Newly Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness
When it all started, I was healthy. “Healthy” is a positive term, right? Who knew being an “otherwise healthy female in my early twenties” would put me at risk of something that would forever change my life.
After a drastic change in eyesight, decreased function of my legs, and 6 months of endless testing…I got the call. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
What do I do now? Is my life over? How do I process this?
I may not be an expert, but the following were most helpful to me.
Lean on your support system
Your support system is essential during this time. They may not understand, and they may say the wrong thing, but they are there. They care for you, love you, and want the best for you. Find ways to meet others that are experiencing similar issues like attending a local support group or finding a Facebook group that offers online support for your illness.
The first time I attended a support group, I almost did not walk into the building. But as soon as I did, I was surrounded by others who understood and sat in the hurt with me. They offered me advice and encouragement that I did not know I needed. They reminded me that I am not alone.
With chronic illnesses, you may have to change daily habits. These changes should be discussed between you and your doctor. Disease modifying treatments (DMT) may be introduced to delay progression or alleviate symptoms of the illness.
Some changes I’ve made include using elevators vs. stairs, intentional low-impact exercises, using ice packs in the summer and wearing extra layers in the winter, and finding self-care techniques to help reduce stress.
Going to counseling may be a scary but brave decision for yourself. Counselors are there to help you identify goals and solutions to problems that arise in your life.
Some chronic illnesses come with other symptoms, like depression or anxiety. This can be difficult to manage on top of everything else you have gone through.
Counseling was a way to safely expose all of my fears, to work through those fears, and to come out on the other side.
You are not alone
Living well with your chronic illness is possible. You are not alone. Support is waiting for you. You may just need help finding where to look…
If you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, book a free 15-minute consultation today to see if counseling with Rebecca at Grow Psychological is the right fit for you!
From a young age, I have known that I wanted to help others find peace through healing. As an intern at Grow Psychological, I am putting the skills and knowledge I have built over the past few years into practice. I am fluent in American Sign Language, so my services are offered in English and ASL. I have personal experience with chronic illnesses, disabilities, children, and adults.