Receiving a diagnosis for some chronic illness is understandably life-altering news to hear, and in a lot of cases a chronic illness is unfortunately something that will be present for the remainder of one’s life. There are often viable treatment options that are able to manage plenty of chronic illnesses, but this does not negate from the fact that it might still affect your day-to-day life and present physical, mental, and emotional obstacles that you will need to face. It is perfectly normal to feel lost in a sense or to not know what your next steps should be once you learn of your chronic illness, and you may feel uncertain with how to cope with this old or new information you now have. Your mental health and overall quality of life should not have to suffer because of a diagnosis, so we have curated some points to follow that can assist you in coping with a lifelong illness.
When you first discover that you are facing a lifelong illness, you might be met with a sense of hopelessness that will make you want to get complacent since there is no solidified cure for your illness. Research has shown that those who do not get complacent following the news of their diagnosis end up coping substantially better in the long run than those who do. It is vital to process the fact that you are dealing with a lifelong illness and to grieve or do whatever feels right to do, but your diagnosis does not have to become what you identify as and rule over every aspect of your being and evading the reality of what is going on will not end up benefiting you. You can hopefully still manage the symptoms of your condition and enjoy everything you did before you were aware of your illness, and this will likely result in a much higher quality of life overall.
It’s easy to grasp how living with a chronic illness can feel isolating to someone, especially when there is no one else they immediately know that is facing something similar. Thankfully we are living in a digital age that offers a wide array of resources that can help us discover and attend support groups or therapy in an accessible manner. There are countless support groups out there that can unite you with others that are also dealing with lifelong illnesses, and there are surely even ones that are offered that deal with the specific illness that you are living with, as well. The community and support that groups and therapy can provide is unmatched, and will make you feel more empowered, inspired, and better equipped to navigate through these circumstances. It’s also important to ensure that you keep the right company around from here on out and to avoid negative people or individuals that you do not feel have your best interest in mind, as well.
While there is nothing that can instantaneously change your circumstances and alter the reality of what is going on, what you can do is choose to focus on the meaningful things in your life that are significant and special to you. You can fully immerse yourself in an interest or activity that you already enjoyed prior to your diagnosis, or you can take this as an opportunity to search around and find new hobbies and passions that bring about a sense of pure joy that makes you feel alive in the highest sense. Filling your days with abundant love and the qualities that you are grateful for in life will always provide more benefits to you than choosing to ignore and shut these things out. It’s incredible how healing concentrating on the meaningful aspects of life can be, and it will allow for you to shift your mind from a place that is potentially pessimistic and feeling hopeless to one that sees that you can still find beauty and excitement in the things that you enjoy.
One of the worst parts about chronic illness is the fact that it can feel like it has taken something away from you without your permission – in this case your health – and this loss of control might make it feel as if it is impossible to cope with these new conditions. If this is the case, reclaim your power and try to focus on the things you can control. This can be your diet, the amount that you exercise, the people you put your precious energy into, the way you spend your free time – really any situation in which you can make changes to better your personal circumstances. If need be, set boundaries with others or with work, if feasible, because at the end of the day the most important thing is always your health and how you feel, which should be protected as much as possible when you are facing a chronic illness.
Whether you have just learned of a chronic and lifelong illness you are facing or have been dealing with it for a while now, there are bound to be times when you do not feel great about the circumstances or as if you are coping in the healthiest manner possible. Things like dealing with an illness is not going to be linear and there will likely be ups and downs, but you can hopefully pull from the wide range of coping tips and tricks that are offered online and through attending therapy and meeting with support groups. Doing everything that you can to maintain an optimal state of physical and mental health will make all the difference, and the lifelong illness you’re facing never has to define you if you do not wish for it to.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a recent diagnosis, do not hesitate to reach out to our team of compassionate and qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management, our highly qualified team specializes in anxiety and depression in children, adolescents, and adults. In-person appointments are available to patients in the Southlake (DFW) area. Online appointments are available to patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio areas.