To those who are newly diagnosed.....
An open letter on the realities of a chronic illness and how to overcome them.
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is not an easy pill to swallow. This diagnosis means that there is no cure, no easy fix to make everything better and go back to normal. Before the diagnosis you probably struggled for a long time, trying to get answers, trying to understand what changed.
There is no part of having a chronic illness that is easy.
Finding a doctor that will listen and try to help you is a feat of its own. Going through all the tests and possibilities makes it even more difficult. Finally getting the diagnosis, but then going through the process of struggling to accept it. Going through different treatment plans desperately trying to find the one that works. Dealing with the frustration of going through all of this trial and error just to try to have some semblance of normalcy. It is a constant battle that takes a lot of inner strength and resilience. Managing your symptoms and quality of life is a very delicate balance. It can feel like your life has become a house of cards and one small gust of wind can send everything crashing down.
Mindset can be very beneficial in managing and accepting your chronic illness. It's not easy to fully accept a diagnosis and the lasting impact it will have on your life. It can be easier to convince yourself that if you can just find the right doctor or treatment things will get better, but you can't live in denial. Until you fully accept your diagnosis and let go of your old life you will be stuck on autopilot in a way, just getting by and going through the motions. A chronic illness diagnosis can be the end of the world or you can change your perspective and see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow as a person and work on yourself. To create a new life for yourself that you otherwise probably wouldn't have had without your diagnosis. It definitely stings to give up on the life you had been living and the plans that you had for yourself, but reinventing yourself and learning who you are as a chronic illness warrior is necessary to having and maintaining a better quality of life.
Focusing on the positives and appreciating the small things is crucial to having a positive perspective and not losing hope. The negatives that come with chronic illness can easily overwhelm you if you let them. Especially when it feels like you are constantly on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Having high moments feels good, especially when you haven't had one in a while. However the low moments are what's difficult because it can feel like all the progress you have made has been reset. It is easy to have the perspective of "why does it even matter" when you're going through a low point especially after having a high moment. You just need to remind yourself how much you have already overcome and think of all the good moments you have had. Your high moments can motivate you and help you see that it is worth it to keep fighting. Eventually your highs and lows won't be as extreme and you will be able to manage them better.
Chronic illness is not something that is easy to go through and live with by yourself. A support system is very important to have when going through your diagnosis and learning how to manage everyday life again. A support system is able to fight with you and for you when you can't do it yourself. Surround yourself with people who care about you and are willing to listen and try to understand what you are going through. You might lose friends because they don't understand what you are going through and are not willing to try to understand what you are going through. However, it is better to cut those people loose anyway and focus on the friends and family members that want what is best for you.
There is no guide to tell you how to deal with the diagnosis of a chronic illness, but hopefully some of these tips will help!