Chronic Resilience: An Interview with Danea Horn
Chronic illness adds a unique kind of stress to your life that can be hard to adjust to. In her new book Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Tools for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness, Danea Horn provides a blueprint for coping with the challenges of chronic illness. Each chapter includes a discussion of the issue at hand, practical and very doable suggestions for getting back in control and interviews with women who live with a variety of chronic illnesses. In order to help you make the theory real for your own life, Danea also includes journal exercises to help you think about how you deal with chronic illness and reframe this so you can live in a more stress-free way. As I was reading the book, I nodded in recognition to many of the points Danea brings up. It prompted me to take a closer look at how I deal with stress and I'm already implementing some of her excellent tips. This book is a must-have for women living with a chronic illness. It would also make a great gift for anyone who's struggling with managing stress, whether they have a chronic illness or not.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with Danea about her life and her new book.
A Catalyst for Change
Danea was born with a rare condition called VACTERL association. This diagnosis is given when a child is born with a malformation in three or more of certain bodily systems. "As a child, I had lots of hospital stays, surgeries, issues with my spine and kidney reflux, which can cause infections." Multiple kidney infections over a three-year period in her teens led to Danea being put on permanent antibiotics and she experienced significant scarring in her one functioning kidney.
Danea majored in math and economics in college. She met her husband Phillip there as part of a group of friends, but they didn't start dating until after graduation. "We knew we would marry each other on our second date," she remembers, "we became engaged after four months of dating and married a year after." Phillip is a very important part of her support system. "He's just amazing, accepting everything about my health and there through all the ups and downs. I feel so blessed to have someone so solid and supportive," she says. Danea and Phillip live in Sacramento with their two rescue dogs.
The scarring Danea experiencing in her kidney caused so much damage that she is now on the transplant list for a kidney. "I'll be getting a living donor transplant within the next year," she explains. As her health deteriorated, Danea’s previous career in corporate finance needed to change. "I needed to do something at home on my own," she says. "I knew there was a book, a message inside me." Her first website was Creative Affirmations and she added a Life Coach certification, starting over as a speaker and writer. Then she set about writing her book.
A New Philosophy
"When my health took a turn for the worse, my philosophy around my health was changing. I realize that with our health, there are certain things that are within our control and certain things that are out of our control," Danea explains. Previously, she had believed that "we could control a lot of our health without thoughts and our feelings. I felt a lot of guilt and shame for being sick and for not being able to heal myself. Sometimes, when we get sick it turns from a bad thing happened to there’s something bad about me." She came to a profound realization. "I had spent years trying to heal something that was never even broken."
Danea’s changed philosophy is the cornerstone of her book. "I realize that what we're really called to do is to accept the parts we can't control and to place all focus on the things we can control. It's so much more important to be accepting and compassionate with ourselves." She believes that it's important that to "do our part, to step up, to adjust our diet, to figure out what’s going to manage out stress and create the right environment, but to also have compassion for the things we can't control."
Ten amazing women who live with a variety of chronic illnesses were interviewed for the book, including Kelly Young of RA Warrior. "I wanted to include a wide variety of women's voices and stories," Danea explains. In addition to the depth of experience she discovered when interviewing the women, another thing surprised her. "The commonalities. Even though the symptoms were different and the diagnoses were different, a lot of the women had a very similar outlook on coping with illness. They needed to step out and do their part, but also to set boundaries and discover what their body needed to be the most comfortable and healthy given the parameters they have to work with."
Danea is starting her book tour in San Diego at the hospital where she had most of her surgeries and then making several other stops on the West Coast. She hopes that readers will know that "they're amazing for going through what they're going through and will have compassion for themselves and know they're not alone."
"I hope the readers of my book will walk away knowing they’re a superhero."
Visit Danea Horn’s website at Chronic Resilience.
Lene is the author of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain