PODCAST

The Rest Room

Natasha Lipman

The Rest Room is a podcast about living well with chronic illness. I'm Natasha Lipman, an award-winning chronic illness blogger and journalist from London. I've been working with experts to bring you evidence-based guides on a whole host of topics like pacing, exercise, and chronic pain. I'll also be talking to people who live with chronic illness and disability who are doing awesome things and learning how they make it work, as well as digging deep into the businesses and brands that are focussed on accessibility. Think fashion, theatre, film, work, and play - there's a whole lot coming up to explore. So why don't you get cozy, make yourself a cup of tea, and join me in The Rest Room?

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Planning a chronic illness friendly wedding
15-06-2022
Planning a chronic illness friendly wedding
Ok so, I know how I often talk about pacing and thinking about how to break up activities and give myself as much time as possible to do things…and then…we decided to get married in August. But we have a plan. And I love admin, so…this is going to be totally fine…?!Sebastian and I got engaged in June of 2020, but with the whole pandemic going on we decided that we weren’t going to think about a wedding for the foreseeable future. Then we were in Germany in May and our friends got engaged and we were like, oh yeah we need to actually get married. So we decided to do it this summer to make sure that people who were important to us were able to attend. Neither of us really care about a party or wanted anything super “wedding-y”. That being said, we’ve agreed to try and do something small and special - and after telling my producer Philly on WhatsApp she insisted I grab my mic and jump on a call with her. So, the question is: how do you plan a wedding, in 3 months, when you have chronic illness? The honest answer is…I have no idea… but I’m trying!  In today’s episode, we talk about how I’m trying to create a special day that is as chronic illness friendly as possible. We talk about pacing and planning and prioritising and much more. This is more of a chatty, personal, off the cuff episode, and we hope you find it interesting! To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.Please note: if you receive this email within the first few hours of it being sent out, it might take a few hours for the podcast to filter through to some of the podcast platforms like Amazon or Spotify.A big thanks to Phlo for supporting this episode. They’re the online pharmacy that makes ordering your medication easy. Visit wearephlo.com or download Phlo on your favourite App Store to manage, track and have your medication delivered at the touch of a button.Thanks to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts, to Lucy Dove for the episode art, and to Amit Rai for my intro music.If you want to support The Rest Room, please consider becoming a premium subscriber. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
Planning a chronic illness friendly wedding
15-06-2022
Planning a chronic illness friendly wedding
Ok so, I know how I often talk about pacing and thinking about how to break up activities and give myself as much time as possible to do things…and then…we decided to get married in August. But we have a plan. And I love admin, so…this is going to be totally fine…?!Sebastian and I got engaged in June of 2020, but with the whole pandemic going on we decided that we weren’t going to think about a wedding for the foreseeable future. Then we were in Germany in May and our friends got engaged and we were like, oh yeah we need to actually get married. So we decided to do it this summer to make sure that people who were important to us were able to attend. Neither of us really care about a party or wanted anything super “wedding-y”. That being said, we’ve agreed to try and do something small and special - and after telling my producer Philly on WhatsApp she insisted I grab my mic and jump on a call with her. So, the question is: how do you plan a wedding, in 3 months, when you have chronic illness? The honest answer is…I have no idea… but I’m trying!  In today’s episode, we talk about how I’m trying to create a special day that is as chronic illness friendly as possible. We talk about pacing and planning and prioritising and much more. This is more of a chatty, personal, off the cuff episode, and we hope you find it interesting! To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.Please note: if you receive this email within the first few hours of it being sent out, it might take a few hours for the podcast to filter through to some of the podcast platforms like Amazon or Spotify.A big thanks to Phlo for supporting this episode. They’re the online pharmacy that makes ordering your medication easy. Visit wearephlo.com or download Phlo on your favourite App Store to manage, track and have your medication delivered at the touch of a button.Thanks to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts, to Lucy Dove for the episode art, and to Amit Rai for my intro music.If you want to support The Rest Room, please consider becoming a premium subscriber. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
The problem with "self-management"
01-06-2022
The problem with "self-management"
If you’re a regular listener of The Rest Room podcast, you may have sensed a little bit of a theme. I’m very interested in exploring tools and techniques to help us learn how to live well with chronic illness. We’ve explored topics like pacing and how to safely and sustainably introduce movement into your life - things that are often lumped into the bucket of “self-management”. To me, self-management has always been thinking about the stuff I have to do myself (often outside of a medical setting) to manage my conditions on a day-to-day basis. But I never really took the time to ask: what are we actually talking about when we say “self-management”? For so many people living with long-term conditions, being told to “self-manage” leaves them feeling neglected and abandoned without appropriate care. It can feel like a cost-saving exercise for an overstretched healthcare system, and patients are often left alone to “manage” as best as they can. It turns out that “self-management” is not just one thing, and that even within the NHS, nobody seems to agree on what it means. Which (obviously) has significant repercussions for patients. And that’s exactly what we’re going to be exploring with our guest, Jackie Walumbe. Jackie is a physiotherapist working for the NHS in England and is the co-chair of the Physiotherapy Pain Association. She’s also working on her PhD, which focuses on the self-management of chronic pain.In today’s episode we do a deep-dive into all things self-management, including:Why can’t anyone agree on what self-management actually means?How do we have such a disconnect and what does this mean for patients?Jackie’s research into self-management People falling through the gaps and the burden of responsibility on the patientHow should we conceptualise self-management (or should we even be using that term at all?!)Learning from patientsHow can we provide better pain care for patients in the future?…and much more. This was a fascinating conversation, and it made me rethink a lot of things that I just took for granted in the pain space. I hope whether you’re a patient or a clinician, you’ll find it just as fascinating!To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.Please note: if you receive this email within the first few hours of it being sent out, it might take a few hours for the podcast to filter through to some of the podcast platforms like Amazon or Spotify.A huge thank you to Jackie for sharing her research with us. You can follow Jackie on Twitter and learn more about the Physiotherapy Pain Association.A big thanks to Phlo for supporting this episode. They’re the online pharmacy that makes ordering your medication easy. Visit wearephlo.com or download Phlo on your favourite App Store to manage, track and have your medication delivered at the touch of a button.Thanks to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts, to Lucy Dove for the episode art, and to Amit Rai for my intro music.If you want to support The Rest Room, please consider becoming a premium subscriber. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
How to reduce brain fog
29-04-2022
How to reduce brain fog
Welcome back to Part 2 of our mini series on brain fog and chronic illness. In our last episode, Neuroscientist Dr. Sabina Brennan explained what brain fog actually is and all the different ways it can impact us. As someone who has complained about brain fog for years, but has never thought about it beyond my own subjective experience, I found it fascinating, and highly recommend giving it a listen if you haven’t already. As it turns out, brain fog isn’t a disease, a disorder, or a diagnosis. It’s more a sign “that something is amiss and a signal to take action.” But what does taking action mean when you have an underlying condition? According to Sabina: “Even if you identify [that your brain fog is caused by] your autoimmune disease, your inflammatory disease, or your chronic pain…there may be other factors in your lifestyle that are adding to it or actually just create the tipping point. And actually, if you sort those lifestyle factors, the fog that's caused as a consequence of your condition may not be as bad.”Which is why in today’s episode, we’re exploring the four main factors that contribute to brain fog, and what we can do to help reduce it. And, because this is The Rest Room, of course we’ll be doing this with an understanding that it’s not easy for people with chronic conditions, and offer tips and tricks for how to slowly, safely and sustainably work towards changes that may help with your brain fog, whilst also working for your body and lifestyle. It was a wide-ranging conversation, and I hope you’ll it helpful.To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog. Please note: if you receive this email within the first few hours of it being sent out, it might take a few hours for the podcast to filter through to some of the podcast platforms like Amazon or Spotify.I wanted to take a quick moment to thank the sponsor of this episode, Fine & Able, who create beautiful accessible bathrooms in a style you love. To find out more visit their website and Instagram and use code NATASHA200 to book your free design consultation. Thanks to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts, to Lucy Dove for the episode art, and to Amit Rai for my intro music.Edit 30/4/22 5.06pm - typo in Sabina’s quote “something is missed” corrected to “something is amiss”. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
What actually is brain fog?
13-04-2022
What actually is brain fog?
Like many people living with chronic illness and chronic pain, brain fog is a normal (but bloody annoying) part of my daily life. Whilst I can talk about it subjectively, I never spent much time thinking about what brain fog actually is. I’m not particularly adept at using visual and descriptive imagery to explain things, so I loved when my friend said that brain fog to her is “like trying to load Netflix on dial up internet on a windows 98 computer.”In today’s episode, I’m joined by Dr Sabina Brennan, a neuroscientist, health psychologist, and author of the book Beating Brain Fog, who also lives with brain fog herself. Sabina shares some of the fascinating science behind what brain fog is, why people experience brain fog, and all the different ways brain fog can impact us. We’ll also explore what we can do to help.This episode was made possible thanks to my Premium subscribers. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.Turns out, it’s a lot more interesting and complex than I thought, and I now understand some of my own symptoms (and how I interact with the world) better than I did before. So, if you struggle with brain fog (whatever that means to you), I think you’ll learn a lot from this episode. I certainly did! To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.To learn about pacing more with chronic illness, check out this episode of The Rest Room Podcast. Find out more about subscribing to my newsletter here. And consider following me on Instagram and Twitter if you haven’t already! Catch up on my latest issue about growing up in a body that seemingly falls apart at random, and my multi-year quest to learn to feel safer in my body and movement. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
“The whole world needs to know that people with disabilities in Ukraine are left behind”
15-03-2022
“The whole world needs to know that people with disabilities in Ukraine are left behind”
On the 24th February 2022, the world watched in horror as Russian troops invaded Ukraine. At the time of writing, more than 2.5 million people have fled the country, in what the United Nations has called the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two. It’s unclear how many of those who’ve left are disabled, but the European Disability Forum has said tens of thousands of people with disabilities "risk being abandoned and forgotten".The International Disability Alliance says there’s little evacuation support, and even those who do manage to get to refugee centres or shelters face many obstacles. And as Russia steps up its attacks on civilian centres, staying in Ukraine doesn’t seem like an option, but not everyone is physically able to leave. Charities and organisations across Europe are coming together and working tirelessly to help as many disabled Ukrainians as they can find safety - or to provide practical help to those who’ve chosen, or have no other choice, but to stay. But there is still so much work to be done. On Monday, I spoke to Tanya Herasymova, the project coordinator for the Ukrainian disability group Fight For Right. Their mission is to achieve effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and a few weeks ago the focus of their work shifted almost overnight as rumours began to circulate that Russia would invade Ukraine. Tanya is disabled, and made the difficult decision to leave her home. Thanks to the support of her colleagues, she’s now safely out of the country. I was able to speak to her about her experiences and the work that needs to be done to support disabled Ukrainians, both inside and outside the country.To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.Fight For Right have been fundraising to support disabled people in Ukraine. You can donate to their vital work via GoFundMe. As of the 11th March, they were able to “successfully help 80 Ukrainians with disabilities cross the border and provide critical resources for their health and safety.This has been accomplished entirely due to the support of people with disabilities worldwide. Our team of volunteers has grown from three individuals to a group of over 30 people working tirelessly to do everything possible to fill the gaps and help people with disabilities in Ukraine as they fight to survive.There are many more individuals who still need evacuations, medications, and legal support. Our fight to evacuate Ukrainians with disabilities is a round the clock effort, and we sincerely appreciate each and every donation that has been made so far.”Tanya and her team need all the support they can get right now, so please do donate if you can. And please consider sharing this episode on social media so it can reach as many people as possible. I just wanted to take a moment to say a huge thank you to my premium subscribers here on Substack for making this episode possible. If you’d like to support more work like this, please consider becoming a subscriber: Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
Rethinking Recovery
09-03-2022
Rethinking Recovery
Did you know that in the founding constitution of the World Health Organisation, health is defined as:“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” As someone who's lived with chronic conditions since I was a child, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what recovery can mean. In fact, I’ve even been through the (pretty common) experience of trying to heal myself. Our current cultural understanding of recovery is pretty linear. You get sick, you go to the doctor, they give you medication, perform an operation, or put you on a treatment regimen. Time passes, and you get better. Like, you fully get back to how you were before you got sick. Or, if you’re one of the unlucky ones, you don’t make it. But what if you have a long-term condition where a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being isn’t possible? Does recovery solely have to mean a total absence of ill-health? A little while back, I stumbled across a teeny tiny book called Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence. I read the whole thing in one very short sitting, and then messaged my producer Philly telling her I must interview its author, Dr. Gavin Francis. The book is a meditation on recovery and that’s what we’ll be exploring in this week’s episode of The Rest Room podcast. It asks the question: if recovery doesn’t have to be a total absence of ill health, what should we actually be thinking about?We hear from Dr. Francis about what recovery means to him, what needs to change to give people the best chance of recovery and about how our society isn’t set up to allow people the time they need to recover. We also consider the roles our own beliefs and nature play in our health, and how you might start to reimagine or re-write your story when you live with a long-term condition. It definitely gave me a lot to think about. I hope it will give you a lot to think about too. To listen, you can just click play at the top of the email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.I wanted to take a quick moment to thank the sponsor of this episode, the Passenger Assistance App by Transreport, which takes the time and fuss out of requesting disability assistance when you travel by train in the UK. You can download the app now on iOS and Android.In next week’s premium issue of this newsletter, I’m going to be sharing what I’ve been working on when it comes to pacing, and the super specific skills, tools and tricks that help me not end my days like a zombie…when I actually do it!The Rest Room is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
How to break the boom and bust cycle, for real this time
23-02-2022
How to break the boom and bust cycle, for real this time
“I think all too often, healthcare professionals put [self-management] across in a way that kind of internalises a lot of this guilt around ‘I haven't been able to manage, so I failed at self-management.’You haven't been able to manage because you're living with something unmanageable. Complex, long-term, unpleasant health conditions are a challenge. And it's an ongoing, constantly evolving challenge.” - Jo SouthallSometimes, I can’t help but feeling like a hypocrite. I work with experts, create resources, and share my experiences of trying to navigate the self-management of long-term health conditions. I make posts sharing reminders and top tips for the good days and the bad. I know what works for me, and what (in theory) I need to do to feel at my personal best.And even with all this knowledge, I still struggle. Especially as I’m less than a month into freelance and spent the first two weeks ending every day like a zombie. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to feel that if we just worked hard enough and managed “perfectly” then our unmanageable conditions would become totally manageable. But life just doesn’t work like that. Chronic illness doesn’t work like that. And there’s so many other factors beyond ourselves which play a huge role. That’s why the quote from my Occupational Therapist, Jo Southall, at the top of this issue hit so me hard when I first heard it. It’s also why I’m excited to share the second part of our pacing conversation with you today.If you didn’t catch part 1, I highly recommend giving that a listen first. Jo explained to us what pacing actually is and how to get started with it, no matter where you’re at with your symptoms.She gave us some really useful tips to help incorporate pacing into our lives in a way that’s actually manageable and sustainable. We’ve had such amazing feedback on the episode, and I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who reached out. In today’s episode, we’re taking the pacing chat one step further. We’ll be digging deeper into the dreaded ‘boom and bust’ cycle that many of us living with long-term conditions find ourselves in, understanding how we get into “survival mode”, and learning how to slowly and sustainably move out of it.We also explore the importance of adapting to focus on what’s actually important to you, because so often it’s the things we love the most (like our hobbies) that are the first to disappear when our energy limitations increase. We also confront the fact that no matter what, no matter how well you pace, no matter how much time, work or money you put in, things don’t always go to plan. We also talk about the time it takes to make changes, and the lack of wider support available for people with long-term conditions.Annndd we also talk about how to go about pacing the big stuff and figuring out how to do those things that you know will probably make you feel rubbish…but you still want to do anyway. And, hey, maybe with some pacing tweaks, could be more manageable. There’s more stuff too, but I’ll save that for you to find out. It’s another brilliantly practical, empathetic and validating episode with Jo. I learned a lot, and found myself listening to some of the clips repeatedly over the last couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy it.To listen, you can just click play at the top of the email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.The Rest Room is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.What would help you the most?I have so many ideas and things I want to make, but I’d love to hear what would be the most helpful to you. What kind of content do you think is missing from the chronic illness sphere? What resources do you wish existed? Who should I be talking to? Feel free to reply to this email or leave a comment below (comments are for premium subscribers only)! Also, if you’re working on a cool project, are a clinician or expert in your field, or a business who would like to partner with me, please do get in touch.What I’ve been up toIn the first premium issue of this newsletter, I interviewed my pal (and climatologist) Louise Bellamy all about why the weather impacts chronic illness symptoms. Turns out it was pretty timely, as the UK was hit by terrible storms that floored so many of us. The latest issue of my newsletter for part-time (and tired!) language learners is all about finding the right teacher for you. I wrote an article for Radley’s Grow Your Own Joy campaign all about how my disability changed my relationship to fashion…and how fashion changed my relationship to my disability. The lovely Lydia Wilkins interviewed me about going freelance for her newsletter (paywalled)Thank you for reading The Rest Room. This post is public so feel free to share it.That’s all from me for today. I’ve had a difficult few days, so I’m going to listen to Jo and take things one step at a time, schedule this post, and try not to end today like a zombie. Rawr, etc. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
Pacing: A guide for people who’d rather be doing other things
09-02-2022
Pacing: A guide for people who’d rather be doing other things
Before we get started, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who signed up to my newsletter last week, and to those of you who have purchased a premium subscription. I have so many things I want to do and create, and your support will make that possible. Thank you again. If you’re interested in becoming a premium subscriber, you can get 10% off yearly membership for life using this link if you sign up before 10th February.If you’ve followed me on social media for a while, you’ll know that I have a particular interest in pacing. This is mostly because I’m naturally extremely bad at it, and I have a rather horrid habit of pushing myself too far (and thereby exacerbating by symptoms). I persist because I know there are things that I can do day-to-day that will make my life easier. Some thought, planning, and care can lead to less boom and busting, which in turns leads to less suffering, and ultimately, helps me live more. I think part of the reason I find pacing so challenging is just my personality (videos of me as a very confident yet tiny child are rather hilarious - see: the nativity pageant at school where I am on camera organising everybody in a line whilst singing Rockin’ Robin), but also that I spent the first twenty-one years of my life without a diagnosis. This meant that I grew up having to “push through” in order to try and be like everyone else. Or, I suppose, put better: to try and do all the things that I wanted to do in my life. I learned to push, push, push through. Until I couldn’t. As I got older, my body was able to tolerate the push less and less, and I found my need for recovery increasing from days to weeks to months. I felt like I’d go through phases where I’d disappear from the world, only to triumphantly reappear, push myself too far, and start the cycle all over again. In our traditional understanding of healthcare, you get a diagnosis, get medical treatment (like medication or an operation), and then get better. Or, y’know, you die. But, as I’m sure you’ll know if you’re reading this newsletter, the reality is so much more complicated than that. Indeed, for many people living with chronic conditions, there exists a medium place. Due to a number of factors, from lack of research and lack of interest, to lack of resources (to name just a few), there can be significant limits to what medical interventions are possible. And even if there are some interventions that can help, it’s not a given that people will be able to access the care and support that they need. A few years ago, during a flare-up induced mental health dip, I said to my GP “I really wish