Being diagnosed with a long term or serious illness can involve a series of adjustments and changes that a person might never have imagined would ever happen to them. These can include getting used to taking regular medications, managing symptoms, changes at work (reducing hours or maybe giving up work), financial adjustments, getting used to attending regular medical appointments, maybe even adaptations to the home to make it more accessible. Along with these changes, the news of a diagnosis can bring up a range of feelings from a sense of shock to disbelief, anger, denial and so on. There is no ‘normal’ way to feel or pattern of feelings. Many have compared this process to a grieving process where a person can experience a range of emotions and perhaps revisit some of the different feelings multiple times.
For others, the long term reality of living with a serious or long term illness can have an emotional impact at a later stage, once the ‘new reality’ has settled into its own pace. The sense of loss can be overwhelming – the individual is grieving for the loss of their healthy self – something many of us take for granted when we are healthy. At the same time the individual is living with their new (unexpected and unwelcome) reality; is possibly experiencing symptoms which are difficult to manage and is probably feeling the effects of the stress that accompanies all of it. At times it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Talking to a professional can help sort through these feelings as well as offering the opportunity to learn to manage the stress.
Since 2001 Geraldine has been working with people coming to terms with a serious illness diagnosis; and living with serious long term conditions.