Despite wanting the news not to be true, and wishing/praying the illness would go away, sometimes in life we just have to face the fact that, yes, we’ve got this– whatever “this” is. It’s here. It’s happening. It’s most likely not going away. So now what?
What are some ways to cope after finding out you have a chronic illness?
Consider that there are going to be several bad things that accompany the news– you may feel stress, grief, rage, fear, anxiety and depression. All of those things make life difficult. Your job is to combat those “bad” things with “good” things in order to cope.
First up, consider becoming very particular with what you eat and drink, such that you help manage the illness by becoming healthier than before. This might require taking some cooking lessons and then putting the lessons to good use. A great way of coping with your illness is to put time and effort into becoming the best healthy-cooking, healthy-living chef you can be. Life can be more interesting when there are new recipes to try, and you might even get to the point where you’re enjoying preparing a dish so much that you forget about your illness for a bit. Now THAT is a good way to cope. Also, invite others to enjoy meals with you– camaraderie (aka “fellowship”) is good for the soul.
Besides cooking, there’s exercising. Even if you don’t feel like exercising, you should force yourself to do so, because exercise releases “feel good” endorphins. You’re going to feel better after you’ve run on the treadmill, swam or lifted weights. That’s a major benefit of exercise– feeling good. Challenge yourself to exercise at least a few days a week, even if it’s just a nice walk. Why not come up with fitness goals and try to achieve them? These goals can help you take your mind off your illness.
For those of you who aren’t into cooking or exercising, consider the more contemplative ways to cope with finding out you have a chronic illness. You can write your thoughts in a journal on a daily basis. You can listen to relaxing music that may calm and encourage you. How about trying the art of deep breathing and stretching? Or get lost in good books that transport your mind to other times and places.
In addition, you may consider talking with a professional who can guide you through the difficult ordeal, or you may want to join a support group with other people who are dealing with the same or similar issues you are.
Finally, do what you can to spend quality time with family and friends. Their support and love can really help turn a bad day into a decent or great one!