Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness by Tamara McClintock Greenberg : Interview, Excerpt

 



Title: When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness: Hope and Help for Those Providing Support
Author: Tamara McClintock Greenberg, Psy.D.
Genre: Non-Fiction: Relationships, Self-Help, Coping with Illness
Published by: Cedar Fort Publishing
Publication Date: February 2012
Recommended Age: Any
Format(s): eBook, Trade Paperback
ISBN 13: 9781599559391
Number of pages: 176


Thanks to advances in science and medicine the lifespan of the average American is now longer than ever and many illnesses that once would have proven fatal have become manageable, chronic conditions. Great news, right? Sure, but there is another side to the 21st Century health picture—and it is increasingly becoming part of the lives of Americans. Many more people are living with chronic illness and that means that more than ever family members, friends, and partners are needed to provide formal or informal support.

The average life expectancy in 1920 was around 54 years of age. Today it is between 76-80, though many of us can expect to live much longer—and to be the official caregiver or part of the care giving team for a loved one. For those of us not involved in formal caregiving roles, it is increasingly vital to know what to do and what to say when someone we know is ill. Knowing how to help is crucial to being able to sustain meaningful relationships in this unchartered time of uncertain longevity.

That’s why Tamara McClintock Greenberg, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating individuals with chronic illness and their families, wrote WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS A CHRONIC ILLNESS: HOPE AND HELP FOR THOSE PROVIDING SUPPORT (Cedar Fort Books, February 2012, ISBN: 978-1-59955-939-1, Trade Paper). In this groundbreaking book McClintock Greenberg shows readers how to provide the best care for their loved ones, without losing themselves.

When family, spouses, and friends are thrust into formal or informal caregiving roles they face a variety of psychological and physical challenges, and they often find themselves with little support and few resources. They also must address difficult issues such as non-compliance, denial, chronic pain and frustration on the part of their struggling loved one. No wonder, then, family members in a caregiver role have higher rates of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t involved in providing care. Vicarious trauma and “compassion fatigue” are common, as are feelings of guilt about having needs of their own and attempts to carve out time for themselves. Self-care can start to seem like a luxury that is out of reach. It’s easy to see how this exacts a steep toll on the caregiver, but new research also tells us that it impacts those being cared for. Studies now show that those who devote sufficient time and energy to their own needs provide better quality care than those who don’t. In other words, we provide better support when we pay attention to our own needs.

So, how can caregivers meet the demands of care giving without sacrificing self-care? Throughout WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS A CHRONIC ILLNESS: HOPE AND HELP FOR THOSE PROVIDING SUPPORT McClintock Greenberg offers compassionate, authoritative, and step-by-step help for striking this critical balance. At the end of each chapter readers find a “coping checklist” that provides helpful, no-nonsense guidance on how to best address their loved ones’ needs and their own.


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EXCERPT
 
 



Illness makes us uncomfortable. No matter how sensitive we are, no matter how well we listen to others, and no matter how much illness has touched our lives, bodily limitations remind us of our vulnerability. When people we care about suffer, it can make us feel helpless. We are unable to take away their worry, their physical pain, and the suffering they must endure. 

So, What Do You Say? 

When someone is sick, it is customary to ask for a brief update and then change the subject to something lighter. When people let down their guard enough to acknowledge that they aren’t quite sure how to help someone who has been affected by illness, the first thing they say is, “I just don’t know what to say.” This is a good starting point because it confronts the fact that there is often no right thing to say or do. Being present, aware, and mindful is what matters most. That being said, there are some things that can be construed as not helpful, and I’d like to help you avoid those things. In other words, if I had to put it in one sentence, I would say, be present and try not to say offensive things.
INTERVIEW
 
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I would love to go to Antarctica. I want to see glaciers before they possibly melt, and I love penguins.  They seem like the coolest of animals.  I heard once that they mate for life. 
 
