You can already tell: it’s going to be one of those days. Your symptoms are spiking, it’s impossible to focus on anything and you’ll be lucky if you make it out of bed. On days like these, sometimes it just helps to feel understood. Other times, a motivating kick in the pants is what’s required. That’s where podcasts come in.
Isolation can be a major side effect of chronic illness, but fortunately, podcasts are trying to change that. Just ask Michael James, an avid podcast listener who has lived with a balance disorder for over 19 years,.
“Probably the best thing about the Internet has been that it connects people who may have previously felt completely isolated and alone, and this is especially true for people with health challenges,” he says. “At their best, health-related podcasts remind me that I’m not alone; relax or shift my mood and/or perspective; and clear new paths for thinking about my health challenges.”
Here are some of our favorite podcasts for people managing chronic health conditions.
What it is: According to founder Harper Spero, “Made Visible is a podcast that gives a voice to people with invisible illnesses. The podcast aims to change the conversation around invisible illnesses, helping those who experience them —whether as patients, caregivers, or friends or family members — feel more seen and heard.”
What to expect: A 40-ish minute interview with an individual about their invisible illness, how they cope and what they’ve been able to achieve despite their setbacks. Recent topics included Job’s syndrome, depression, addiction and narcolepsy. Listener Jennifer Rapp comments, “The openness of Harper and her guests gives me insight into the experiences of those who are managing illnesses in their lives. I feel a great sense of gratitude for the generosity of the guests sharing their stories.”
Good for: Hearing about other people’s journeys with chronic conditions.
The One You Feed
What is is: This podcast is based on a parable about two wolves and how the one you “feed” is the one that survives.
What to expect: Host Eric Zimmer begins each episode by asking the guest for his or her interpretation of the parable. Then the interview continues, focusing on how other people keep themselves moving in the right direction. Topics center on mind-body connection, wisdom, motivation, and philosophy.
Good for: While not specifically a podcast about health conditions, this is a fantastic one to tune in to when you need to work on your mindfulness.
What it is: Three friends get together in this podcast to break down the stigma associated with illness and disease.
What to expect: Irreverent, funny and graphic, this podcast makes you feel like you’re instant friends with the hosts and their guests. A warning, though: it can be medically graphic and cringe-inducing. This is one of our favorites: “I appreciate how dark humor can help shift my perspective on what is a pretty unfunny situation (chronic illness),” says Michael James.
Good for: when you need to laugh about the situations that occur from chronic illness.
Invisible Not Broken
What it is: Host Monica Michelle describes Invisible Not Broken as “a podcast that interviews people with chronic and often invisible illness along with panel episodes about issues that affect us with disabilities.”
What to expect: A casual, hour-long conversation covering a range of topics—from sexuality to travel to holiday survival—all within the parameters of invisible illness. Episodes are often filled with practical tips and advice, like good gift recommendations for “spoonies,” (people with chronic illness) and how to travel.
Good for: when you feel like sitting with friends and chatting.
Mental Illness Happy Hour
What it is: Whether you suffer from mental illness on its own or as a side condition to another chronic ailment, Mental Illness Happy Hour was designed to make you not feel so alone. Comedian Paul Gilmartin aims to break down the stigma associated with anxiety, depression, phobias and more and brings the listener into a welcoming cocoon of solidarity.
What to expect: Each episode lasts at least an hour, and contains an interview with a guest who discusses his or her own particular struggles. Paul then reads listener mail and discusses issues such as shame, keeping secrets, and struggling with depression.
Good for: when you need to feel like there are other people out there who struggle.