Published: 03/05/2010
ISBN: 9781848762091
Format: Paperback

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About the Author

Kath was once a roller-skating tomboy. She became a swimmer, hill-walker, cyclist and skier. Rather later the active, outdoor life became more difficult. Kath is now someone who, among other aspects... read more

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Keeping Balance
A psychologist’s experience of chronic illness and disability
by Katherine Cuthbert

This memoir provides a personal account of living with Multiple Sclerosis, rooted in psychological knowledge.

In the summer of 1993, Katherine Cuthbert, with her husband Pete, was coming to the end of a cycling holiday in Bavaria. Suddenly her left leg was giving way and she was soon having considerable difficulty walking. Two months later she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was facing the challenge of coping with an uncertain future and possibly increasing disability. Her book provides a personal memoir about trying to live well in difficult circumstances. It draws on a number of aspects of her earlier experience.

Kath’s earlier life had been an active one – walking and skiing as well as cycling. Getting out into natural and beautiful environments had been an essential part of her recreation. A major concern after the MS diagnosis has been to maintain mobility. Cycling – differently – has come to be crucial. A handcycle now enables Kath to get into the countryside. A tricycle with electric motor assistance is useful for trips into town, and a ‘husband assisted’ tandem tricycle enables longer rides along the local lanes and beyond. Keeping up an active life is vital physically – but also psychologically.

Most significantly for her new life, Kath is a psychologist, having taught the subject at degree level for twenty-five years. The major theme, through her book, is that psychological understanding can make a contribution to practical coping with chronic illness. Issues considered include matters of threatened identity but also acceptance; the difficulty of disclosure and the possibility of stigma; depression but also ‘mindfulness’ and optimism.

This is a book for people with MS. It is also a book for those who have other chronic diseases. Beyond that, it is a book for anyone facing challenges in their life – and, to a degree, that is most of us.

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