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"Start Where You Are": Toni Bernhard's Guide to Dealing Skillfully with Drug Side Effects

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Using a Pema Chodron's "Start Where You Are" technique, Toni Bernhard pens a great guide to dealing with the side effects of a new medication she's taking - or any other negative aspects of having a chronic illness.

"With the help of this practice, instead of mounting a daily—but ultimately losing—battle against those symptoms by telling myself how much I hate them and how I must get rid of them, I say to myself: “Okay. These symptoms are my starting point today: I feel sick and I’m in pain. Now, how can I make the best of this day?” Pema Chödrön’s start where you are enables me to be present for my life as it is and to try and enjoy it, instead of spending my time complaining about a life I can no longer lead."
I thought about how complaining about side-effects did nothing to diminish them; in fact, it increased my mental suffering. I decided it would be better for me to stop fighting what was happening and to begin treating how I was feeling as my starting point.

I’ve been working on this, and it’s turning out to be more helpful than I’d imagined. This change in perspective has even opened my mind to the fact that no medication’s side-effects are set in stone. My body may adjust to some or all of them (the initial side-effect of shirt-drenching night sweats has already improved). I’d been so busy complaining about the medication that I hadn’t considered the possibility that some of the side-effects might be temporary—despite the fact that the drug information sheet contains that very statement.
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