Preventing Overwhelm When Given A Serious Diagnosis Includes Learning About Your Condition, Acknowledging Your Emotions, And Avoiding Isolation
Your doctor has just confirmed your worst fears about your health. Shock, questions, and worries flood your mind. Pegasus caregivers in Shadow Hills and elsewhere offer these suggestions for preventing overwhelm when given a serious diagnosis.
Accidents, heart attacks, and strokes are all conditions that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. What’s next if you are diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes? Or a life-threatening illness such as cancer?
These and other serious diagnoses potentially change your life forever. You may have to come to grips with your mortality. Or you may be facing a lifetime of treatments.
You have new challenges to face. Things that were certain are now uncertain. Finding your way can be as overwhelming as the medical condition itself.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Although the diagnosis is of a physical condition, it impacts your mental and emotional health as well. Although everyone reacts differently, common emotions include:
- Anger or frustration that it happened to you
- Anxiety and depression
- Denial that this is happening to you
- Fear about what will happen next
- Feeling isolated when family and friends don’t understand
- Grief about the loss of your health and the life you had
- Guilt that you may be at fault in some way
- Hopelessness about the loss of control over your life
- Worry about finances, treatment, or your family
It’s crucial that you don’t beat up on yourself for your thoughts or emotions. There is no right way or wrong way to process bad news.
You’ll likely be caught up in a flurry of medical appointments, tests, and consultations. If at all possible, give yourself some time to catch your breath. Other than in emergencies, you need a chance to think and consider everything before making decisions.
It’s imperative that you remember who you are, and not let your medical condition define you. You are not your disease–you are an individual who has a disease.
Your diagnosis may affect others in your family, friends, or work associates. You are not obligated to tell anyone details. Reveal only what you’re comfortable discussing with others.
Other than employers, do your best to confide only in those who are supportive. Do not allow those who try to make you feel guilty or ashamed to be around you.
Seek professional counseling when you need someone to talk to other than family or friends. Pegasus caregivers come to your home when you need help with household chores. Our comprehensive services include dietitians who can help with implementing medically necessary diet changes.
When you’re ready, learn as much as you can about your condition. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of your healthcare provider. Ask to have explanations in terms you understand.
- What is the exact medical name of your condition
- What are treatment options
- What are the side effects of treatments
- What are the benefits of treatments
- What is your prognosis
You will have to make decisions about receiving treatment. Gather as much information you need to make the decision that’s best for you. That may be just the basics, or you may prefer knowing every single detail.
Bring someone with you to appointments and consultations. Having someone take notes frees you to focus on your questions and concerns. It also means that you will have an accurate record later of what was discussed.
You can also search the Internet for answers but do so with caution. There’s way too much misinformation out there. Look for studies and guidelines from reputable sources.
Find a support group. If there isn’t one locally or if you’re uncomfortable in a face-to-face group, you can join an online group. Look for one that shares personal experiences, and don’t rely on it for medical advice.
Ask for help when you need it. Family and friends who care about you are often willing to help but don’t know what you need. Give them specific suggestions.
Stay as socially active as you’re able. Find easy activities to do that give you pleasure. Spend quiet time with those who are special to you.
You can’t control the future, but you can manage your reactions. Make peace with your diagnosis. These suggestions may help:
- Connect with your spiritual beliefs
- Practice meditation
- Spend time in nature
- Learn something new that has nothing to do with your health
- Do breathing and relaxation exercises
- Focus on what is important
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising
- Keep a journal, write your memoir, or start a blog
You followed a routine or schedule before your diagnosis. Continuing to do so, to the extent that you’re able to after your diagnosis, creates a sense of control. Avoid overdoing it, but accomplishing even one “normal” activity a day reduces feelings of helplessness.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregivers in Shadow Hills and our other locations can assist you to cope with a serious diagnosis. We’re here to provide whatever level of care you and your loved ones need to live at home.