Patients: How are you feeling?

If you have recently been diagnosed with a medical condition, you have probably been asked this question over and over: How are you feeling? It may seem like everybody around you — friends, family, healthcare professionals, and your insurance company — wants to conduct a moment-by-moment assessment of your symptoms. (And if someone you care about just got diagnosed, you most likely have found yourself repeating this question, at times to the annoyance of your loved one.) When I ask clients who just got diagnosed about how they are feeling, I want to know what kinds of emotions they are experiencing: Fear? Anger? Disappointment? Or if they are still in a state of shock. Acknowledging your emotions is a critical element in coping with your diagnosis. Receiving a medical diagnosis can be traumatic, especially if, like many diagnoses, it seems to come out of nowhere. And like any traumatic event, you may want to run in the other direction, to go on with your life and ignore it, or you may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do next. The people around you are having their own reactions, which may include some of the same emotions that you are experiencing. And if they aren’t comfortable with their feelings, they most likely don’t have any idea how to talk to you about yours. After all, just as you were probably unprepared to be told that you have a medical condition, the people in your world were equally unprepared. Your healthcare providers may not have the time or the training to help their patients cope with their emotions. I created to help you to recognize, and cope with, the emotions that may have arisen as a result of your diagnosis, and to help you to maintain a self-image that is more than a medical label. Why do I think this is important? Because making medical decisions and coping with the lifestyle changes that result from a diagnosis requires being in touch with all of our resources — our minds, our emotions, and our spirit.