4 Tips For Coping With Serious Illness
The news of any illness can be shocking and difficult to handle. The onset of this type of bad news can be especially difficult when the symptoms start slow and seem insignificant. Although, you may feel alone after hearing this type of information serious illness especially mental illness is more common than you think. For example, according to the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH almost 1 in 5 adults or more than 46 million people are diagnosed with mental illness (NIMH, 2019). The onset of mental illness such as other types of physical challenges all share one component in common, they do not happen alone. In other words, separating yourself from your challenges while seemingly the smart thing to do is impossible because all the systems of your life are intertwined. The best move after receiving the diagnosis of a serious illness is to reach out for support and try some of these tips.
1. Do your research
The idea of doing your research about an illness could seem obvious but this could be a good first step to identify the challenges you may face. As a clinician I have learned that anxiety lives in the unknown and breeds in situations that are seemingly out of control. In response, doing your research on symptoms, conditions and most importantly the proper medical professionals can make a world of difference in your recovery.
2. Stay connected to family and friends.
The idea of sharing your bad news with the people close to you may be scary and overwhelming but this could also be a very powerful tool. For example, think of a time when you made a mistake or made a poor decision what was your first thought, for most people this is please do not find out. While that response is appropriate certain situations, withholding information can lead to shame. Consequently, the onset of shame can create a significant barrier between you and your recovery. The reason why shame is so harmful is like anxiety it takes your focus from getting better and puts it on how people perceive you. In turn, try to find a good friend or trust worthy family member because in reality everyone is dealing with some type of life challenges and will need support sometime in their lives.
3. Incorporate some relaxing activities that promote healthy coping.
The experience of receiving difficult news about an illness is devastating and could potentially steal all your attention. The truth is that response is normal because taking on a challenge that makes our lives more difficult is a great idea but please do not forget to breath. In other words, yes, the illness is now part of your life but there were many other things that were part of your life prior to your diagnosis and try to keep them around. For example, simple things such as music have been proven to reduce feelings of pain and has even been considered beneficial before surgery to improve a patient’s outlook (Heid, 2018).
4. Reach out to a professional for help
The thought of reaching out to a professional for help is daunting but this is potentially the best decision you will make. The challenge of going through an illness is difficult and could worsen depending on the circumstances of other challenges in your life. The addition of a professional or a team of professionals can help ease the burden on you and let you focus on recovery.
NIMH. (2019). Mental Illness Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml
Heid, M. (2018). You asked: Is Listening to Music Good for Your Health? Retrieved from: http://time.com/5254381/listening-to-music-health-benefits/