How to Cope With an Incurable Illness

Today’s post is a guest post from April Meyers.

Receiving a diagnosis for an incurable disease can understandably be difficult to cope with. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to deal with such a diagnosis. You may feel overwhelmed and choose to ignore its existence or feel intense grief, sadness, and fear regarding your future or even jump into action and start working towards possible treatment options. Regardless of your approach, the key is to understand that you are not powerless and with the help of your doctors and certain lifestyle changes you can make a significant positive impact on your health.

Coping With the Diagnosis

The days and weeks following your diagnosis will prove to be a difficult period with you experiencing a wide range of emotions such as grief, anger, uncertainty, remorse, etc. Though difficult, it is important to face these emotions, as in time they will pass, helping you gain clarity and acceptance towards your situation.

Additionally, seek the support of those you trust to help you cope. Trying to deal with your diagnosis alone can be difficult as you will lack the clarity of thought and objectivity needed to overcome negative emotions. Seeking support allows you to express emotions freely, helping to reduce stress and aid in recovery.

When choosing individuals to confide in, look for those who are good listeners, pay attention to what you say without judging or telling you how to feel or think. Socializing with others helps you break the cycle of negative thoughts, motivates you to partake in activities such as going for a walk, watching a movie, or having a conversation about something else than your health, which can significantly help reduce stress.

Make Lifestyle Changes

Post diagnosis, you will be asked to undergo multiple supplementary tests and consultations by doctors to create a treatment plan, which can take some time to finalize. In many cases, it may be worth moving closer to treatment locations to ease the burden of long commutes and the expense of frequent trips. Brush up on the process of buying a home to determine if this is a feasible option for you.

During this period, it’s easy to feel high levels of anxiety due to the uncertainty regarding your health. To overcome these feelings, it’s advisable to make the following lifestyle changes:

Practice Relaxation

Prominent techniques you can try include:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: This helps to cope with muscle pain and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: This technique focuses on reducing negativity, gaining control over racing thoughts, and reducing stress.
  • Guided Meditation: Involves visualizing yourself in a positive setting like a beach or mountains, helping to overcome negativity, and gain clarity of thought. As a tip, get yourself a good pair of headphones or earphones to drown out the noise around you so you can ease into your mindfulness practice without distractions.

Pursue a Hobby

Whether it is playing an instrument, writing, exercising, singing, or dancing, invest time towards activities that give your life meaning, provide you joy and a sense of fulfilment. If your condition prevents you from participating in an activity you prefer, find an alternative that provides you gratification.

Sleep Well

According to the ASA, having a good sleep schedule can reduce stress and improve immune response, two important things you need to cope with your illness. The best way to create a good sleep schedule is to wake and sleep at the same time each day.

While these steps can help towards improving your quality of life, to gain greater control over your health and increase treatment options you can choose to join a clinical trial. Additionally, by participating in trials you provide a valuable contribution towards finding a breakthrough not only for yourself but for others who share your predicament.

One of the prominent diseases for which clinical trials are ongoing is Huntington’s disease. The disease progressively destroys neurons in the brain responsible for movement, emotions, thinking and even involuntary actions without remission and currently has no drug or treatment to prevent or slow its spread. Other conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, AIDS, etc also have active ongoing clinical trials.

When it comes to coping with an incurable disease, it’s important to surround yourself with supportive individuals who can help you deal with stress and motivate you to make positive lifestyle changes.

You can find out more about April on her website.

Image source: Pexels

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