In 2015, I published my first book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey. It is a combination autobiography, self-help, education book that provides treatment options, coping strategies, skills for daily living, and tools for managing the physical and emotional challenges of life with a chronic health condition. I wrote this book for patients, caregivers, and doctors because I have lived with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, for 20 years and there are very few resources available that address the totality of living with this disorder and other chronic health conditions above and beyond just physical symptoms.
I did not want others to go through the same intense suffering I did. For years I dealt with terrible pain, depression, anxiety, changes to work and social life, financial distress, and the disability process. It wasn’t easy finding the best doctors and treatments and trying to find my place in the world. I compiled a ton of strategies for dealing with these and many other aspects of life with dystonia and other health conditions.
Ever since that book was published, many people told me I should write a second book because of how much the first one helped them. To my surprise, this was not just from people who have dystonia. I am often told by people that if they replace the word “dystonia” with what they are dealing with in life, it would be as if it were written for them; and for many of them, it is not just a health condition they are talking about. It is about a multitude of everyday life challenges and various forms of adversity.
As I heard this more and more from people who were going through all sorts of things such as divorce and other relationship issues, difficulty with work or work-life balance, stress, life transitions, and of course health conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cancer, heart disease, movement disorders, addiction, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Meniere’s disease, fibromyalgia, and celiac disease, to name just a few, I knew I had to write a new book.
It is called, Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges, and was published in March of 2021. While a few topics overlap my first book, the vast majority is new information I have learned in the past six years since the publication of the original book.
To move beyond pain and suffering does not necessarily mean to be without pain and suffering. It means learning how to work with physical and/or emotional pain so that we can keep it from being the most dominant force in our lives. Life comes at us quickly and sometimes we have to walk through doors that are very difficult, so it is of great help to have tools in place for challenges we are experiencing in the moment, and for the unpredictable stressors in life, such as financial distress, trauma, pain, diseases and other illnesses, relationship issues, fear, depression, anxiety, and grief.
This book provides tools and strategies for how to cope and manage these situations and move beyond the pain and suffering they bring, be it physical, emotional, or both. It teaches how to not make the most difficult parts of our lives the most significant part of our lives. In a nutshell, this book provides strategies for how to live a high quality life in the face of adversity, pain, and suffering that is part of everyone’s life and make the very best of difficult life circumstances and situations.
We often feel alone when we are going through a painful life experience because we can’t imagine anyone else could possibly understand us. This is far from the truth as you will read in this book. It is an honest account of many life challenges you face each day. It addresses the light and dark side of adversity in an honest manner, with the intent to acknowledge you, offer understanding, provide hope, and help you find meaning in your life that transcends any obstacle. If we stand tall in our pain and suffering, this is how we get through it, and this book will guide you along the way.