It’s a nightmare situation. The doctor tells you that you or a loved one has a life-altering condition — something that is going to call on your deepest resources of strength to handle. A bad diagnosis can land like a bomb, frightening and disorienting you in a way that little else can.
Even though a scary diagnosis can turn your world upside down, there are practical strategies you can use to take the best next steps and bring balance back to your life. Here are a few:
Know your feelings will improve. In the immediate aftermath of a diagnosis, the anxiety and fear can feel destabilizing and permanent. But those emotions are important reminders that your body and mind are mobilizing to protect you. Their intensity will subside over the coming days. You will still have plenty of challenges, but the intensity of the confusion and fear will lessen naturally.
Slow down. Fight the urge to make major decisions right away, taking a few days or a week to do some research and get a second opinion can make all the difference in finding the best doctors and treatment for yourself.
Seek comforts, new and old. Making healthy lifestyle changes and exploring new modes of self-care can provide crucial comfort and support. But don’t abandon all your old routines either. If nature walks have always buoyed your spirits, walk. If you like to get lost in a book, read. If praying helps, pray.
Choose whom to tell. Support from friends is absolutely essential, You get to decide with whom to share your news. A family member or friend who is going to cry every time he or she talks to you is not going to be helpful.
Use the Web wisely. It’s important to remember how wildly inaccurate online information can be and to be conservative in your searches, especially at the beginning, as indiscriminate web surfing can increase fears more than help you. Talking with trusted health professionals and friends may be more helpful.
Write things down. If you are worried write down your thoughts. Journaling can be therapeutic as you process the news. People think of many things when they get bad news. Writing things down as they come into your mind, helps you gain some control.
Don’t feel guilty about calling your boss or manager to share what is going on. You might want to take a few days off and give yourself time to process the information.
Getting bad news is difficult. It is hard for the person who receives the news as well as family members. Keep in mind that each person deals with bad news in their own way. It is my hope that these strategies will help you and your family cope if you are given bad news one day.
I wrote a post in Nurse Advocate; titled; Life Changes on a Dime after I received the news that I had a Central Nervous Brain Tumor. If you missed the original post, take a minute to read it here.
If you have strategies that have helped you cope, please feel free to share.
Thank you for reading Nurse Advocate!