Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

If Anne Lamott said it…It must be true!

I feel fortunate to be following the work of Anne Lamott for 20 years.  I first heard her when I lived in the Bay Area and she was an ongoing guest on KQED, public radio.  She was discussing her book, “Operating Instructions”, documenting her experience with her newborn son, Sam during his first year of life.  I found the sequence of interviews to be refreshing, funny, and provocative.

I’ve read many of Anne Lamott’s books over the years, mainly those pertaining to spirituality or her books about a writer’s life.  I was thrilled to see that she was coming up with a sequel to “Operating Instructions” because her style and perspective is refreshing.  “Some Assembly Required” chronicles the first year of her son Sam’s life with a son of his own and the relationship of the entire family.

As usual Lamott’s words are insightful, funny, and thought provoking.  Then I got stopped in my tracks when I read the following, “Silence brings you to a place where all of a sudden you’re not in the mental ping-pong game.”  I’d never heard racing thoughts described as a ping-pong game, but for me it was so accurate in its description.

Since your diagnosis, what has the ping-pong game been like in your head?  What actions do you take to try and stop the volley between the rational and emotive parts of your being?  I know from personal experience, while waiting for test results or another doctor’s appointment, that the ping-pong game is exhausting.

What is it about silence that stops the ping-pong game?  I’ve been thinking about this and one of my own explanations is that when everything around you is silent you get to see how loud everything around you resonates.  We get distracted by all the noise and don’t really know how prominent the noise is and how it disrupts our lives.  When we are in silence we can work to eliminate the chatter, the negative dialogues that get in the way of your health and healing.

It takes dedicated energy to allow the quiet to prevail because so many of us are in desperate need of a distraction following the diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness.  When we can sit in the silence and stop the ping-pong game we can work toward calm.  We can begin the journey to health and healing!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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