When you tell a healthy person that you’re bedbound, a common reaction is, “I bet you’re really up-to-date on TV and movies!” And I did spend a lot of time early in my illness catching up on the years’ worth of programming I had missed while I was busy establishing my career. However, it turns out there is a limit to how long you can binge watch shows before you feel like turning the TV off permanently.
Fortunately, there are a lot of other interesting and fun things you can do to occupy your time without leaving your bed. I’ve been mostly bedbound for about 9 months now due to ME/CFS, POTS, and EDS, and housebound for more than a year and a half. Surprisingly, I very seldomly experience boredom. My entertainment options are limited more by my fatigue than by what’s accessible to me from my bed. Here are a few ideas to help you stave off boredom, whether you’re bedbound for a few days or many years.
I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember, so it was frustrating when my illness caused cognitive impairment that made it very difficult to comprehend written text. But then I discovered audiobooks. I found out that my local library has thousands of audiobooks available to download, and I immediately began devouring book after book. Exploring new worlds and making new friends in my favorite characters helped me feel less lonely and depressed. Even now, a year and a half later, this remains my primary form of entertainment to stave off boredom.
The library is a great place to start if you’ve never tried audiobooks before, but there are many other resources too. You can get an Audible subscription, buy audiobooks on iTunes or the Kindle store, or download public domain books narrated by volunteers for free at Librivox.
Recently, while I was at the back door to let my dog outside, something in the night sky grabbed my attention. There was a very bright orange dot next to the moon. Guessing that it might be Mars, I pulled out my phone to look it up. The website EarthSky confirmed that I had indeed spotted our neighboring planet, and if I turned around and looked to the southwest, I should be able to see Venus and Jupiter too. And sure enough, there they were!
I’ve always appreciated a beautiful full moon and twinkling stars, but I never put much effort into actually identifying and learning about them. Since that chance sighting of Mars, though, I have a newfound interest in what’s happening in the sky, and it’s amazing how much you can see through your bedroom window.
If you don’t have easy access to a window, the app Sky Guide has you covered – simply tilt your mobile device toward your ceiling and it provides an interactive view of what’s in the sky above you right now. (Available for iOS.)
3. Watch wildlife and nature out your window
You don’t have to live in a forest to appreciate nature from your bed. As a suburbanite, I’m not likely to see many coyotes or bears in my backyard, but there is plenty of activity out there to keep me from boredom. Hummingbirds zoom in and out of the yard, rabbits leave footprints in the snow as they dart from one shrub to another, and goldfinches hang upside down from sunflower heads to get to the seeds.
If nature won’t come to your window, though, there are still ways to appreciate it. To encourage visitors, try setting up birdfeeders near your window. Or why not go on a virtual nature hike on YouTube? There are even online groups that cater to nature lovers who can’t get into the great outdoors due to illness or injury.
4. Nurture something living
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t this supposed to be for people who are bedbound? I can’t take care of a pet!” And you’re right, many pets do take a lot of time, attention, and energy to care for. But some require very little maintenance and are inexpensive. Consider getting a pet goldfish, hermit crab, gecko, small bird, mouse or hamster, or a praying mantis or other insect. This may require a little help from a caregiver to clean their cage regularly, so be sure to do your research before buying a new critter.
You can also treat a plant as a pet, taking care to water it and feed it just the right amount, trimming away dead leaves, and yes, even talking to it. Building a terrarium can offer hours of entertainment and keep boredom at bay as you carefully select and place the different plants and decorate it with pretty rocks, gnomes, or tiny fairy houses.
Being responsible for the wellbeing of a living thing can provide companionship, entertainment, and make you feel important and useful during a time when you’re not able to care for all of your own needs.
5. Express yourself
Laying in bed for an extended period gives you time to reflect. It makes you more aware of your surroundings, and of what’s going on inside you. You may start to feel like your thoughts, feelings, wishes, fears, and questions about life are getting bottled up, so why not give them an outlet?