that there was somewhere I could go to get treatment. To get looked after. I’m so tired of doing all this myself”. His response? “Unfortunately, most of it is down to you and your own self-management”. And I knew that he was right. Up to a point. Professor Rodney Grahame, a rheumatologist who specialises in hypermobility once wrote (and forgive me, I can’t seem to find where I read it, it was many years ago) that EDS doesn’t have to be as disabling as it is. It seems like this is the case for so many conditions, too. After all, if people had access to timely diagnosis, adequate (although, really, we should be talking about excellent and exemplary) care, and long-term support, I firmly believe that the rate of suffering and debilitating symptoms would be significantly less. We can’t talk about the role of self-management outside without this (and I’ll be exploring this theme more in future issues).Part of the reason my health ended up declining so much was because I didn’t have appropriate care. But I still had more than most people. I took the medications and did the physio - but sadly, I didn’t respond well. When I reached the limit of what was available to me, I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. And as a result, my condition worsened. It was a vicious cycle - the worse I felt, the less I could do, the more I withdrew from life, the sadder I got, and the more deconditioned I became. It’s hard to see a way out when you’re getting worse, and even the smallest things can feel terrifying, and have a big impact on your health and quality of life.Over the last few years, I’ve had access to ongoing support to get stronger. It has taken literally five years of constant work, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s not something that I could have done alone. Beyond a PT and my osteopath, I’ve had access to mobility aids, an understanding workplace, love and support from my family and friends. I’ve had access to experts I can speak to through the process of making resources. I’ve not been in this alone. I have resources. And I still find it difficult.There’s so much information out there from medical professionals who are on the front line of challenging how we treat people with pain and other long-term conditions that struggle to present the information in a way that truly connects. That’s at the heart of a lot of the work I’ll be doing over the next few months. Translating that information for anyone who needs it. I’d love to hear what kind of things you’d find helpful - please feel free to respond to this newsletter with any suggestions or ideas.Whilst I cannot change the underlying systems, there are tools that we can utilise to help plug the gap. Tools that we can start experimenting with today, that don’t cost any money. Is it ideal? No, not really. But if there are small changes we can make that add up to less suffering day-to-day, to my mind, it’s at least a bloody good place to start. The Rest Room is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.That leads us back to today’s topic, pacing. For most of my adult life, I was told two contradictory things by medical professionals: first, that I needed to keep as active as possible and keep as much movement and activity in my life as I could, and second, I also needed to pace and not overdo it. It was confusing. No one ever told me what those things actually meant or how to go about figuring that stuff out in the best way that would work for my life - and all the things I wanted to do with it.So for years I tried my very best to juggle these two contradictory ideas, which didn’t end up working out super well for me. I would go through phases where I pushed myself to extremes, only to have to take to my bed for months on end to recover. But then, apparently, I wasn’t even doing that right. I specifically remember being told off by my physio for resting in bed but using my brain to work on projects on my computer and thinking “what does she want from me? Am I literally supposed to just lie here and do nothing?!” These fears were only exacerbated when a pain management psychologist told me I had to expect less of myself in my life. Looking back, it was probably a badly phrased attempt to tell me to be kinder to myself, but that’s absolutely not how I took it, and it sent me into a spiral.  That cycle continued over and over again, and every time I crashed I felt more demoralised. What was I supposed to do? Should I just spend significant periods of my time literally just in bed staring at a wall? Is that what they meant by pacing? Turns out, no. Not that they communicated that to me. On Boxing Day 2020, I took my first pacing masterclass with Occupational Therapist, Jo Southall. She blew my mind and helped me reformulate how I think about energy management. I left the session thinking that if everybody who got diagnosed with a long-term condition had access to someone like Jo pretty damn soon after they were diagnosed, it could be a total game-changer. What she told me wasn’t complicated. Once you hear it, it makes so much sense. Living, truly living, isn’t just about medication and physiotherapy. But the medical interventions are