Receiving a difficult diagnoses is like being shot in the chest. It takes your breath away, and there’s a strong feeling of disbelief. Coming to terms with a chronic illness or life-changing diagnoses is a true test of character. Everyone reacts differently, and it’s impossible to predict how you will cope until it happens. Once that initial feeling of shock slowly fades, it’s time to face the illness and battle it. Whatever changes you are required to make, it’s time to make them. We understand that this is one of the most difficult things you will ever do. With that in mind, here’s a short step-by-step process to coping with a difficult diagnoses.
Acceptance – Many patients struggle to even accept those difficult words. Whether it’s cancer or a chronic illness like epilepsy, diabetes or COPD, our first response is disbelief. We understand that the news may take time to sink in, but it’s crucial that you face it head on. In order to adjust and continue a normal life, you’ve got to accept your illness and fight it. Rallying against the disease will only force you into a downward spiral. Accept it, face it, and fight it.
Knowledge and understanding – The scariest thing about a difficult diagnoses is the lack of understanding. There is a fundamental and devastating change happening inside your body, and that’s scary. One way to reduce the fear is understanding. Learn everything there is to know about your condition. Understand exactly what it’s doing to your body. Learn about the medical equipment involved in treating you, and how the medicine will affect you. When you understand more about the condition, it’s easier to face.
Support – To get through the difficult lifestyle changes ahead, you’ll need a strong support network. There are two main sources of support here. The first is your family and friends. They can help you alter your lifestyle to cope with the condition. They can also provide a supportive ear, and listen to your worries and concerns. They’ll make you laugh, and keep you smiling, even during the tough moments. The second support system is a group with a similar diagnosis. Often, the only people who can truly understand what you’re going through are those in the same boat. You’ll get answers to your medical questions and share stories of hope. Most chronic conditions have support groups; find yours.
Make a plan – As we mentioned before, it is the fear of the unknown that scares most patients. More than that, it’s a loss of control over your body. By making a plan, you can put all your doubts and worries in plain view. Having a plan gives you something to work towards. It gives you a clear, defined method of dealing with your condition. An action plan gives you control of your own body. That power gives you the emotional strength to deal with the diagnosis.
Most of all, you’ve got to fight! Acceptance is the first stage; from there it’s all about taking back the control and fighting your condition. For some, it can be beaten and treated. For others, it will be a life-long battle, but if you stay strong, you’ll always win.