The options for expressing yourself are almost endless. Do you like writing? Try keeping a journal, starting a blog, or writing poetry or even a novel. If photography is more your thing, you may enjoy capturing mundane things around you in new ways and from different perspectives. Or if you prefer to make videos, you could make a documentary about your life in bed, interview a friend or family member, or make your own YouTube channel. You can turn your feelings and experiences into artwork by drawing, painting, or sculpting with air dry clay. Let your creative juices flow!
6. Learn something new
Have you ever wanted to learn how to knit, speak Spanish, or play an instrument, but could never find the time for it? Well, now’s your chance!
YouTube has no end of videos explaining how to do just about anything you could imagine, and there are thousands of TED Talks that cover fascinating topics you’ve probably never even thought of before. (If that sounds daunting, you might want to start with “The Most Popular Talks of All Time”. On Craftsy, you can watch step-by-step guides on sewing, quilting, embroidery, and many other types of crafts. And what could be more satisfying than taking a college class without having to worry about exams? Check out free online courses that can be found on sites such as Coursera, Udemy, and edX.
Now you can amaze your friends with all your diverse knowledge!
7. Train your brain
Another great way to keep your mind sharp and ease boredom is by playing puzzles. Do a crossword or word search, solve a few sudoku grids, or break out a deck of cards for some solitaire. There are also tons of brain training games available online, such as Lumosity or Elevate.
Remember, though, that mental exertion can be just as taxing as physical exertion for many Chargies, so be sure to give your brain frequent rests.
After I made the difficult decision to stop working, I felt like I had very little to contribute to the world. I wasn’t making any money to support myself, I couldn’t leave my house, and I was too fatigued to even have visitors. I was just sort of existing.
But then an opportunity arose to volunteer my time in a way that worked with my limited energy levels. A local church had recently started an online ministry, and after I had been attending for a while, the pastor asked if I would like to serve as an online chat host during the services. I accepted, and immediately felt a sense of belonging and purpose. Now, over a year later, I still love logging in to the service from the comfort of my bed every Sunday morning. I feel like I’m contributing to something that matters, and I’ve made a lot of new friends.
Most places that need volunteers are thrilled when someone offers even a couple hours of their time here and there, and they’ll often find a way for you to help that works for you. To find a volunteering opportunity that’s right for you, ask around at your favorite nonprofit organizations or advocacy groups for chronic illnesses, or check out Volunteer Match.
9. Go on a virtual vacation
You may not be able to leave your bed, but you can still plan your dream vacation. Just pick your destination and off you go! Think about what time of year to go; a warm sunny beach in February while snow piles up at my house sounds good to me! Research the sights you want to see while you’re there, and which restaurants can’t be missed. Use Google Earth to explore the world in 3D. Watch travel videos about your destination, and use your library’s online catalogue to check out books about the local customs and culture.
The best part is that planning a trip is completely free, so go crazy and pick the fanciest suite at that 5-star hotel!
10. Pamper yourself
Chances are, if you’re bedbound, you’re probably not taking a lot of bubbles baths, and going to the salon is definitely out of the question. But there are still ways to make yourself feel pampered without leaving your bed.
Shop online for new super cozy pajamas and socks, or splurge on some high thread count bed linens and a fuzzy blanket. To create your own spa experience, ask a friend or caregiver to bring you a basin of warm water with Epsom salts mixed in so you can soak your hands and feet. Follow that up with a pumice stone, ultra-moisturizing lotion, and some nail polish to make the mani-pedi complete. Then give yourself a luxurious facial with warm towels, a soothing facial mask, and nourishing serum and moisturizer.
Little self-care treats like these often go by the wayside when you have major health concerns, but you may be surprised by how much a few minutes of TLC can help you feel relaxed and comforted.
Have you tried any of these activities? What other things do you like to do when leaving your bed is not an option?
About the Author:
Molly Rice is an instructional designer, college instructor, and former pharmacy technician who is currently bedbound and unable to work due to chronic illness. She is active in her church’s online ministry and several chronic illness support groups. She enjoys listening to audiobooks, sitting outside on sunny days, and cuddling with her dogs. Molly has ME/CFS, POTS, and EDS.