so focussed on purely symptom management, and it’s not a given that they’ll work anyway, that life…just takes a back seat. And that’s what is so often missing from these conversations, isn’t it? The living. Which is why I’m delighted that Jo has joined me for the latest episode of The Rest Room podcast. It’s called “Pacing: A guide for people who’d rather be doing other things” and it’s part one of a two-part conversation I had with Jo. In this episode Jo shares her tips on how to introduce pacing into your life in a way that’s both manageable and sustainable - no matter where you’re at with your symptoms. I found this episode incredibly helpful, and I even sent some sneaky clips to friends to listen to, because there’s so much insightful advice that we really needed to hear and implement!You can listen directly from this email. If you scroll up to the top, you’ll see a sneaky little audio player. Just click the play button and it’ll pop open in a window for you! You can also listen on Apple, Spotify and Amazon. Hopefully Google too, but I’ve had some trouble with transferring over here to Substack. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.What else have I been up to?This time last year, I started learning Yiddish. The amazing folks over at In Geveb, the Yiddish journal, asked me to write about my experiences of trying to learn a language with chronic illness. Speaking of language learning, one of the biggest things that has helped me be able to learn a language, even during a flare-up, has been learning how to learn languages. Luckily, I had a clever clogs linguist pal, Dr. Colin Gorrie, to walk me through it. This stuff really blew my mind, which is why we started a newsletter that’s all about offering science-based strategies for part-time language learners. If you want to learn a language, or are in the process of learning one now, check out “How Do You Say…” to help make that process a whole lot easier (and more fun!) I had a little bit of a nightmare with transferring some things over, which ended up taking way more time than anticipated, so I’m going to leave this issue here for today. I really hope you find the episode helpful. We had such a great response to the blog series we did together, so I was really excited to work with her again for this podcast. I personally found Jo’s tips life-changing - I hope you can get as much out of it as I did. And I just want to say a big thank you to CareCo for sponsoring the podcast, to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts (and to Ollie for helping me with my panic over transferring the podcast to Substack!) and Amit Rai for the episode art and the intro music. Thank you for reading The Rest Room. This post is public so please feel free to share it. Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
How To Read More When You Live With Chronic Illness
02-02-2021
How To Read More When You Live With Chronic Illness
Struggling with reading is something that can be really upsetting to many people, so last year I took to my Instagram Stories to find out what your biggest challenges are when it comes to reading, and what has helped you find a way to make it more accessible. Helpfully, and perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the reading issues that people shared can be broken down into a handful of categories:🧠 Concentration and processing🌩️ Physical issues/pain😫 Energy🕰️ Making timeWe're going to cover a bunch of tips, tricks, and ways of thinking and approaching reading that I hope will help you!It’s worth remembering that everybody reads at a different pace. Some people are extremely quick readers and the only things they struggle with are the impact of specific chronic illness symptoms. Others may have bigger challenges on top of that. I am someone who is naturally an extremely quick reader and writer, and that’s something that I’m eternally grateful for. This gives me automatic advantages when it comes to tackling these issues because my barrier to entry is already much lower. I’m thankful for everyone across the reading spectrum who has shared their experiences to help widen the scope of this piece of work. We'll be covering topics like pacing (I know, but it's two different ways of thinking about it!), why reading is reading is reading is reading, different methods of reading, helpful resources, making physical books easier to read, the tracking trap, reflecting on your own experiences, and much more. I'd love to hear about your relationship with reading: how do you find it, how does your chronic illness impact it, and what tools have you learned that help you?You can find me on socials: www.instagram.com/ NatashaLipmanwww.twitter.com/NatashaLipman Cover Art: @MimiButlinEditing and music: Amit RaiBlog post: Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
How to learn a language with a chronic illness
11-01-2021
How to learn a language with a chronic illness
