Barbara Appelbaum has lived through, and with, some significant challenges in her life. Diagnosed with MS in her early forties, she’s taken an integrative approach to treating the disease. She also made some huge life changes in response to her diagnosis, including becoming a wellness coach.

In her newest book, Be Your Own Superhero: A Road Map to Resilience When Faced with Chronic Dis-ease, Appelbaum shares her experience and plenty of good advice.

When she and her siblings were kids, her parents did something with them called The Panic Game. After dinner, they would come up with various worst case scenarios. Then it would be up to the kids to imagine the ways they might solve them. The goal was to give them positive solutions that they’d remember if confronted with a panic-worthy situation. Applebaum says this tradition gave her the moxie to face her new diagnosis head-on.

Applebaum uses the acronym G.I.F.T. to highlight her key recommendations.

G = Get Clear
I = Increase Understanding
F = Focus
T = Take Action

It’s these techniques that become the heart of the book and the roadmap to resilience. Incorporating stories from other patients with chronic illness, Applebaum explains both the theory and practice of resilience.

My conclusions:

On the whole, Appelbaum’s ideas aren’t new. She encourages moving more, eating healthier foods, getting enough sleep, and many other strategies. But her organization and flow from beginning panic to lasting resilience is clear.

I’m intrigued by the Panic Game and even wonder if it’s a good thing for grown-ups to “play.” Life is so uncertain sometimes, and thinking about how you’d successfully manage a crisis could tamp down the feelings of overwhelm.

In terms of writing style, Appelbaum uses a conversational style. But she also uses a lot of OPW (other people’s wisdom), which can become tedious when overdone. But despite a few writing quirks, I found this to be a positive and encouraging approach to living with chronic illness.

I’d recommend it to someone receiving their first diagnosis of chronic disease. Especially if they’re interested in taking a holistic or integrative wellness approach to living with their condition.


Many thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.