Have you ever gone to your doctor for either the first time or for a follow-up visit and received some news that was either surprising or worse than you had expected? Your reaction might have been one of frustration and irritation. Why did this happen to me? What is going to become of me and my family? Is everything going to turn out okay? You might feel like you are the only person going through these different emotions.
Know that these feelings are normal and range from fear, denial, anger, bargaining to depression. Everyone goes through these stages of sadness when dealing with an illness. And it is not always predictable. You might go through all of the stages in a matter of a few minutes. Or you might get trapped in one of these emotions for weeks or months. Moving quickly between these emotions is what most people do, especially early in the course of illness. As illness progress you may stay longer in one emotion. Finally, for most people the roller coaster of emotion ends and there is acceptance.
What happens when you (or a loved one) gets stuck in one of those strong emotions? First, recognize that you are stuck. You might spot it in yourself. Or, others around you might have to point it out. Here are some signs you might be stuck:
- Follow-up visits might be missed.
- You do not take your medications properly.
- Good nutrition, exercise, and proper sleep are avoided.
It’s not healthy to remain stuck in a negative emotion. Improving your mood is critical to wellness. So what can you do to feel better?
- Know that you are normal and you can get out of the negative emotion. It often requires support from all the important people around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- You may want to isolate yourself, however removing yourself from your friends and family only makes the problem worse. Getting involved rather than dwelling on your own situation is the key to escape. Do something with others. Going to your place of worship, or simply doing something fun are ways of improving your mood.
- Move your body and get some exercise. Going for a walk, playing with your children or taking a yoga class will release the hormones that increase happiness.
- Laugh. Go to a funny movie, a comedy show or spend time with people who make you laugh.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sometimes bad days or bad things happen. Wishing it wasn’t so will create stress. Stress is another burden to add to your chronic illness. Find ways to relax. Maybe keep a journal, call a friend or listen to uplifting music.
- Take charge and get educated. The more you know and understand your options and what you can do to improve your health will give you power.
What if you try and just are not making any progress out of the sadness? You may have depression. You may need professional help, so if you are struggling, let your doctor know so that he/she may help you.
It is normal to have many different emotions when you have a chronic illness. Remain positive. You can do this.
Remember, good emotional health is as important as good physical health.