Who is your favorite author? 
I am often so impressed by people I read, it is hard to say.  I am a big fan of Zadie Smith and Carol Shields.  Both women (though Shields is no longer with us) do an amazing job of describing the unique psychology of women, the way we can get overly focused on things or ignore painful realities. 
 
What do you think makes a good story? 
Anything I can relate to!  Which is a lot.  In my own writing, I can’t talk about people’s stories in detail because of my need to protect confidentiality.  I really admire fiction writers because they can create a person’s story and psychology, but since it is fiction, no one’s privacy is violated. 

Tell us about your family.
I am from rural Minnesota, from a lower-class background.  This has informed everything that I do.  When I went to college and graduate school, people from backgrounds with more privilege surrounded me. I often felt lost or out of place.  As a result, I take very seriously the need to translate complex ideas into language that everyone can understand.  Coming from a family with limited education, it has been really important to speak like a real person.  This sometimes gets me in trouble at cocktail parties or professional gatherings, as I often feel the need to speak about things that seem off or weird.  That said, most people seem to understand that I really just want to move to a more authentic discussion. 

What was the scariest moment of your life? 
Life is pretty scary.  I can’t really point to one moment, but I can say that being successful is pretty scary. 

What books have most influenced your life?
Most things by good writers have influenced me.  Writing is such a difficult craft and I remain in awe of those that do it well. 

What book are you reading now? 
I just came back from a long vacation and I read a lot.  The two best books I read last month were Swamplandia and The Family Fang. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was really young, I wanted to be a gymnast.  Those young women have such command of their bodies and I always strived for that.  By high school, I wanted to be a psychologist.  I have always been pretty lucky that I picked a career that I love and that I always wanted. 

What are your favorite TV shows?
I am currently obsessed with The Newsroom.  Sorkin is brilliant and the acting is phenomenal. 

What songs are most played on your IPod? 
Tongue Tied by Grouplove is frequently played.  I am also loving Crush by Reign of Terror. 

What is your favorite meal? 
Grilled cheese and tomato soup. 

What group did you hang out with in high school?
I had to work really hard to break into the cool group.  Fortunately, two close friends, Tina and Lisa had my back. 

Do you play any sports?
Tennis. I was not great at anything else in high school, though I did try…  Now, I do also do Pilates, and am a bit of an addict.  I also jog, albeit really slowly and I lift weights. 

What are you passionate about these days?
Healthcare and equality, gay marriage (pro gay marriage, by the way). 

What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love to be at the beach with my dogs. There is something very peaceful about how dogs are curious and excited by novelty.  

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
My family, for being so different. 

Who should play you in a film? 
No one. Why would they want to?

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know? 
Night person: creative ideas creep in then. 

What would we find under your bed?
A bunch of stuff that should be put in storage!

Tell us about your favorite restaurant.
L’Auberge Bressane in Paris.  They serve amazing soufflés and wonderful chicken in a morel mushroom sauce. They also don’t mind bad French when you are trying to order.

What makes you happy?
Hanging out with my husband and dogs. 

What is the next big thing?
I don’t know, something likely related to the Internet, but I am not sure what that could be.  I miss the old days of letters and paper. 
 
If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?
I am grumpy, especially if I can’t work out before going to work. 
 
What one word best describes you?
Motivated. 
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Tamara McClintock Greenberg, Psy.D., M.S., a licensed clinical psychologist, works with patients and family members affected by acute or chronic illness. She is an associate clinical professor and clinical supervisor at the University of California, San Francisco Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Greenberg has written three books and numerous chapters and articles on aging, illness, as well as issues pertaining to women. She writes for Psychology Today online and The Huffington Post. She also speaks to medical, psychological, and public audiences on the impact of illness, caregiving issues, and dealing with the modern medical system as a patient or loved one. She is in private practice in San Francisco.
Greenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Hamline University in Minnesota and was awarded the prestigious Jacob Markovitz Memorial Scholarship to continue in the doctoral program at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. She graduated in 1997 with a doctorate in clinical psychology with a speciality in clinical health psychology.
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