What Can We Learn from Others?

Sue Bergeson Health Guide
  • "I'd overcome a problem with drinking long ago-I hadn't touched alcohol in 18 years-but the pain was so unrelenting, I found myself drinking again. If you're in constant pain, you'll do anything. It just wears you down."
    --Ron, living with arthritis


    "Finally, I began to realize the underlying problem: these doctors were not really listening to me. They were not hearing me. They just kept filling me up with the medicines they thought I should take without really addressing my issues....In a frantic effort to find someone-anyone-who could address my issues, I called the health provider .... this counselor knew of a doctor and, if I would trust him, he would call this physician and get me an appointment. As you can imagine, I was highly skeptical. I had "been there and done that" so many times that I figured this physician would be just like all the rest. I couldn't have been more wrong. This doctor listened to everything I had to say. His exam was thorough, and his questions were intelligent and probing. He didn't discount anything I said, was never condescending and made me feel as if we were working together as a team to devise a plan for me. He answered many questions that no one had ever been able to address and didn't make me feel foolish for asking them. Then, he analyzed my long list of medicines and therapies and devised a brand new regimen for my medications. My husband and I left his office with hope in our hearts for the first time in years."

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    --Mary, living with chronic pain


    "I hate it when a doctor acts like he has the ONLY answer and uses fear tactics to try to convince me to do what he wants. It makes me want to prove him wrong."
    --Rita, living with cancer


    It's amazing when you listen to consumers living with other chronic illnesses talk about their experiences. Their experiences resonate with ours so fully. I guess I had never thought about that until I read Strong at the Broken Places by Richard Cohen. My friend Larry Fricks is featured in the book talking about living with bipolar disorder. And there are others featured who talk about living with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other chronic, disabling illnesses. Cohen takes all those stories and helps us understand the connections we all have and the lessons we can learn from each other.


    Richard and Larry are both speaking at DBSA's upcoming conference, "The Power of Peers," in Norfolk, Virginia next month, from September 10-14. If you haven't registered yet, it's not too late! Sign up and be inspired by Richard and Larry, and our two other keynote speakers (and mental health heroes), Kay Redifield Jamison and Pat Deegan. To learn more or register for this empowering conference, click here.



Published On: August 06, 2008