Chronic illness isn’t a topic that seems to heavily feature in television shows and movies. At least, that was what I thought before I started research for this article. It turns out there are shows, movies and documentaries out there featuring chronic illness, and I was keen to see how accurately it was represented in a world of fairy tale endings and happily-ever-afters. I was reassured to find that there are some shows that don’t shy away from the hard-hitting reality of life with chronic illness. This article specifically focuses on Netflix shows and these are my thoughts on the ones I watched, including:
Alexa and Katie
Brain on Fire
The Fundamentals of Caring
Kiss and Cry
Degrassi: Next Class
Gaga: Five Foot Two
My Beautiful Broken Brain
Be Here Now
Caution: CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
Alexa and Katie
Alexa and Katie is an American teen series following the lives of Alexa, who has been diagnosed with cancer, and her best friend Katie. Season one premiered on Netflix in March 2018 and the show has been renewed for a second season. Given that this was a teen show, set in an American high school, I was dubious about what the show could offer someone in their late twenties like myself. However, I did find myself enjoying it.
The humour is questionable at times, but it did have some laugh-out-loud moments and the underlying message was beautiful. It focuses on the struggles of living with illness as a young person and how the support of a friend can be life-changing in that situation. Alexa hides her illness for fear of being treated differently, something which I think all of us can relate to on some level. The show follows her struggle to live a ‘normal’ life whilst also taking care of her health. This is something else I think is very relatable to everyone with a chronic illness.
The show is a clichéd American teen show, but the underlying message is fantastic, and the positivity shown by Alexa is commendable. There are some hard-hitting moments when your heart breaks to watch Alexa miss out on life because of her illness; however, the show is mostly humorous, so it doesn’t dig too deep into the more difficult side of chronic illness. I will be interested to see what happens in season two and much to my own surprise, I will be keeping an eye out for its premiere. If you want something easy to watch which keeps things light hearted, whilst not shying away from some of the difficulties presented by living with a chronic illness as a young person, then give this a go.
Brain on Fire
Of all the shows recommended by Chargies and the Unchargeables team to watch for this article, I was dreading this one the most. I watched the trailer for this film when it first came onto Netflix in June 2018 and decided it would be too close to home, too hard to watch. My husband watched the film while away on holiday earlier in the year and he said it hit very close to home for him and it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch. It was therefore added to my ‘do not watch’ list because I didn’t think I could face it. However, I am so glad I had to watch this as part of my research for this article.
Brain on Fire is based on the true story of Susannah Cahalan, who released her memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness in 2012. The film follows Susannah, an up and coming journalist working in her dream job, living her ‘best life’ in New York. Seemingly from nowhere, Susannah develops an array of symptoms such as voices in her head, seizure, and hypersensitivity to sound. The film follows her story as she desperately tries to find a cause for her symptoms.
The struggle to have doctors take her seriously, let alone obtain an accurate diagnosis, is heartbreakingly relatable for so many of us with chronic illness. Susannah is misdiagnosed, told her symptoms are all in her head, and is written off by almost every medical professional she meets. Her symptoms deteriorate, and her family and boyfriend keep desperately fighting for answers. This film was difficult to watch because it is a reminder that medicine still has a long way to go and too many medical professionals still fail to investigate symptoms when there is no obvious cause for them. It was incredibly emotional to watch Susannah be told it was ‘all in her head’ and become a shell of her former happy, healthy self.
The film also tackles issues such as how difficult chronic illness can be for loved ones and how the support of loved ones can shine a light even in total despair. It also looks at how employers deal with chronic illness, although Susannah was fortunate to have an understanding employer who supported her.
This true story shows that all it takes is one doctor to change a life, even if all others doubt you. This is an issue which I am sure will strike close to home for many people with chronic illness and I advise you have tissues on hand to watch this film. Susannah eventually does find answers when she is diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. Finally, she goes on to rebuild her life. She has since been involved in raising awareness of the condition, which was previously misdiagnosed in 90% of cases, according to information shared at the end of the film.
