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on 13 October 2010
This is a beautifully written story about a woman who is faced with a completely life-changing illness. But the story is not just for people who are sick, or even just for people who are caring for someone who is sick. It is a very touching story of mother, wife, friend, pet-owner, and law professor, who has to figure out how to enjoy living a life she never expected to live. Through self-discovery and her Buddhist practice, she discovers and shares with us how she has learned to appreciate her life as it is, and not how she wishes it could be.

For anyone who has ever struggled with dissatisfaction in their lives, and especially people who are dealing with chronic illness, this book will touch and inspire you
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on 28 June 2014
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 around Buddhism. I was expecting more of the same with How to be Sick, only more in-depth. Unfortunately I instead found that most of the book was, in my opinion, fluff (ie. extra words that weren’t necessary just to make the chapters longer).

The book starts with Bernhard’s personal journey with becoming ill on a holiday in Paris, and never recovering. She then goes on to explain a few fundamentals of Buddhism and examples of how she uses them. However, I felt that it was simply repetition of saying ‘so I started to think like that and it helped’, which isn’t actually very useful to the reader. I was really looking for actionable steps, due to it being described as ‘a Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers’, and for me the book just didn’t deliver.

I did find some of the explanations of Buddhist ideas helpful, but I feel that I would just as easily be able to learn these online or using books dedicated to Buddhism. As so many of Bernhard’s examples simply explain what her mental and emotional state would be like without using Buddhism, I didn’t find many of them useful or explanatory.

Despite not finding the majority of the book up to my expectations, the final chapters did explain the difficulties people with chronic disabilities face, that most people may not be aware of, as well as giving suggestions on how to deal with specific problems (although, most of those suggestions involve nothing more than some positive statements to say to yourself).
Overall I was very disappointed with How to be Sick, and I personally didn’t find it worth my time, money or energy. However, for those with chronic disabilities and their carers, I still recommend reading Toni Bernhard’s column online if you are looking for a burst of inspiration, acceptance, and understanding.
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on 11 October 2010
Wonderful. I expect this book to become a bedside bible for all those who are chronically sick . Toni Bernhard intertwines her own personal experience of ME/CFS with selected Buddhist exercises to nurture the body, mind and soul. Excellent, and a must buy for anyone who is chronically sick or indeed those caring for them.
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on 4 August 2016
I am half way through this book so can't speak for the whole thing. I didn't expect it to be so much about one women's experience of ME/CFS. Although the experience is interesting and reflects the story of many with this diagnosis. It highlights with good insight experience of how life is effected by both diagnosed and partner. I'm wondering how different a read it would be if it was written with a UK perspective as it talks about experience in America which for me distances the story somewhat. There are interesting passages from Buddhist teachings that fit well with supporting one through chronic illness. It's a good sign - poster for further studying of these concepts.
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on 2 June 2017
A very easy read, and lots of good information and ideas. I have fibromyalgia and this has helped with my depression.
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on 6 January 2011
I want to tell you about this wonderful book that Toni has written.

But first, a little background about myself. I have stage four advanced breast cancer stemming from the genetic mutation BRCA2. I nursed my Mother when she died, have been there while my sister and nieces have undergone and are still undergoing treatment and, of course, my own. I am now on a trial drug to try and stop my cancer spreading plus monthly treatments. All this means I have many days of lying on a bed being very unwell and am also facing a very uncertain future.

Toni's book came to me through a link from a friend and it has been a god send. In the past I have both bought and been given a number of books on how to deal and be with my BC. Most are along the lines of me needing to think my cancer away, to completely change my diet, to think possitively and so on - you know what I mean. There is none of that in Toni's book. It is simply the most practical and inspiring book I have read. Toni draws from not only wonderful Buddhist practices, but from movies, songs, people, wrtings, poetry, and her own experiences. She showed me how to face and be with my cancer, to feel the uncertainty, the fear, to be a woman lying on a bed so unwell, worrying...
I have been around Buddhists for around 20 years (I am not a Buddhist myself) and the way Toni explains the concepts and practices of Buddhism is the best I have heard. Wow, Toni, I get it... or should I say - I'm getting it.

I do not write this lightly, How to be Sick resonated with my very core. As I face all that is cancer, not only now but the future, I am so very very grateful to have Toni's book right there beside me. Thank you.
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on 13 January 2016
I really wanted to like this book as I suffer from Fibromyalgia and wanted to read more about how Toni Bernhard coped .
But it was too hard going for me , I found the Buddhist teachings part confusing, over wordy, very long winded and at times boring. I found her analogies strange and hard to relate to.
The book just couldn't hold my interest as one reviewer already commented if you want a book about Buddhism and the value of going on a retreat this is the book for you
If you don't , like me I would suggest another option
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on 23 September 2011
This book is a rarity - a truly helpful self help book. I read it in a few days while on leave trying to get a handle on the chronic headaches that had been causing me hell for several years and the doctors were very little help with. I'm now re-reading it chapter by chapter practicing the techniques and suggestions and it has helped me to become calmer and more accepting of my condition and to understand what I can and cannot change. This in turn has brought about an improvement in my symptoms that all of my desperate search for a simple cure had failed to do, and more importantly helped me to enjoy what I can do rather than concentrating on what I can't. I highly recommend it.
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on 6 August 2012
A must have book for anyone with disharmony in their lives not just an illness . I'm already using ideas from the book with good success . It's not gonna make me better but it helps me step back from things alittle bit and helps me to loosen the grip the illness has on me mentally x
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on 25 January 2012
A marvellous introduction to Buddhism, specifically relating to those with, or caring for a person with a chronic illness. I read this book through and found it incredibly inspiring. I plan to read it again more carefully in order to better understand the Buddhist principles. I will then be passing it on to family and friends.
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