When someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness, s/he usually goes through an adjustment period.
During that time, there may be many different emotions as the person with the illness, and the family, adapt to the new reality.
People often go through stages similar to the grieving process. The initial stage of shock and denial can take longer for some to resolve than others.
Family members also go through these stages, but may not adapt as quickly. This may show up as thinking the person with the illness is faking or exaggerating symptoms.
The stages of adaptation are:
- Denial – shock, numbness, unreality of the situation
- Anger – angry at God, the doctors, insurance companies, the system
- Bargaining – seeking second opinions, miracle cures, mistaken diagnosis
- Depression – mourning for the person you once were or hoped to be
- Acceptance – learning to live with the new normal
Invite family members to talk with your doctor or accompany you to an appointment; this may help them to accept the reality of the illness.
(Also, you can grab my free tips sheet on how to discuss your illness with family and friends.)
Many organizations and medical practices offer literature and programs for people who are newly diagnosed and their families. Take advantage of these programs and related support groups.
There may be stressful and cumbersome paperwork to complete for insurance and other purposes. Ask your medical provider for assistance with this or request a referral to someone in the community who can assist you, ie. care managers.
Care managers are often available through national or local associations or service organizations, ie. National MS Society or American Cancer Society. National organizations usually have state or regional chapters/offices that serve a specific area.
These organizations also offer educational opportunities, information and referral, programs and services for the person with the illness, family members and caregivers.
Don’t forget to grab the two free PDF downloads above and also join the private Chronic Beauty Life Facebook support group. We are not medical professionals, but we are a group of chronically ill people who understand!
P.S. If you are really struggling to come to terms with your illness, please discuss your feeling with your doctor and/or talk with a therapist.