I’m joined by one of my best friends in the world, Colin Gorrie. Or should I say Dr. Colin Gorrie.Colin is a linguist and lifelong language learner. These days he works on bringing knowledge of language and linguistics to a wider audience online. Colin also lives with EDS and experiences a lot of brain fog and fatigue, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to sit down and have a chat about some of the challenges of language learning when your brain doesn’t really retain information in the way that you’d like.You may know that about a month ago I started learning Yiddish. II honestly don’t think it would be happening or going as well as it is if Colin hadn’t spent hours blowing my mind with how the way we often approach language learning…is not…great.And that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing:🌟 How people currently learn languages🌟 Whether there is a better way (spoiler alert, there is!)🌟 Figuring out our motivations for language learning and how to get started🌟 Getting the most bang for your language learning (and energy) buck🌟 Ways to take some of the pressure off and make language learning fun🌟 How to think about pacing and retention of information when it comes to language acquisition As always, language learning may not be something that you're interested in, or you have the ability to do at the moment. This information is here for people who can make use of it!-----BLOG POST: TO COLIN'S COURSE (10% DISCOUNT): music and editing by Amit Rai Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
How to Start Exercising when Everything Hurts
19-12-2020
How to Start Exercising when Everything Hurts
Welcome to Episode 3 of The Rest Room!In the last episode, we looked at ways to address the barriers that come up when figuring out how to start incorporating movement and exercise into your life.We learned that we need to throw the whole ‘workout’ mentality in the bin, especially if movement is new to you, but we didn’t cover how to get started in really practical, tangible ways.Whether you have little confidence in your body’s ability to do the things that you need (and want!) to do day-to-day, or you struggle to find a way to make movement a sustainable part of your life, this episode is for you!Our aim is to help you find a way to move that feels safe, and that you’re confident you can stick with, even if it needs to be adapted on more challenging days. There is no doubt that this work is hard. It takes courage, patience and persistence. I hope this will give you a really tangible place to start thinking about your own movement practice. Remember, It doesn’t matter how slowly you need to go. If you're consistent, you’ll still be building habits that will hopefully enable you to do what matters in your life.*One thing I forgot to mention in the episode is that when you're figuring out what your "normal" is, it's important to seek help if something new pops up, even if you have learned coping strategies! I talk about this more in the blog post*WORKSHEET DOWNLOAD: BLOG POST: Lucy DoveEditing and music: Amit Rai Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe
What are your barriers to moving with chronic pain?
05-09-2020
What are your barriers to moving with chronic pain?
Changing behaviour can be really hard, even at the best of times.How many of you have embarked on a new fitness regime to help with your health condition, only to stop within a day, a week, or a month?That could be because of pain, fatigue, lack of confidence, lack of support, or one of many other reasons.We often underestimate the difficulties we’ll encounter when we try to break a habit or introduce something new into our lives.In today's episode we're focussing on all those barriers to movement, specifically:- The difference between a blip and an actual set back- How fixed thoughts can stand in our way- Celebrating small wins and setting realistic goals- Taking the first step towards building a movement habit- Understanding why dose matters- Thinking about movement in the wider context of your life- Planning for when things don't go to planThinking about movement and exercise can be particularly challenging when you don’t have access to the adequate care that you need.So, I’ve once again partnered up with the brilliant Claire Campbell from the Physiotherapy Pain Association to share the latest evidence-based information that will help you be able to take some of those first steps by yourself in a safe and sustainable way, and help you to become a more informed and active participant in your care.Claire also lives with chronic pain, so she “gets this” in more ways than one!This post still forms part of our introduction - so we may touch on some concepts, tools, and tips that we will be expanding on in the future. There’s just a bunch of stuff that we think is important for you to keep in mind before you start trying to make any changes. We hope that this will get you thinking about how your own barriers may be impacting you and your life, and we’ll be sharing some tips for breaking habits that may have formed for very important and legitimate reasons, but may not be helping you anymore.READ THE BLOG POST: MENTIONED:Interview with Dr. Whitney Scott: (Overcoming FEAR): to find me: Twitter/Instagram @natashalipmanwww.natashalipman.comThank you for taking the time to listen and for your support! Get full access to The Rest Room at natashalipman.substack.com/subscribe