There are moments in life when time seems to stop, such as when you enjoy a spectacular view or are mesmerised by a beautiful song. However, this stretching of time isn’t only associated with good times. It can also happen when receiving a serious health diagnosis, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
In many instances, a condition can appear out of the blue, disrupting your life and leaving you feeling overwhelmed with sadness, grief and despair. You may try to make sense of the distressing event and ask repeatedly why such a thing is happening to you. These are all normal responses when faced with an illness that threatens your life. It feels like the whole world is crashing down. But you can move forward and learn to adjust and cope with this new situation.
Understand your diagnosis
People often fear what they don’t understand, so learning about your health condition can empower you to move forward. Address any questions you have with your doctor, whether related to the physical symptoms of the illness or treatment. Also, consider asking them to recommend how to learn more about your health condition.
While you may want to use the Internet to understand your diagnosis, it’s vital to ensure you stick to reputable sources; otherwise, you may end up reading scary and incorrect information that will only make you feel worse. Getting informed on your illness upon first diagnosis is essential, but it may be challenging to comprehend the information due to the shock. In that case, you can bring a family member to appointments and ask them to take notes, or if your doctor allows, you can record the consultation and review it later when you feel less overwhelmed. It can be difficult to ask questions about your illness, but learning as much as possible about it will ultimately help you feel more in control and give you confidence about the future.
Allow yourself to feel all the emotions
Facing a serious illness comes with a lot of emotions, and many patients often think they have to put on a brave face and force themselves to be positive. Perhaps you’ve learned that you must always be strong, but you don’t have to act like you’re fine when you are not – that will only invalidate your reality. Not only can it be truly exhausting, but it also won’t benefit you in any way – in fact, it may be detrimental to recovery. For instance, studies have shown that being cheerful doesn’t really result in successful treatment for patients with cancer. Bottling up emotions only increases your pain and stress levels, affecting your mental health in the long run.
On the other hand, facing your feelings, no matter how fearful they are, will ease your suffering, allowing you to come to terms with your illness and become more resilient as you start working towards recovery. It’s ok not to be ok, so let your emotions be there. Be angry. Be sad. That doesn’t mean you’re weak; it only means you’re a human being going through one of the most difficult things one can experience in life.
When facing a life-threatening diagnosis, the initial impulse is to retreat into your shell and cut off people. This may be because you don’t want to feel like a burden or because you believe they won’t understand what you’re experiencing anyway. However, isolating yourself from others won’t do you any good. Social support is vital in life, but this is especially true when coping with a medical condition. Staying connected to people can make a great difference in your outlook as you get treatment, so confide in those you know will listen actively and give you compassion. It can also be helpful to join a support group, as this offers you a safe place to share your experience and get coping tips from those with the same health condition. However, besides support from your loved ones, you may also need to seek the help of a therapist. If you feel stuck and find it hard to navigate this situation alone, a mental health professional can help you process your emotions and provide useful tools to help you cope.
In some instances, support may also come from a legal professional. For instance, patients sometimes get misdiagnosed or receive a late diagnosis of their illness. Such medical errors can have devastating consequences, delaying treatment or worsening the condition. When such a thing happens, it’s essential to be compensated for all the physical and financial suffering you experienced due to a doctor’s negligence. Please visit https://www.accidentclaims.co.uk/clinical-medical-negligence-claims/misdiagnosis-compensation-claims to learn more about how to claim compensation for a misdiagnosis. It’s important to turn to a legal expert if you’re a victim of medical negligence, as they will help you deal with the legal aspects as you get to focus on your treatment.
Pursue activities that nourish your soul
Receiving a serious health diagnosis can initially make it seem like life is pointless. However, in time, many patients discover that facing an illness has helped them focus on what truly matters. As Victor Frankl showed in his book Man’s search for ultimate meaning, people can find the power within themselves to transform adversity.
So, keep pursuing activities that bring you joy and purpose, and if your medical condition doesn’t allow you to do the things you once enjoyed, look for other ways to enrich your spirit. For instance, you can:
- Learn a foreign language or how to play an instrument;
- Volunteer for a cause you deeply care about;
- Connect with nature by walking in the park or taking a hike;
- Immerse yourself in art, whether that means going to your favourite concert or visiting a museum;
- Write a blog or a book about your life experiences.
A medical diagnosis is life-altering, so it’s common to experience a lot of emotions after receiving such devastating news. Although you may initially have a hard time coping with the diagnosis, the truth is that humans are incredibly resilient, so you will regain control as you learn how to find meaning even in the darkest times.
This is a submitted article