The film highlights the importance of sharing your story, no matter what that story may be. It is also a reminder that even after the diagnosis of a chronic illness, you are still you, just a stronger version of you. The film is hard-hitting. At points I genuinely sobbed, but it is also a story of hope, love and strength which I think anyone with a chronic illness will strongly relate to.
Unrest is a documentary following PhD student Jennifer Brea as she battles Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). Jennifer started documenting her life to cope with her diagnosis and the debilitating symptoms of her illness.
Jennifer fell very ill shortly after getting married and the documentary accurately depicts the struggle of a newly married couple coming to terms with a life-altering diagnosis and all that comes with that. It is extremely relatable to those of us with a chronic illness and tackles the grief, loss and heart break that come with losing your health. It is a stark reminder that life, and health, are extremely fragile and should not be taken for granted.
The documentary discusses the harm of misdiagnosis and the controversial opinion of many medical professionals that M.E/CFS is psychological rather than physical. Jennifer campaigns to bring more awareness to the illness and in doing so speaks with people from all over the globe who are also battling the condition. She does this via Skype and video interviews as she is bed bound for a large portion of time during filming.
The documentary does not shy away from sensitive topics such as suicidal thoughts, whether to have children, and the loss of her quality of life and the future she had hoped for. It also tackles the issue of females being less likely to be believed by medical professionals or not taken seriously due to the hysteria phenomenon. It accurately reflects chronic fatigue and the impact chronic illness has on a marriage or relationship. The documentary also shows the terrifying attitude some countries have towards illnesses that cannot be seen, such as M.E. It features the story of Karina, a young woman removed from her home by authorities in Denmark and effectively held captive for over three years in a psychiatric facility. It also features people living all over the world, which makes it extremely relatable to everyone, regardless of where you live. The documentary is honest, emotional and inspiring, featuring people from all walks of life as they fight to shine a light on an illness seemingly forgotten by medicine.
The Fundamentals of Caring
I had seen this film before and loved it, but I watched it again to refresh before writing this article. I would highly recommend this film. It is emotional, real, quirky and extremely funny.
This American comedy-drama is based on a novel written by Jonathon Evision and premiered on Netflix in June 2016. It features Paul Rudd as a retired writer who is struggling with personal tragedy. He becomes a caregiver and his first job is providing care to a teenage boy who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The film follows their journey as a friendship blossoms and they both encourage each other to start living life again, rather than watching it pass them by. The teen boy is played by Craig Roberts, who brings a fantastic element of truly British humour into the mix. The film highlights issues such as feeling entitled to good health, wanting to live a normal life, and the feelings of fear and grief chronic illness can evoke. The film reminds us all to not let disability define who you are and never give up on your dreams. It is laugh-out-loud funny, motivational, hard-hitting at times and wonderfully uplifting at others.
Kiss and Cry
This film is based on the true story of Carley Allison, a 17-year-old figure skater and singer, who is diagnosed with an extremely rare type of Sarcoma. It shows how life can change dramatically in a short space of time. According to her own family, who supported the making of the film, it depicts what cancer actually looks like, and not some Hollywood version of cancer.
The style of the film, where at points the actress playing Carley speaks directly to the camera, makes it very personal. It follows Carley’s journey as she comes to terms with her diagnosis and finds the positive even in such a horrific situation. The story also shows how her family, friends and boyfriend supported her, and tackles delicate issues such as friends who struggle to cope and therefore stop contact, pushing people away and wondering why a partner chooses to stay when you are very ill. It also shows Carley trying to protect others from the reality of her illness and faking a smile at times. Furthermore, it examines how relationships with health care professionals can be difficult and reminds us that behind every doctor and nurse is a human being with their own lives, issues and emotions.
Ultimately, Carley’s motto was to ‘always smile’ and the message within the film is beautiful, heartfelt, and very relatable. Carley leaves her mark on the world and reminds us all to do the same, even when life doesn’t go how you planned. The film is very real, down-to-earth and inspiring.
