Mar 9 • 41M

Rethinking Recovery

Do we need to bring back the lost art of convalescence?

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Natasha Lipman
Welcome to The Rest Room: a place to explore what it means to live (and live well) with chronic illness.
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Did you know that in the founding constitution of the World Health Organisation, health is defined as:

“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”

As someone who's lived with chronic conditions since I was a child, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what recovery can mean. In fact, I’ve even been through the (pretty common) experience of trying to heal myself.

Our current cultural understanding of recovery is pretty linear. You get sick, you go to the doctor, they give you medication, perform an operation, or put you on a treatment regimen. Time passes, and you get better. Like, you fully get back to how you were before you got sick. Or, if you’re one of the unlucky ones, you don’t make it. 

But what if you have a long-term condition where a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being isn’t possible? Does recovery solely have to mean a total absence of ill-health? 

A little while back, I stumbled across a teeny tiny book called Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence. I read the whole thing in one very short sitting, and then messaged my producer Philly telling her I must interview its author, Dr. Gavin Francis.

The book is a meditation on recovery and that’s what we’ll be exploring in this week’s episode of The Rest Room podcast. It asks the question: if recovery doesn’t have to be a total absence of ill health, what should we actually be thinking about?

We hear from Dr. Francis about what recovery means to him, what needs to change to give people the best chance of recovery and about how our society isn’t set up to allow people the time they need to recover. We also consider the roles our own beliefs and nature play in our health, and how you might start to reimagine or re-write your story when you live with a long-term condition. 

It definitely gave me a lot to think about. I hope it will give you a lot to think about too.


To listen, you can just click play at the top of the email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.


I wanted to take a quick moment to thank the sponsor of this episode, the Passenger Assistance App by Transreport, which takes the time and fuss out of requesting disability assistance when you travel by train in the UK. You can download the app now on iOS and Android.

In next week’s premium issue of this newsletter, I’m going to be sharing what I’ve been working on when it comes to pacing, and the super specific skills, tools and tricks that help me not end my days like a zombie…when I actually do it!

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