So you’ve gotten a health diagnosis, and it’s not the news you wanted to hear. Regardless of the emotional blow you may be feeling, know that you are not alone. It’s also important to remember that your disease does not define you.
Your health news does not have to ruin your life. Modern medicine is on your side as is an increasingly transparent and accepting culture. You can find meaningful ways to manage your disease as you pursue everything wonderful that life has to offer. Consider how you can adjust your lifestyle, habits, and behaviors to account for your diagnosis. These five tips may help you live your fullest and best life, even while living with a disease.
1. Cultivate a Support System
When you’re managing a disease, it can be easy to feel alone. That’s why it’s incredibly important to cultivate a support system. Call on trusted family members and friends to support you as you navigate your disease.
Depending on your diagnosis, you may be more comfortable sharing more or less with others. Use your best judgment and engage the people you feel will be best suited to share this journey with you. You are under no obligation to tell anyone and everyone about your personal situation.
Once you identify the people you wish to share details with, help them learn how best to support you. If your disease requires you to monitor eating and activity habits, share those details with your support system. Likewise, if it’s possible that you could have an unexpected episode, prepare your friends and family. Share the action steps they would need to take to help you get care. When you have a group of people who are engaged, you can feel less alone in managing your disease.
2. Get Treatment That Suits Your Preferences
Your diagnosis may have come as a shock or you may have had a suspicion that all was not well. No matter what, treatment options have expanded in recent years. With the advent of virtual doctor’s visits and online providers, you can get care when and where you prefer.
For example, if you’re looking for genital herpes treatment, you can get care and medication online through qualified medical professionals. Similarly, treatment for Lyme disease is available online. Today’s digital treatment options can help reduce the stress that sometimes comes with going to a physician’s office. Do a simple Google search to see if your condition can be treated online. You may also feel more comfortable sharing struggles and concerns from behind a screen instead of in person.
3. Take Care of Your Body and Mind
A long-term disease diagnosis can be mentally and physically draining. Typically, a diagnosis gives a quick blow to one’s mental state. The outlook of long-term management and lifestyle changes can be enough to overwhelm anyone. Soon, you’ll learn more about your disease and what it will take to manage it effectively. Be sure to care for a mental and physical state as you implement these changes.
Make regular movement and exercise part of your daily routine. Adopt relaxing practices like yoga, meditation, or baths to relax and recharge. Consider adding a therapist to your care team as you pursue both mental and physical health. Even if you feel your mental state is solid today, remember that everyone can benefit from therapy.
Pay attention to how you feel. Do your best to reach out to others when you feel like you need additional support. Your care team and your supportive friends and family want to see you thrive even in the face of disease.
- Advocate for Your Needs
No one knows your body like you do. Even if your disease diagnosis is not new, chances are its impact on your life may shift over time. Work to be in tune with your body and mind. Notice if there are any changes or if you think your current treatment plan isn’t effective. Speak up and engage your medical team.
Sometimes bodies don’t respond the same to long-term medication. It may be appropriate to adjust concentration or dosage levels as your needs change. Reach out to your medical provider and schedule a virtual appointment to check in. If your needs aren’t medical and more emotional, make that request too. Have an honest conversation about what adjustments would be beneficial for your long-term health. Speak up and advocate for yourself as you manage your disease.
- Continue to Pursue Your Dreams
It may feel as if a weight is on your shoulders as you build your life with disease in the picture. But a disease is not a death sentence for your dreams. Many people continue to live full lives as they manage both visible and invisible diseases. Consider some of the most prolific people of our times. Stephen Hawking managed ALS for decades, exceeding expectations and making groundbreaking findings in science. Some of the most famous actors, musicians, and artists that you know and love today have diseases.
Actress, singer, and beauty entrepreneur Selena Gomez has been open about her lupus diagnosis. She’s been transparent about her journey in managing the disease, including sharing details about her kidney transplant. Today, she lives a full life and continues to share her story.
While the celebrity experience is not always relatable to everyone, it has an impact. Public perceptions are often debunked when those in the limelight share their experience with disease. Continue to pursue your dreams and endeavors even while managing your health. Staying engaged in your profession, hobbies, and friendships may result in better outcomes.
A Diagnosis Doesn’t Define You
You are a human who exists before adding any variables to your existence, even if it’s a chronic disease. It’s important to take care of yourself even in the face of a long-term diagnosis.
Prioritize your life as a whole person, of which your disease is just a part. With time and effort, you can balance it as you manage your health and continue to live a full life.