Degrassi: Next Class
This Canadian teen drama made its debut on Netflix in January 2016 and is comprised of four seasons. This was the show that took the most time to watch because all four seasons were available on Netflix and I couldn’t stop once I’d started.
This was another show I wasn’t sure I’d find very relatable because it is a teen drama and therefore focuses on teenage issues, but I was blown away by the range of issues this drama tackled. I genuinely wish teen shows had been this refreshingly honest back in my own teenage days. The show tackles issues such as abuse, drug use, sex, friendship, relationships, homophobia, racism, mental illness, sexuality, and religion.
It also follows the life of character Grace as she comes to terms with a diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis. Grace hides her diagnosis from her friends in the first season because she doesn’t want pity or to see them struggle to deal with it. In the second episode of season one we see one friend find out the truth and the show does an excellent job of accurately representing how others can struggle to cope with a serious diagnosis. It shows her friend Zoe refusing to believe the illness will eventually kill Grace; Zoe looks for crazy ‘cures’ rather than simply listening to Grace and being there for her. I found this very relatable, and I am sure many people with a chronic illness will too. It is often other people who struggle to come to terms with our diagnosis more than us, and this can hinder our own acceptance of it and the grieving process which is part of all chronic illnesses.
The show does not shy away from the issues of death, life expectancy with the disease, and everything that comes with that. It shows Grace as she moves between acceptance, grief, anger, and hopelessness before finally realising she deserves to live a full life, no matter how short. It also tackles the issue of transplants and the various therapies she must do, as well as how she deals with wearing medical equipment at school once her disease progresses.
The show also follows the character Maya as she struggles with her mental health and suicidal thoughts. It shows how depression and anxiety impact every aspect of her life, the challenges of reaching out for help, the stereotypes and stigma still attached to mental health and ultimately how she tackles those.
Trigger warnings: There are scenes of death and suicide attempts, so please bear this in mind as it may be triggering for some. There are also scenes of a severe car accident, which again may be triggering for some.
Overall, I found the show enjoyable, hard-hitting and unafraid to tackle difficult topics. I pretty much binge-watched this because I got so sucked into the storylines!
Gaga: Five Foot Two
In this 2017 documentary, we are introduced to the world of Lady Gaga. I’ve always enjoyed her music and I was interested to learn more about her, particularly her experience living with Fibromyalgia.
The documentary follows Gaga as she makes her fifth album, Joanne, and the lead up to her half-time performance at the 2017 Super Bowl. It is not solely focused on her battle with Fibromyalgia, but it does feature numerous times in the documentary.
When I first sat down to watch this, I was unsure if I would be able to relate to Lady Gaga in any way. Despite liking her music, we lead completely different lives and I cannot imagine having anything in common with an international superstar. When I started watching the documentary, it seemed to confirm this; I didn’t find Gaga very relatable and if anything found her difficult to watch. However, as the documentary unfolded it was refreshing to see Gaga on a human level: relaxed, no façade and discussing issues which are incredibly difficult to open up about, including mental health, loneliness and chronic pain.
At one point, we see Gaga crying in agony in her apartment due to a flare of her fibro. It is heart-wrenching to watch such a strong woman be crippled by pain, and this is extremely relatable. In that moment, living lives that are different in a million ways becomes insignificant and you can relate to Gaga on such a personal level. You can see the pain written all over her face and body and anyone who suffers with chronic pain knows how she is feeling in that moment. Lady Gaga shows an admirable level of compassion when she acknowledges her privilege to be able to afford a team of people to help her manage her condition and treat her pain.
This documentary highlights that someone can appear totally okay and be functioning as normal, but still be in an incredible amount of pain. Hopefully this documentary is educational for people who do not suffer with chronic pain, as Gaga uses her platform to effectively raise awareness of a still very misunderstood health condition.
