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How to Cope with Major Life Changes

Dealing with a Serious Illness

Why it's scary: Just getting the flu for a week is disorienting enough. But when big health problems strike, you realize how vulnerable you are and the future no longer seems so certain. When Teme Ring developed chronic fatigue syndrome, her law career was sidelined. Many days, Ring was so exhausted she could barely get out of bed, and she had to cut back on most of the activities she enjoyed with her two sons. "I went from feeling like a Super Mom to feeling like a Pooper Mom," Ring says.

How to deal: Give yourself time to grieve. "We can't move on until we honor what's gone," says Borysenko. "You can't jump past the fact that you've lost your sense of invincibility." It's okay to cry and rage; bottled-up emotions will only break through later on, usually at awkward times in embarrassing ways.

Instant sanity-saver: Cliched as it sounds, laughter is wonderful medicine. To keep herself in high spirits, Ring read books by writers like Dave Barry and watched old Saturday Night Live sketches and variety shows on cable. Embracing her love for the stage, she even took a stand-up comedy class, which taught her more about the power of seeing the bright side. "As often as possible I ask myself, 'What's funny about this?'" she says. "I'm not always able to find something, but when I can, it builds my strength for the times I can't."

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