Okay, so you received your diagnosis. Now what?
You may be feeling a sense of urgency. Let’s get moving on doing something. And you may be surrounded by people – friends, family and health professionals – who are also telling you to get moving.
Urgency goes hand in hand with impatience. Somewhere along the way toward getting your self-care and treatment plan in place, you may find yourself feeling impatient.
Let’s start with how you can become impatient with yourself during the first year of a diagnosis. If your diagnosis includes making lifestyle changes, such as adopting a different diet, then you may find yourself getting impatient with yourself when you can’t quite stay on track. Or when you’ve been told your medications should be working in a certain way and how you should be feeling, but you’re not feeling that way at all. Or how about when you know you should be asking your doctor questions but either you’re not sure what to ask or you keep forgetting?
You may also find yourself being a little more impatient with others during your first year. Family members who keep asking how you’re feeling, or nagging at you to take better care of yourself, or telling you what to do. You might find yourself becoming impatient with your doctor, if you don’t feel he/she is making you feeling better fast enough or not as responsive as you expected.
What about other people? They might be showing some impatience as well. Like those nagging family members. Or your doctor when he/she scolds you for slipping up on your self-care or compliance.
Patience is a Virtue. But What If It’s Not One of Mine?
Patience! Sounds like a great goal. But then, real life keeps getting in the way. After all, you’re still human. And you’re surrounded by humans.
The problem with impatience is that it leads to stress which, in turn, can have a negative impact on physical and emotional wellness. It places a wedge between you and the people who are trying to help you. And it gets in the way of your ability to make thoughtful decisions.
Who needs that, right?
Here are some ideas or bringing more patience into your life during the first year of your diagnosis:
Accept your own humanity. Yes, you’re human. And humans aren’t hardwired to adapt to change all that quickly, especially change they didn’t ask for. You certainly didn’t ask to be diagnosed with a chronic condition. Adjusting to your diagnosis is going to be a process, and it won’t always be easy. Letting yourself be human will help you to be more patient with yourself. And, by the way, that’s where patience begins.
And accept that everybody else is human. The people around you are also human. Your family is most likely not equipped to understand what you’re dealing with. It’s going to take them time to learn, just as it is you. And your healthcare providers are most likely dealing with their own challenges, including balancing lots of demands. They’re on their own learning curve where you’re concerned, as they learn the best way to help you manage your condition. In other words, everybody’s doing all that’s “humanly” possible, even if they don’t seem to be at times.
Set small, realistic goals. Based on priorities. Step back and consider what you most need to be doing to help you to manage your chronic condition: treatment regimen, diet, activity, psychotherapy, or whatever else you and your doctor consider the basic elements of taking good care of yourself. Work toward doing what you need to do maintain this focus. Don’t overwhelm yourself – and trying your patience – by pushing yourself to do more than you can.
Keep up the information-gathering. As you learn more about your condition and how to manage it, you’ll also be able to do a better job. Knowledge is power!
Get support. Identify the people in your life who can listen without judging you or trying to tell you what to do. Keep them in your corner. Also, stay connected with others who are also living with your diagnosis. There’s nothing quite like being in touch with people who are traveling the road along beside you. Support is power!
And get on your own side. Recognize those internal voices of criticism and doubt. Thank them for their opinion and then tell them to be quiet. Don’t fight with yourself. Instead, work with yourself. Give yourself words of encouragement: This isn’t easy but I’m doing the best I can. I’m learning more every day what I need to do. And I’m not alone.
Remember: Managing your chronic condition is a process, undertaken one step at a time. Nurture patience along the way, toward yourself and toward others. Patience is power!