My Beautiful Broken Brain
My Beautiful Broken Brain shares the story of Lotje Sodderland, a 34-year-old woman living in London who suffered a Haemorrhagic Stroke as a result of Congenital Vascular Malformation. The documentary follows her journey as she rebuilds her life after her acquired brain injury. As part of her brain injury, she loses her ability to speak, read, and write, among other things, and must learn all those skills again. We witness her journey from the point of her stroke, through inpatient rehabilitation and beyond.
The documentary focuses on her trials and triumphs, the unconditional support of her family and friends, and her fierce determination to recover. It highlights that everything can change in a moment, and accurately chronicles the challenges which surround invisible conditions. It is a raw, emotional, honest account of the every day frustrations of living with a complex health condition. The documentary doesn’t shy away from the realities of Lotje’s life post-stroke and she bravely shares the heartbreaking sense of loss anyone with a chronic illness can relate to.
The documentary was aired on Netflix in March 2016 and shows Lotje going through experimental treatment and the post-stroke complications which follow. It is the story of a woman who must rediscover her identity and learn to live with her ‘new’ brain. It is at times heartbreaking, but it is ultimately an inspiring and hope filled journey which is very relatable to anyone who has had to overcome health challenges and rediscover who they are after a chronic illness diagnosis.
Atypical is an American coming-of-age comedy-drama which premiered on Netflix in August 2017. The show focuses on the life of Sam, an 18-year-old with autism, and explores topics such as relationships, sex, friendship and the challenges Sam experiences as he attempts to get a girlfriend and navigate high school.
I can’t speak from experience as to whether this series accurately depicts life with autism. However, I found it insightful and a chance to view the world through different eyes. At the same time, I am aware that the show divided opinion when it premiered and I can understand both sides. It has been said that the show is very stereotypical which was largely unnecessary. I can understand the frustration of this because autism is a spectrum disorder and does not present the same way in everyone. Personal experience with family and friends has introduced me to people at various points on the spectrum and I would be frustrated if someone stereotyped them based on a narrow view of what autism is. However, I felt this show should be included on the list as it is refreshing to see Autism portrayed in the mainstream media and I believe it could help start important conversations about the condition. The other point made by some is that it would be impossible to accurately represent everyone on the spectrum in one character because by its very nature, autism presents differently in every individual it effects.
One of the things I thought was particularly positive about Atypical was it showed Sam in steady employment. I am passionate about ending disability discrimination in the workplace and know it is common place, so it was refreshing to see someone with a disability being positively represented in the work environment. The show also shows how a family unit learns to navigate the ever-changing challenges presented by disability, and how despite the difficulties they often face, Sam and his family have a close, supportive, loving relationship.
On the flip side there were some scenes which troubled me, including some showing how Sam coped with different situations and the behaviour of his mother’s character. I think it is important to remember when watching this show that it represents one person and their experience in a dramatized way.
Overall though I found the show humorous, informative and really exciting because it is fairly unique in that its main character has autism and the whole show is focused around how he views and navigates the world.
Be Here Now
This documentary follows actor Andy Whitfield on his journey to live life to the full with Non-Hodgkin‘s Lymphoma. It made its Netflix debut in 2015 and is a story of unwavering love between Andy, his wife, and their children as they fight to beat his cancer.
The documentary looks at both western medicine and alternative medicine and covers both in some depth. It reminds us that treatment is a personal choice and we must advocate for ourselves. It also explores the psychological impact of cancer and the allows a glimpse into some of the most personal, private moments of their grief.
Andy and his wife are beautiful to watch; their dynamic is remarkable. The documentary highlights the strength of their love, the resilience of their marriage, and their never-ending hope of a happy ending. We see them cling to each other through the storms life brings and navigate each challenge, setback, and triumph in a wholly united way.
It was an emotional watch; you cannot help but be pulled into their world and cry with them. What was truly beautiful about this documentary was how they turned the worst situation imaginable, losing a loved one, into a positive, learning journey. They remind viewers to count every blessing in life, no matter how small, and to always be present in every moment.
About the Author:
Rachel is a 29-year-old Chronic Illness blogger at whatapain.co.uk, living in the North of England. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2015. Passionate about challenging stereotypes and disability discrimination, she is married to an awesome bearded bloke and owner of a super weird rescue dog called Blue.
