Our mindset influences how we feel, emotionally and physically. Let us see how we can create a mindset that will help us feel better as we cope with illness.
When we are first diagnosed with any major illness we may respond with denial; “It can’t be happening to me”. This kind of thought distances the illness from us. For a short period, denial may help give us time to grasp what is happening to us. But a long period of denial can sabotage our search for solutions and make us surrender without a fight.
So, what to do?
During testing and before meeting the doctor to hear the test results:
- Write down your strengths and keep adding to the list as you think of more. Ask your family and friends to also add to this list based on their perception of your strengths.
- Write down what you are grateful for in life.
- Write down possible sources of support: childcare, housework, shopping, transportation, finances, etc.
- Write down what gives you pleasure in life.
- Try to involve your loved ones in all activities and ventures you undertake to strengthen yourself. They can be of major support.
The day you receive your test results:
- If they are positive, allow yourself to cry, to be angry, and to curse if you want to. Do not hold back your emotions. Ask your doctor any questions that come to mind, no matter how silly you think they are, and no matter how busy and dismissive the doctor is (bearing in mind that there are hundreds of doctors in any particular field in the country).
- When you get home, take a few minutes to yourself. If there is no place for privacy, go to the bathroom. Write down all the negative and dark thoughts and fears that you are experiencing.
- Now that you have your negative thoughts on paper, let them be for the moment. You can always come back to them.
- Go and meet with your family or friends. Make the effort to work with them on steps to take to alleviate the situation. Discuss your fears with them.
- If you receive answers such as: ”Don’t worry, all will be fine at the end” or “Ah, it’s not a big deal, you can beat it”, then ask of them to be genuine and express their emotions and thoughts frankly.
- Ask them to help you find information such as possible treatments and solutions to your everyday responsibilities and chores.
- Distance yourself from individuals who whose well-meaning pity brings you down. Seek out those who encourage you, conduct research on your behalf, and create enjoyable activities for you. You need to feel empowered, not incapacitated.
- Copy your strengths, what you are grateful for, and what you enjoy from the list you created on sticky notes and stick them all around your home. Read them regularly and let them serve as encouraging reminders.
- As for your list of responsibilities and chores, prioritize them, jot down the steps needed to achieve them, and demand the cooperation of those loved ones you identified as sources of support.