You have just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At first, you are in denial and you are probably reeling. What does this mean? How will this impact me and my family? Am I going to die? What will I lose?
Most of the time you don’t hear anything after being told a diagnosis. Your brain is protecting you. At this moment, you cannot handle or process anything else. Shock, disbelief, and anger are usually what emotions you will deal with first.
The same thing happens when you or a loved one gets a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Cancer, or any other life-changing diagnosis. It sucks! Sometimes, you do feel relief because you at least have a diagnosis and now you know.
The Five Stages of Grief are not only for the death of a loved one. You will go through these stages with a loss of anything. No, they won’t be in order. No, you do not go through them once and then you are done with them. You will keep moving through them or back and forth until you get to acceptance. Even when you get to acceptance, you will go back and forth sometimes.
Grieve your loss. Explore what your new normal is. Learn how to manage your illness. Never, ever give up hope for feeling better and getting better. Accepting your diagnosis does not mean you give up.
Coping with a Chronic Illness
Coping with a chronic illness can be a challenging and emotional journey. You may experience a range of emotions, from denial and anger to depression and acceptance. It’s important to understand that these emotions are normal and part of the process of coming to terms with a chronic illness.
The first stage of accepting a chronic illness is denial. You may find it hard to believe that you have a chronic illness or may try to ignore the symptoms. This is a defense mechanism that helps you cope with the shock of the diagnosis. However, it’s important to acknowledge the reality of your situation and seek medical help.
Once you move past denial, you may experience feelings of anger and frustration. You may feel like you’ve been dealt an unfair hand or wonder why this is happening to you. These emotions are normal and can help you process your diagnosis. However, it’s important not to get stuck in this stage and to seek support to help you move forward.
When you first receive a diagnosis of a chronic illness, it is common to experience a sense of disbelief or denial. You may find yourself thinking, “This can’t be happening to me,” or “There must be some mistake.” This is a natural response to the shock of receiving unexpected news about your health.
During the denial stage, you may feel a sense of detachment from your diagnosis. You may avoid thinking about your illness or refuse to acknowledge that it is a part of your life. It is important to remember that denial is a normal part of the process of accepting a chronic illness. However, it is also important to move through this stage and begin to face the reality of your situation. You will deal with the many effects of a chronic illness. You will feel like you’re on a roller coaster.
One way to move through the denial stage is to seek out information about your illness. Learning more about your condition can help you to understand what is happening in your body and what you can do to manage your symptoms. It can also help you to feel more in control of your situation and to help you feel empowered.
Another way to move through the denial stage is to talk to others about your illness. Sharing your feelings with family, friends, or a support group can help you to process your emotions and come to terms with your diagnosis. It can also help you to feel less isolated and alone. I will caution you that it is easy to stay stuck in the complaining stage. You have to be aware of what you are focusing on. What is getting your energy? Are you focusing on actively managing your illness or just bitching about it?
When you receive a chronic illness diagnosis, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions, including anger. You may feel angry at yourself, the world, or even your loved ones. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge your anger, as it’s a natural part of the grieving process.
During this stage, you may feel frustrated, irritable, or resentful. You may even direct your anger toward your healthcare providers or the people around you. It’s important to remember that your anger is not wrong or bad, but it’s important to express it in a healthy way. Try your best to remember that you are angry at the situation and not those around you.
One way to manage your anger is to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation. You can also try a physical activity, such as exercise or yoga, to help release your anger in a healthy way. Additionally, talking to a therapist or joining a support group can provide a safe space to express your anger and work through your emotions. Talk therapy does help you work through these difficult emotions. Learn to manage stress.
During the bargaining stage, you may try to negotiate with yourself, God, or your higher power, or your healthcare provider to reverse or delay the diagnosis. You may say things like “If only I had done things differently,” or “If I make these changes, then maybe I can avoid this illness.”
It’s important to remember that bargaining is a normal part of the acceptance process. However, it’s also important to recognize that bargaining is often a futile exercise. Chronic illnesses are often not reversible, and delaying treatment can lead to further complications. Ask your doctor what are the next steps. Ask what this chronic illness affects.
Instead of bargaining, focus on finding ways to manage your illness and improve your quality of life. This may involve making lifestyle changes, seeking support from loved ones or support groups, or working with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan for you.
- Remember that it’s okay to feel angry, sad, or frustrated during this stage.
- Try to focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t.
- Be open to trying different coping strategies, such as meditation, therapy, or journaling.
Ultimately, the bargaining stage is about finding a sense of control and hope in a difficult situation. While it may be tempting to try to bargain your way out of your illness, accepting your diagnosis and focusing on managing your symptoms can help you live a fulfilling life. Learn to live your best life.
It is common to experience depression when dealing with a chronic illness. You may feel sad, hopeless, or helpless due to the changes in your life and the uncertainty of the future. Depression can make it difficult to complete daily tasks, and it can negatively impact your relationships and overall quality of life. This freaking diagnosis will not go away and can disrupt your daily routine.
It is important to recognize the symptoms of depression and seek treatment. Some symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Feeling irritable, easily frustrated, or restless
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”
- Withdrawing from friends or social activities
If you are experiencing depression, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can recommend treatment options such as therapy, medication, or a combination of both. It is also important to take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and staying active.
Remember that depression is a common and treatable condition. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and it can help you manage your chronic illness and improve your overall well-being. Regain a sense of control and improve your quality of life.
After experiencing the various stages of grief, you may eventually reach a stage of acceptance. Acceptance does not mean that you are okay with having a chronic illness, but rather that you have come to terms with the reality of your situation. Acceptance allows you to focus on moving forward and adapting to your new normal.
During the acceptance stage, it is important to acknowledge and express your feelings. It is okay to feel sad or angry about your situation, but it is also important to find ways to cope with these emotions. This may involve talking to a therapist, joining a support group, or practicing self-care activities such as meditation or exercise.
Another important aspect of acceptance is recognizing that your chronic illness does not define you. You are still the same person you were before your diagnosis, with unique skills, talents, and qualities. It may take time to adjust to your new limitations, but with patience and perseverance, you can still achieve your goals and pursue your passions.
It is also important to educate yourself about your illness and to communicate openly with your healthcare team. This can help you better understand your condition and make informed decisions about your treatment options. Additionally, staying proactive about your health can help you feel more in control and empowered. Design a treatment plan to meet your specific needs.
Ultimately, acceptance is a process that looks different for everyone. It may take time to reach this stage, and that’s okay. Remember to be patient with yourself and to seek support when needed. With time and effort, you can learn to live a fulfilling life despite your chronic illness.
Living with a chronic illness
Accepting a chronic illness is not easy, but it is a necessary step toward living a fulfilling life. It is important to understand that the process of acceptance is not linear and can vary from person to person. You may go through different stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
During the process of acceptance, it is important to seek support from loved ones, healthcare professionals, and support groups. You can also try different coping strategies, such as mindfulness, meditation, and journaling, to help you manage your emotions and improve your overall well-being. While you may feel a loss, remember your loved ones are feeling it too. It does become a family health and quality of life issue.
Remember that accepting your chronic illness does not mean giving up on your dreams or goals. You can still live a meaningful life by focusing on what you can do rather than what you cannot do. You may need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle, but with time and patience, you can find new ways to pursue your passions and interests.
It is important to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Living with a chronic illness can be challenging, and it is okay to have bad days. Remember that you are not alone, and there are many resources available to help you cope with your illness. By accepting your chronic illness, you can take control of your life and work towards your best quality of life.
Empowering Health Options can help you when you feel stuck and are ready to move forward.