Podcasts can be excellent boredom busters. Boredom is often an obstacle in achieving optimal mental health among individuals in the chronically ill community. We need extra time to charge our batteries. This often looks like lounging around all day doing nothing. This can be B O R I N G! Our brains were meant to be exercised just like any other organ in the body. Finding appropriate ways to recharge the mind without overdoing it can be a challenge. This is why we want to recommend listening to podcasts.
Most likely everyone has heard the term podcast but maybe is not really sure what it is all about. Podcasts are like television shows that occur on the radio. This is great for Chargies that experience brain fog or sensory overload. The only sense being used is the sense of sound so even with closed eyes the experience is still enjoyable. There are probably a million or more podcasts hovering on the web ranging in topics from Real Crime Mysteries to Celebrity Gossip to Disability Advocacy. Available on Apple and Android devices as well as from a laptop, most Podcasts are free; although some do charge a small fee. Here is a list of recommended podcasts for Chargies. Enjoy!
Disability Advocacy Podcasts
This is Not What I Ordered · Full-hearted Living with Chronic Illness & Health Challenges · Hosted by Lauren Selfridge
Host Lauren is the epitome of looking on the bright side. She talks openly about how an unexpected diagnosis challenged her to rethink her priorities. A registered associate marriage and family therapist from San Francisco, Lauren uses her education and experience as a therapist to challenge the idea that living with an illness is automatically negative. The podcast is available from iTunes or online at This Is Not What I Ordered where additional resources are also available. Self-described as “deep, funny and full of insights” listening to this podcast is much like sitting in a coffee shop with a girlfriend while discussing challenges unique for Chargies. Currently there are 23 episodes available with each less than an hour long. Go ahead and take a lunch break with Lauren and her friends as they discuss important topics that will leave you feeling energized and optimistic.
in sickness + in health · a podcast about chronic illness, disability, healthcare, and mortality · Hosted by Cara Gael
Cara Gael is a patient that knows the “system sucks” for people with chronic illness. There are 50 episodes varying from a short few minutes to nearly two hours in length. This patient-centered approach might resonate with Chargies tired of being told to “look on the bright side” when all they want is a hug or maybe someone to do a load of laundry. Episode 50 features Jennifer Brea of the documentary Unrest as she discusses with determination the challenges many ME/CFS patients face. Make sure to also catch Dysauto-whatta?! with Lauren Stiles of Dysautonomia International. So far there are 50 episodes varying in length from 14 minutes to almost two hours. Available on iTunes and at In Sickness + In Health Podcast .
Disability Visibility · Politics, Culture, Media · Hosted by Alice Wong
Disability Visibility podcast was recommended via The Unchargeables twitter account. It is inspiring to listen along as Alice helps give a voice to those in the disability community. Many of her interviews are conducted through the vibrant filters artists recognize. We reached out to Alice and she had this to say, “This is life from a disabled lens. Disability Visibility is a weekly podcast hosted by San Francisco night owl Alice Wong featuring conversations on politics, culture, and media with disabled people. If you’re interested in disability rights, social justice and intersectionality, this show is for you. It’s time to hear more disabled voices in radio. All episodes and transcripts are available online at the Disability Visibility Project.” Listen to feel galvanized by the constant reminders that you are enough and you deserve equal treatment under the law.
Laughter is the Best Medicine Podcasts
The Hilarious World of Depression · A Show about Clinical Depression…With Laughs · Hosted by John Moe
With over 40 episodes available for free, this series is all about evoking the “you are not alone” mantra. J.C. in Washington state explained, “It was enlightening to listen and hear that these feelings I have are pretty common. At the same time, it is poignant how many people have experienced similar situations [as me] in their childhood that lead to depression as an adult. You don’t realize how many people are going through the same thing you are going through because we never talk about it.” Host John Moe does an amazing job of breaking through the barriers that keep mental health and depression silenced so we can begin to heal. Available on iTunes and Here.
