10 TED Talks People with Chronic Illness Will Relate To

by Yumhee Park Content Producer

1. The mystery of chronic pain

“Imagine what your life would be like if I were to stroke it with this feather, but your brain was telling you that [a hot torch] is what you are feeling — and that is the experience of my patients with chronic pain.”

Chronic pain itself can be a disease and not simply a symptom of one. In this enlightening talk, how chronic pain can be treated is assessed by getting to the root of the problem. The root of the problem lies in the nervous system and specifically in some tiny cells. So, is chronic pain really a disease of the nerves?

Related: Tips for Talking to Your Doctor When You have Chronic Pain

2. A doctor’s touch

“We're losing a ritual. We're losing a ritual that I believe is transformative, transcendent, and is at the heart of the patient-physician relationship.”

Having a chronic illness means truly trusting your healthcare team, hopefully one being led by a well versed doctor. But what happens when hands are replaced with lasers and you’re being talked about instead of being invited into the conversation? This talk explores the importance of the doctor’s touch and how we are increasingly losing the intimacies of the patient-physician relationship.

3. A broken body isn’t a broken person

“And I realized that this wasn't just my life. It was life itself. I realized that this wasn't just my pain. It was everybody's pain. And then I knew, just like before, that I had a choice. I could keep fighting this or I could let go and accept not only my body but the circumstances of my life. And then I stopped asking, "Why me?" And I started to ask, "Why not me?" And then I thought to myself, maybe being at rock bottom is actually the perfect place to start.”

This talk is for anyone who has ever felt alone, hopeless, and lost about their life and who they were after a chronic illness diagnosis. Grab some tissues and a straw (you’ll see what I mean) for this talk, as it delves into the unexpected things that life throws our way, and how we can come out of them stronger.

Related: 4 People on Living with Hepatitis C and How They Persevered Despite Their Illness

4. Mental health for all by involving all

“It empowers ordinary people to be more effective in caring for the health of others in their community, and in doing so, to become better guardians of their own health. Indeed, for me, task shifting is the ultimate example of the democratization of medical knowledge, and therefore, medical power.”

The reality of chronic illness is that too often mental illness accompanies it – whether that be depression, anxiety, or something else. Yet in many parts of the world, mental health care is lacking. In this talk, human potential is analyzed through a mental health care lens. Could the answer lie in us becoming the care we need?

Related: 10 Ways to Cope with Your Partner’s Depression

5. Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?

“So what if we're fighting the wrong war, fighting obesity rather than insulin resistance? Even worse, what if blaming the obese means we're blaming the victims? What if some of our fundamental ideas about obesity are just wrong?”

What is the cause of diabetes? Being too fat? There is much stigma attached with obesity, with blame being shifted this way and that. But, what is the real cause of obesity? In this informative talk, a doctor who once judged a woman with type 2 diabetes, proposes the idea that perhaps diabetes and obesity are an effect of a larger, potentially more sinister problem.

Related: How Did We Get So Big?: 5 Aspects of the Obesity Crisis in America

6. Why we all need to practice emotional first aid

“How is it that we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds. Why is it that our physical health is so much more important to us than our psychological health?”

The toll a chronic illness takes on our bodies can be severe. Taking care of our physical health can often lead us to forget about our emotional health. In this poignant talk, a psychologist explains the ways we hurt our mind lead to physical repercussions, and describes how we can change the way we think to truly begin to heal ourselves, inside out.

Related: Feeling Lonely? Connect with HealthCentral

7. The opportunity of adversity

“By not treating the wholeness of a person, by not acknowledging their potency, we are creating another ill on top of whatever natural struggle they might have.”

Do we limit the potential of people who we deem as not wholly healthy or able? This talk is for anybody who has been told they cannot do this or shouldn’t do that because of their chronic illness. This empowering talk will make you ask yourself, “why NOT me?”

Related: A Woman’s Story about Living and Thriving with RA

Bonus: How To Become Batman

8. Your genes are not your fate

“What we're learning is how powerful and dynamic these changes can be, that you don't have to wait very long to see the benefits.”

This quick talk gives an overview of how our predisposition to certain diseases does not necessarily mean our health is doomed. The choices we make every day have a significant effect on our bodies, according to the studies covered in this talk. This talk will get you motivated to start moving, change your diet, and quit bad habits

Related: Reversing Diabetes

Heart Disease is a Reversible Process

Pain Management as We Age: An Interview With Denis Patterson, D.O.

9. The single biggest health threat women face

“And here's what the story is. Is it because women don't look like men, they don't look like that male-pattern heart disease that we've spent the last 50 years understanding and getting really good diagnostics and really good therapeutics, and therefore, they're not recognized for their heart disease. And they're just passed. They don't get treated, they don't get detected, they don't get the benefit of all the modern medicines.”

One out of two women will be affected by heart disease in their lifetime. It remains the leading cause of death for women. Disease affects us all so personally, but many times in order to advocate for our health, the personal becomes political. This informative talk dives into the nitty gritty of how health research and policies may forget women and how you can get involved in leveling the field of information.

Related: Signs of Heart Attack in Women

Being A Woman And Underpaid Could Have A Serious Effect On Your Health

7 Myths About Heart Disease in Women

10. The power of vulnerability

“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. That's it. They believe they're worthy.”

Fill in the blank: I’m not __ enough. In this sometimes humorous, at points evocative talk, a storyteller lays out research about human connection, and how vulnerability can be a key to forming the lasting connections that every human seeks. When chronic illness is involved, we may sometimes feel not worthy of normal experiences, reserving them for people who are deemed “healthy”.

We hope this talk will empower you to have the courage to share your story about your health condition and form real, lasting connections. And where better to do it, than right here, at HealthCentral?

Yumhee Park
Meet Our Writer
Yumhee Park

Yumhee Park is a former content producer for HealthCentral and helped bring important stories of health advocates to life as a member of the Live Bold, Live Now multimedia team.