How to Cope After Receiving a Life-altering Diagnosis

anonymous female therapist-and-client-sitting-in-armchairs-during session in modern office

No one is ever truly ready for a life-altering diagnosis. When you receive news from your doctor of a life-threatening disease or chronic illness, your identity and self-perception may shatter. 

This is one of the hardest things you’ve ever experienced.

I want to let you know that you are not alone. Many of my clients come to me to talk about this major life shift. I help them navigate through the various emotions and next steps.

Let’s discuss what you can do to help yourself after receiving a life-changing diagnosis.

Receiving a Life-Altering Diagnosis

When you first receive your diagnosis, it feels like your life has come to a screeching halt, and you have to re-evaluate everything, resulting in frightening uncertainty surrounding the future. 

You may be forced to make changes that will forever alter your life, affecting those you love. 

Acknowledging what you’re feeling after receiving this diagnosis is important. Emotions can include denial, fear, anxiety, sadness, grief, or anger. Some people report feeling numb.  

Opening up to someone you trust can help you move through this, one day at a time. If you feel that the people in your life do not understand what you’re going through, support groups help people in similar situations work through their thoughts and emotions, as do coaches.

If you prefer to be alone, consider journaling your thoughts. It will help as you work through and process your emotions and thoughts.

Coping With What Comes Next

Dealing with the future, whether tomorrow, a week from now, or five years from now, can feel overwhelming. You will benefit by processing your emotions.

Five stages of grief commonly occur after receiving a life-changing diagnosis. You can move through these stages in random order. They are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Some people feel optimistic and determined after a diagnosis, only to be hit by a crippling depression days later as the reality of the situation becomes sharp. Others may be in denial.

Understand that whatever you are going through right now is your individual reaction.

There are tools to help you process your emotions during this unimaginably difficult time:

–      Coping With a Life-Threatening Illness

–      Chronic Pain and Mental Health

–      8 Tips for Coping With a Serious Diagnosis

Additional ways to cope with a life-altering diagnosis include joining a support group and seeing a coach or a therapist. 

Maintaining Normalcy

It is normal to grieve the life you had, but it is important to think about the life you still have. Life does not end after a life-altering diagnosis. It will be different from before, but still worth living to the fullest. 

Your reset will develop over time, faster if you take steps that empower you, such as educating yourself about your condition and finding support groups or a coach.

Speaking with others and understanding how they’ve resumed their daily lives and reached as much normalcy as possible can help you make positive changes.

The Impact on Mental Health

This process may affect your mental health. Situations like this are traumatic and may result in lingering trauma symptoms such as PTSD, health anxiety, and depression. So, it’s important to remember that caring for your psychological well-being is just as important as your physical care.

It is okay to struggle, but you do not have to do it alone. Coaching and therapy are valuable tools that can help you. 

While you mourn the loss of your old life, start thinking positively about your new one.

Asking for Help

Asking for help is a sign of strength. If you would like to set up a complimentary conversation with me about what you’re going through, I am always here to listen to you, guide you, and provide additional resources to help you navigate this challenging time.

Please get in touch with me today for your complimentary dealing with difficult diagnosis conversation about how I may be able to help you adapt to life after your diagnosis – regardless of how long it has been since you first received the news. Perhaps you are the family caregiver and want to set up a best caregiving ideas conversation.