Armchair Expert · A podcast that celebrates the messiness of being human · Hosted by Dax Shepard
This podcast series proves celebrities are just like us, except with better refrigerators. We all make mistakes, get hung up on our imperfections, and crash into our loved ones causing chaos and injury along the way. Blatantly open about his past demons, Dax Shepard is revitalizing and relatable. In his interview with Mae Whitman, he discusses the idea that there are a million different ways to get to the same destination and sends that message of hope out for all of us. Imagine eavesdropping on a couple of celebrities in some posh L.A. bistro and you’re pretty close to Armchair Expert. The only struggle Chargies may find is that many of the episodes are two hours or more in length. If you have trouble staying focused you might find the longer length a deterrent. However, if you’re going to be sitting in the waiting room or on a long ride to the doctor anyway give this a try. Available on iTunes and at The Armchair Expert Podcast.
Sawbones · A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine · Hosted by Dr. Sydnee & Justin McElroy
With over 200 episodes each about an hour long and with topics ranging from chapped lips to Chinese cupping, there is something for everyone. Justin from Atlanta says he listens not just for the co-host, one of his favorite comedians, but because “it is important to be educated about the shortcomings and scams in the medical industry both historically and today.” The he-said, she-said banter between spouses is authentic and the duo are instantly likable. Find Sawbones on iTunes or at the website Maximum Fun.
Spiritual Health Podcast
Insights at the Edge · by Sounds True · Hosted by Tami Simon
Admitting bias here because this podcast series is one of my personal favorites. Many years ago while searching for answers to my daughter’s debilitating chronic fatigue, I stumbled across this podcast series and was hooked. Each episode takes a look at the spiritual connection to our health from an alternative viewpoint. The wide depth of interviewees was definitely a draw. One day it was listening to a mystic healer, the next a priest, and then a Native American spiritual leader. The principal of grounding, the practice of placing your bare feet on the earth daily,
developed from one episode. While it certainly was not the answer to all the problem, the opportunity to pause from a hectic day and connect with nature for a couple of minutes has been a part of my wellness journey. Expert interviewer Tami Simon helps her guests reveal their message with heart. Listeners are not pushed to accept any ideology but rather offered the ideas like a warm bowl of chicken soup. Guests include chefs, entrepreneurs, authors, artists, spiritual healers of every religious denomination, and new age thinkers. Each podcast is about an hour and there are very many available for free on iTunes or at Sounds True.
About Author T.J. Madden
Reader, Writer, Baker, Teacher, Chicken Soup Maker, Fighter for all Things Healthier, Stronger, Kinder, and Better than Yesterday.
Many chronic illness fighters are bedbound or have to stay indoors most of the time because their energy simply does not allow them to go out much.
When you have to stay home most of the time and you can not work, what are you supposed to do with yourself?
What to do at home?
There are several thing you can do at home. Things that do not use much energy and keep you entertained at the same time. Sounds good right?
Having to deal with a chronic illness does not mean you have to be bored.
Watch movies and series
You can watch movies and series on Netflix. Netflix is a global provider of streaming movies and TV series. You can find almost anything on there. Watch the latest movies or follow the latest series while laying in bed. You have to pay a monthly fee for Netflix.
If your budget does not allow a monthly fee there are always streaming websites online for free. The downside is that they usually have lots of popups and are sometimes very slow and need a lot of loading time.
Did you know there are adult colouring books? There are many to be found on Amazon. Colouring can help you relax. It can calm anxiety and stress levels and is just a nice thing to pass the time. When your hands allow it of course! And in the end you even have something nice to show for it.
There are many ways to craft. You can knit, crochet, sew, make jewelry, and many more! The possibilities are endless. All these things can be very low cost and will keep you busy for hours! Again you will have something nice to show for in the end.
When you want to make jewelry for example you can find nice beads like these on Amazon
This sounds hardbut there are many ways to make simple nailart. It takes hours, requires a lot of concentration and is a perfect way to stay busy.
Nail polish is cheap and you can draw the images with toothpicks if you do not have the budget to get the official dotting tools.