. A good book for some people, especially when you are bogged down with despair and don't know how to get out. It does give some good strategies for beginners of the whole "you choose your emotions" school of thought or Buddhist concepts in general (of which I'm a beginner, myself). But it might not be so helpful for those who are determined to heal and aren't really interested in fulfilling others' needs to have their suffering storie...more
Katherine   Reynolds
How To Be Sick is a must read for anyone dealing with a chronic illness. This book was extremely important for me when I first fell ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome aka Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the fall of 2009. Toni and I share the same illness. Her book has taught me many practice techniques which help me cope with this baffling and cruel disease. I am also grateful that she is willing to write honestly about how hard this illness is to deal with on a day to day basis. I have read and rer...more
A beautiful and clearly written book about living with chronic illness and the use of Buddhist principles in dealing with illness. Toni is a long-time Buddhist who was suddenly laid low with a "flu" that never went away. She went from being a law teacher to being bed-ridden; the book was born from her experience of learning to use the principles of Buddhist practice to help her not just to cope but to live well with chronic illness.

One does not have to be Buddhist-- or even spiritually-minded--...more
Sara Habein
I'd wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone dealing with chronic illness, but especially those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, lupus, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, or any other complex condition that is not easily treated. I'm glad I finally read it, and it's one I'll be referring to every time I need a little extra help.

(My full review can be found on Glorified Love Letters.)
As a woman suffering with chronic illness, just as Toni has suffered, this book opened my eyes to possibilities of how I could cope with my feelings. Her honest recollections of how she rode a rough ride through the medical community who had little or no answers for her illness. Her Buddhist Inspired writing, and explanations can bring the reader to a different place. A place where acceptance sounds possible. A musr read for anyone suffering with illness and their caregivers
Terry Crawford Palardy
I have the book HOW TO BE SICK by Toni Bernhard, kindle version. It is an excellent read for people with a chronic, debilitating disease, and for those who love them. One does not need to be an experienced believer in Buddhism as Toni does a great job of explaining each practice, to the benefit of the reader. Highly recommend this book. I will never really be "finished" with this book ... it will be a go-to when I need to remind myself of the practices within.
I've been studying Buddhism for the past year. This book shows how to establish some practices to aid in dealing with the many issues which arise in dealing with chronic illness. I instantly could identify with the author and how much her life has changed after becoming chronically ill with a mysterious virus from which she has never recovered.

She shows me a way to get my mind off of self-defeating and harmful thoughts surrounding my own changes in circumstances brought on by Post Polio Syndrom...more
Barbara Storey
This book is one of the most inspiring, most helpful books I have ever read. As soon as I heard of it, I knew I had to read it, and the Buddhist philosophy and the practices Toni explains have helped me beyond measure in coping with living with chronic illness. If you are chronically ill, if you know someone who is, or you care for someone who is, you should read this book. Indispensable.
Beautiful book. The techniques Toni outlines are powerful tools for people struggling after feeling steamrolled by chronic illness. Compassionate, genuinely helpful. Toni draws upon Buddhist techniques but it doesn't matter if you aren't Buddhist. The good thing is that there are abundant guided meditations on YouTube for those who are interested in trying them out. Since reading the book, I have used guided meditation to get through many a tough day. Some days, I will use the technique more tha...more
I thought Toni's book was well-worth the read even though we do not share the same worldview or sprititual belief systems.

There was much in it that I could incorporate into my own Christ-follower belief system.

One of the greatest lessons I walked away with from her book was that I need to be my own self-advocate and structure my life in a way that is beneficial to me because I will be of no value to myselve or anyone else if I don't. And her example of self-advocating at the hospital was so pow...more
This was an absolutely wonderful book. I don't have an extensive knowledge of Buddhist ways of thinking, so it was really a lot of new ways to look at life for me. The author's writing is so honest and approachable, it's really clear that she is "one of us", ie. someone who is struggling along with chronic illness as well. Because of this she is extremely empathetic and never judgmental.

The entire book was great and full of various techniques that are very much applicable in day to day life. Sh...more
This is THE VERY BEST BOOK I'VE READ ON HOW TO LIVE WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS. It gives practical advice, a new way of thinking, a way to feel like your life has meaning. After losing your job, your friends, the things you used to enjoy, life can feel unbearably bleak. It's especially frustrating when you hear things such as, "well, you LOOK fine" or "it's all in your head", etc. --- Events such as a friend misunderstanding when you have to cancel plans or you can't physically do the things asked of...more
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I'm the author of the award-winning "How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers." My new book is titled "How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow." Until forced to retire due to illness, I was a law professor at the University of California—Davis, serving six years as the dean of students. My popular blog, “Turning Straw Int...more
More about Toni Bernhard...
How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow Viaje Hacia El Despertar

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