Humans, as a species, are big fans of homeostasis. Or, in other words, when things stay the same and secure for long periods of time. This is important for mental well-being and for reducing stress levels.
However, there are times when homeostasis goes out the window, and nowhere is this more apparent than when you or someone you love is diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or Alzheimer’s.
Even though it can seem and feel overwhelming, there are a few ways to cope with the uncertainty that these conditions can bring, and some of those options will be explored here.
Learn As Much as You Can
When it comes to illnesses, there are seemingly endless sources of information online – some of them are great, and some of them are not so great! So, when you are trying to learn about health issues like cancer, aim to get your information from a verifiable source, such as the Moffitt Cancer Center or Macmillan. This will help you better understand your condition and build up your knowledge and coping strategies around managing it better in daily life.
Accept What You Can’t Control
Historically, humans are not great at doing this, especially when it comes to health and especially if they have underlying mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
However, when you or a loved one are trying to manage a chronic illness, there will be a lot of things that neither you, they, or the medical staff can control. This is unnerving and unsettling, but if you can’t control it, there is nothing you can do. If you are struggling with this concept and your mental health is suffering, please seek help from a mental health professional.
Suppose you recently got some bad news about your condition or another life issue, and you panicked, broke down, and began crying. Is that really so unusual or abnormal? No – it’s completely normal and to be expected!
When people are unwell, they seemingly hold themselves to impossible standards, especially if they also have mental health issues. If you have gotten a diagnosis of cancer, for example, you can’t always be strong, you can’t always be rational, and you can always hold it together. Practice self-compassion when you can, and you will be amazed at how much this can help you build resilience and inner strength.
One key way to get support when facing a chronic health issue is to seek support from groups online or in the community. It is, however, best to avoid platforms like TikTok when doing this!
Ask the medical team who are involved in your or your family’s care about the best groups online or in the local area. This will help you to not feel isolated and will help you talk openly about what you are going through with an understanding group of people. This will build your confidence and your strength and help you build resilience against change and uncertainty with the health issue at hand.