Believe me, I know that a medical diagnosis can feel like a punch in the gut, followed by the feeling that your life, as you have known it, has come to an end. Certainly your life will never be the same in many ways. Yes, you are living with a health condition, but that condition does not define your life.
The fear you may feel has a way of leading to unintended consequences. Yes, fear can be motivating. However, unless confronted, and placed in perspective, fear mobilizes us until we become exhausted by it. After all, human beings can only be terrified for so long. I have witnessed too many clients become so fearful that over time they just give in to being their diagnosis. They are good patients, compliant, but also defeated, expecting nothing more of themselves but to go through life as a medical label, with all of the expectations, or lack of expectations, that they associate with their diagnosis. They become helpless and hopeless. Some of them have become hyper-compliant to the point of becoming professional patients. Or they may simply say, “If I am nothing more than this condition, why try.” This can lead to a lack of compliance.
In a few words that might sound trite unless you are dealing with a diagnosis, here is what I tell them: You are not a diagnosis. Your diagnosis is only a part of who you are. Remind yourself every day that you are a fascinating, multi-dimensional creature with a past, a present, and a future that belongs to you and you alone. And remind all your friends and family members that you are more than a diagnosis and you all need to talk and keep talking about what is happening to all of you.
Look at your diagnosis in terms of the practical needs it has and then look beyond it. Embrace life and your potential to live your life, with all of its triumphs, set-backs, and surprises and detours.
Get prepared for the road ahead!
And here are some guidelines to help you answer these questions: