Coping With a Chronic Illness With Psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb

lori gottlieb

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Lori Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and a "New York Times" bestselling author. Her books, including "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone," have been translated into 20 languages.

She’s also a contributor to "The Atlantic" where she writes a regular column called “Dear Therapist.” She co-hosts a podcast with Guy Winch, called "Dear Therapists," where they respond to listeners’ problems and walk them through therapy sessions with actionable advice.

Why Lori Gottlieb Is Mentally Strong

Most therapists are comfortable listening to other people’s stories and far less comfortable sharing their own stories. But Lori was very willing to share her personal story when she wrote "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone."

In it, she shared how therapy helped her life when she reached out for help after a difficult breakup. She was open about the mistakes she was making and how therapy helped her to change the story she was telling herself. 

One of the things Lori also shared was that she’s struggled with a mysterious illness for years. She struggled to get a clear diagnosis for the symptoms she was experiencing. Now, she’s talking about how to cope with a chronic illness.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • How chronic illness can impact psychological well-being
  • Why we put so much emphasis on health and what it means when you “don’t have your health”
  • Why writing a letter to your illness can be a powerful, healing exercise
  • How to talk to people who dismiss your feelings or minimize your illness
  • How to become an advocate for yourself
  • Why it’s so helpful to get a diagnosis for your symptoms
  • How to support someone else who has a chronic illness

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Lori talks about how invalidating it can be to get advice from someone who doesn’t understand your illness. A well-meaning person might tell you “You should start going to sleep earlier at night,” or they might say, “You should really avoid carbs. Then, you’d feel better.” 

But those sorts of comments can be quite harmful. It minimizes the individual’s experience. That’s why a lot of people with chronic illnesses start therapy—they want to be heard and validated.

It’s tough to open up to someone about your struggles but talking about the things you’re going through can help you grow mentally stronger.

It’s important, however, to ensure the people you are talking to are really able to listen with an empathetic ear. That’s why support groups, therapy, and even online forums can be really helpful when you’re going through tough times.

Quotes From Lori

Lori Gottlieb, MFT

There's no hierarchy of illness. You have what you have and you have the struggles that you have.

— Lori Gottlieb, MFT
  • "I really want to encourage people that if they feel like something isn't right with their health, that they go to a doctor who is going to take them seriously and [will] really listen and get to the bottom of what is going on."
  • "Six out of ten Americans are dealing with a chronic illness. If you don't have experience with that yourself, you know someone who does. You might not even know that you know someone who does."
  • "People tend to hide because they feel shame or they feel embarrassed or they feel like no one will understand. But the only way that people will understand is if you educate them."

More About the Podcast

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Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you. 

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.