According to a survey, around 6 in 10 Americans suffer from a chronic illness. Moreover, 53% of veterans receive a serious diagnosis within the first year after leaving the service. This can be due to numerous things veterans are exposed to during service, like chemicals, environmental hazards, and more.
Receiving a serious health diagnosis can be incredibly overwhelming. You may feel stressed and start imagining worst-case scenarios immediately. Such a diagnosis can change every aspect of your life, and it is normal to feel scared or anxious. However, it is important to remember that receiving such a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the world. A positive outlook and the motivation to do better can have a major impact on your treatment and recovery.
Tips for Coping with a Serious Health Diagnosis
Here are some tips to help you cope with a serious diagnosis.
- Learn More About Your Illness
While stressful, a diagnosis can be somewhat empowering as well. Knowing what you’re dealing with enables you to manage your circumstances better and may help you feel more in control. So, after receiving a diagnosis, it is important to discuss everything with your doctor in detail. It is necessary to learn as much as possible about your illness, treatment, and so on.
Moreover, there are special resources created especially for veterans dealing with a difficult diagnosis. For instance, mesothelioma is common among veterans. A mesothelioma diagnosis is often life-threatening and incredibly stressful. However, you can refer to resources such as www.mesotheliomaveterans.org, where you can learn more about VA benefits, treatments, prognosis, etc. Moreover, you can also learn how to apply for financial compensation as a veteran suffering from mesothelioma.
- Don’t Bottle It Up
Many emotions come along with a diagnosis. You might feel angry, scared, or anxious. However, this is completely normal. It is necessary to express your feelings and avoid putting on a brave face for your loved ones. You can talk to your friends or family, try journaling, or even seek professional help. Expressing your feelings can help you process everything better and faster and may help create a positive attitude.
- Rely On Your Support Network
Having a strong support system can work wonders for you. So, it is important to establish a support network, including your friends, family, or coworkers, and not be afraid to ask for help. Your loved ones will probably be more than happy to help out in little ways, like preparing meals or completing minor household chores. Accepting help allows your loved ones to feel included and useful during a difficult time. It can also help take some load off your caregivers and yourself as well.
You can also create a support network specifically for your health condition as well. This support system can include people who have a similar diagnosis. You can search for support groups or related associations and attend meetings. Connecting with people going through something similar can help you feel less alone. Moreover, you can get to know more about treatment options and how they work for each individual and learn coping strategies as well.
- Maintain Healthy Habits
A healthy lifestyle can help boost energy levels and make you strong enough to deal with treatments. So, it is important to maintain a healthy diet, including protein, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables. It is necessary to avoid processed meat and refined grains. It is also important to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated.
Additionally, you should try to stay active if possible. You can consult your doctor to learn about which exercises might be suitable for you. Regular exercise can be a great way to increase energy, reduce stress, and improve your overall mood.
- Prioritize Your Happiness
Sometimes, a serious diagnosis helps people realize what truly gives their life meaning and purpose. So, it is necessary to take time out for people or activities that feel rewarding or bring you joy. You can stay connected or reconnect with friends and family, especially ones that can help bring a positive outlook on life. Similarly, you can also engage in old hobbies that you didn’t have time for previously, try new ones, or do anything else that makes you happy.
- Employ Healthy Coping Strategies
A serious health diagnosis can take a toll on your mental health, and it is often common to fall into bad habits as a way to cope with stress. However, such coping mechanisms are harmful to you and only provide temporary relief. Unhealthy coping mechanisms include drinking, smoking, isolation, avoidance, etc.
So, it is necessary to try to stay positive and use healthy coping strategies to help you get through this tough time. You can talk to a friend or try relaxation techniques.
- Set Realistic Goals
Setting small goals and expectations that are realistic and achievable can help you avoid disappointment and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. You can set small goals by prioritizing your commitments and doctor’s appointments and avoiding anything you don’t have the energy for. You can also create goals related to diet and exercise, which can help improve your health and keep your mind off of stressful things.
- Set Healthy Boundaries
Once others learn about your diagnosis, they will tell you stories about their or other people’s experiences who battled with something similar. While they mean well most of the time, it can still be quite draining for you.
So, it is necessary to set healthy boundaries and avoid anything or anyone that may stress you out. You can politely ask others to avoid talking about your illness if it makes you uncomfortable. Moreover, it is also important to avoid saying yes to plans or activities that you don’t have the time or energy for just for the sake of being nice. Always prioritize your mental and physical health over anything else.
Learning about a serious medical diagnosis can be life-changing. It is normal to feel a range of emotions, such as anger, denial, or anxiety. All this can take a toll on your mental health, which can make it harder for you to cope with your illness and the course of treatment. So, it is necessary to take steps that allow you to deal with your diagnosis in a better and more positive way. Keep your mental health in check throughout the journey, maintain healthy habits, and don’t forget to prioritize your happiness and comfort.