Adjusting To A Diagnosis Of A Chronic Illness: A Simple Guide
When it comes to the management of our health, most of us expect a pretty simple process. It goes something like this:
- We fall ill.
- We report to our doctor what has happened.
- Our doctor prescribes medication or recommends a particular therapy.
- The condition improves and, eventually, we go back to our normal health.
This is a process we’ve all been through numerous times in our life; we have a problem, and then that problem gets fixed. However, there may come a time in your life when that standard process is interrupted. The disruption arrives between points three and four; rather than the issue we’re experiencing being completely fixed, we’re told that we have a chronic condition.
By definition, a chronic condition is a condition that will last at least three months, and usually longer. There are thousands of different chronic conditions, ranging from mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety, to physical ailments such as fibromyalgia or Celiac Disease.
Being told that you have a chronic illness is an incredibly distressing time. The idea that modern medicine can’t just fix the issues you are experiencing is alarming, and can make you feel like your life has changed in an instant. In an effort to provide some clarity, let’s look through some of the basic steps you will need to take to cope with being told you have a condition that has no finite end point.
Be cautious when investigating online
When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, one of your first ports of call will usually be the internet. That’s entirely natural; you want to read more about the illness, and hopefully find stories from other sufferers so you have an idea of what your life might now be like.
However, there’s a huge amount of misinformation online, and some of it might be distressing to you. While it’s natural that you’ll want to find more information, you have to be incredibly careful not to take everything you read as if it is absolutely certain.
So be cautious, and be aware of the fact that people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones. If you find information that upsets you, step away— you’ve got enough to be dealing with, and the last thing you need is for the internet to upset you further.
Avoid the snake oil
Chronic conditions have always been popular with purveyors of snake oil. As there is no conventional “cure” for these conditions, untrustworthy salespeople are always willing to jump in and offer an amazing cure… for a price, of course.
Be extremely wary of these kinds of solutions. Detoxes, essential oils, cleanses—these “treatments” are not going to be able to rectify systemic conditions. If they did, the medical community would have embraced them and incorporated them into treatment plans. If the only way you can access an incredible “cure” for a chronic condition is to pay one company for a product or more information, then you have cause to be extremely skeptical.
If you find a potential treatment you’re curious about, then head to discussion forums and ask for real people’s opinions. This is usually safer than trusting the sales copy of a product, or relying on the (usually fake) reviews or testimonials on the seller’s site. Instead, forums like Reddit or Facebook support groups can provide genuine user feedback as to whether they had any success with a purported treatment or cure.
If the community gives the thumbs up, then take the final, crucial step of discussing the treatment with your doctor before trying it for yourself.
Deal with the bureaucracy
When you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, this — in medical insurance talk — becomes a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions can impact your ability to obtain health or life insurance coverage, so it’s important to investigate how these may change for you. It’s also important to do this as soon as possible after your diagnosis, otherwise you may find that your health and life insurance policies are no longer valid— even if you continue to pay the premiums.
As soon as you feel able to do so, contact your existing insurance providers to update them of your change in circumstances. If the price of your premium skyrockets, you may want to explore other coverage options.
You may be surprised to learn that you can still apply for other insurance policies with a pre-existing condition, but yes, this is more than feasible. If insurance companies refused to accept anyone with pre-existing conditions, they wouldn’t have many customers! So take the time to explore other insurance options, such as no medical exam life insurance or medical policies that will allow a higher co-pay in exchange for a lower monthly premium.
Of course, it’s vital that you disclose your diagnosis when looking for a new insurance policy. If you don’t, then any insurance you buy — be it medical, life, or anything else — will be invalid if you do come to claim. Not disclosing pre-existing conditions might lower your premiums, but it doesn’t actually provide you with reliable coverage, so it’s just not worth doing.
Speak to a therapist
If you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, then your life has changed. If your condition is relatively mild, you might feel that you don’t have the right to feel upset about what has happened to you, but this simply isn’t the case. No matter the severity of your condition, it’s entirely natural to be shocked and upset by being diagnosed with something that can’t actually be cured.
If you find yourself struggling to talk about this issue with friends and family, then seeing a therapist for talk therapy could be the best solution for you. This will give you the chance to vent your thoughts and frustrations in a safe, supportive space, which can make all the difference when it comes to adapting to your new normal .
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is never an easy process, but the tips above should provide you with a good foundation from which to build on in future.