When You’re First Diagnosed: What I Didn’t Know Then That Can Help You Now (Part 2)

diagnosisSo, you’ve been diagnosed.

In the blink of an eye, your world may seem upside down, unfamiliar and impossible to navigate. I’ve been there, dear one, and I know two things for sure:

A) It isn’t easy

B) You can do it. And not only do it, but do it well. You can (and will!) thrive again.

Last week, I shared a few simple tips for plotting your way through your new reality, steps I wish I had realized much earlier in my journey. Here are three more rules of thumb that have served me well since my own diagnosis, guidelines you can use right now as you move forward on your own healing path. (Looking for the first three shiny nuggets on this list? Take a look at last week’s post here.)

4. Attitudes can be more dangerous than illness. 

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You know what really got to me when I was first diagnosed? More than the pain, more than how my life had changed forever, even more than the medical maelstrom sweeping me away from my life and myself?

Other people’s attitudes. (I even wrote a guide on how to deal with this here). The strangers who gazed upon me with pity. Those who passed along their sympathies to my family on hearing of my illness and treated me like I was on Death’s door. And those who took the most appalling attitude of all, and blamed me for becoming ill.

Being flooded with biased –and blatantly false – opinions while I was so vulnerable was damaging to my psyche, which directly impacted my ability to heal.

Unqualified people told me I’d never get well and how sad it was that I had no real life now. I even found that some “support groups” venerated the seriously ill.

However unintentionally, this environment encouraged focus on symptoms; indeed, in one fascinating study, “79% of medical students report[ed] developing symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they [were] studying…because they [became] paranoid [about becoming ill, and in turn], their bodies compl[ied] by getting sick.” [1] (This is why I don’t support awareness raising as a public service method.)

You can’t control what others say and how they react to your situation, but recognizing the enormous emotional and physical toll their presence can have is integral to capping just how influential their negative attitudes can be on your health.

You needn’t absorb what the naysayers, pessimists and perpetual-pity-party-throwers are saying!

If you can’t physically distance yourself from them, make a conscious effort to do so mentally. Similarly, surrounding yourself with the right, positive, supportive people can provide just as profound a boost to your health.

Choose your company wisely. Your body – and spirit! – will thank you.

5. It won’t always be like this.

In one of my darkest moments a card was handed to me. It said, quite simply, “It won’t always be like this”.

It wasn’t fancy – just smudged, black biro on a small white card, written by a stranger, but it was created just for me. And it had been carried across oceans before it came to rest in my grateful hands.

The story behind this magnificent gift is too lengthy to recount here, but the essence of that message is so very powerful! I still don’t know who wrote it, but that card saved my life.

Some of those early days were black; I felt like I would never heal and that hope was impossibly far. On those days, I held that card close, in my pocket. I pinned it to my mirror. I wrote the words on my hands. I repeated them with each breath, as I prayed for the pain killers to kick in.

Those words, from a stranger, meant the world to me. And now, I’m passing them on to you: it won’t always be like this. I know it may be hard to believe it, but hold on. On the days when you can’t, I will believe it for you, all the while promising, things will change. For the better. Believe.

6. Holding out for a cure isn’t your only option.

When it’s 3am and your eyes are gritty from pouring over the hundreds of pages Google’s spit out on your condition, it may be time to take a break. Might the next website hold the secret cure or magic pill? Might the latest research give you the elusive answers you seek? Might that next holistic breakthrough or clinical trial be the elixir to take your illness clean away?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

I’m a hopeful, wildly optimistic girl. I’ve enthusiastically dived into all of the above. I’ve done the reading, the tests and donated to research. And, I’ve heard the old staple, “All we can do is hope they find a cure”.

Stop. Rewind. That is most certainly not all we can do.

Holding out for a cure while life passes you by is not your only option. And by doing so, you are grossly shortchanging yourself of the full spectrum of ways you can find to live and feel well now. I am living, breathing, trail blazing proof that living, joyfully and fully, regardless of your physical limitations is possible.

If you could find a way to do the same, today – everyday – would you grab hold of that opportunity? Of course! And you can. There are many ways to live in the day, and not in wait for something that may never come to pass. Check out the posts herehere and here for some great ideas to get started. Or sign up to receive my free mini course, How to Turn Trail Blazer for some awesome tools and suggestions you can use right now.

Did any of these tips resonate with you? What advice do you give that’s helped you adapt to a new challenge or way of life? Click here to share your gems with your fellow Trail Blazers in our Facebook Café or on our Facebook fan page.

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[1] Scientific Proof That Negative Beliefs Harm Your Health