Well-Being

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Being diagnosed with a long-term disease raises many questions and concerns. With the diagnosis comes information about a chronic and often progressive disease that may lead to significant complications. Treatment may be possible and even successful, but it can be cumbersome and may lead to significant side effects. Yet, concerns about log-term disease go beyond medical questions about the disease and its treatment. Such a diagnosis can cause patients to feel alone, isolated, and rejected from their much-needed social support system.

Long-term illnesses are frequently associated with mental health issues. Because mental health affects every part of life, it is important to understand the many ways mind and body work together in people with long-term disease. We know that mental health conditions such as depression may occur along with physical symptoms and difficulties in daily functioning, ability to follow treatment directions, and quality of life. Furthermore, until recently, people with mental illness were often discouraged from seeking treatment for their disease for fear of making their mental health problems worse.

These issues, and many others, fall under the broad category of mental aspects of illness. It’s important to recognize that such issues can have a very real effect on your health. Acknowledging the mental aspects of your illness and taking control of them can be a significant step in your journey.

Accepting that you are on a journey is the first part to healing the mental virus that comes with those frightening words echoing in your head.

Well-Being & Long-Term Disease
You may have heard of a concept called the “95/5 rule.”
According to this rule, 95 percent of people are good and do their best to live life in a positive, supportive way. The remaining 5 percent do not. When we pay inordinate attention to the minority, we diminish the good of the majority and disempower ourselves.

The same holds true for practitioners caring for persons with long-term disease. Although there are great differences of opinion on the optimal course of treatment, most are trying very hard to do their best for their patients; a small portion is not. While we can learn from each other’s experiences, it’s up to each of us to deal with the caregivers we encounter on our respective journeys.

Western medicines are often studied against the placebo effect. As you’re probably aware, the placebo effect is the actuality that a particular treatment works because you believe it will work, and therefore, contributes to your healing. Well, if what we want to do is heal ourselves of a long-term disease, it only makes sense we would do whatever we can to enhance this placebo effect and make it more powerful. We can tell ourselves that a pill or herb will be effective and visualize it working in our bodies.

Throughout your journey, you may be told that a particular treatment was only beneficial because of your mind. That may be true. Regardless, a healthy response to such a suggestion is, “So what? It’s about healing!”

Along your journey, there will be many calls that you will have to make and actions you will have to take for yourself. Regardless of the path you choose, western medicine providors will be a constant part of your care equation for however long you are dealing with your long-term disease. In all likelihood, you will work with skilled and sensitive practitioners who understand your choices and offer guidance within that framework that you have designed. Unfortunately, you will also probably encounter physicians who will not support your course of action and who are not interested in the potential you see in an integrative approach. And finally, you may even encounter a few medical professionals whose manner will leave you feeling depersonalized and devalued.

How you choose to process these experiences is up to you.

Well-Being & Good Mental Health
How you choose to process these experiences is up to you.

The diagnosis of a long-term disease can cause patients to feel alone, isolated, and rejected from their much-needed social support system.

Being diagnosed with a long-term disease raises many questions and concerns. With the diagnosis comes information about a chronic and often progressive disease that may lead to significant complications. Treatment may be possible and even successful, but it can be cumbersome and may lead to significant side effects. Yet, concerns about log-term disease go beyond medical questions about the disease and its treatment. Such a diagnosis can cause patients to feel alone, isolated, and rejected from their much-needed social support system. Long-term illnesses are frequently associated with mental health issues.

Because mental health affects every part of life, it is important to understand the many ways mind and body work together in people with long-term disease.

We know that mental health conditions such as depression may occur along with physical symptoms and difficulties in daily functioning, ability to follow treatment directions, and quality of life. Furthermore, until recently, people with mental illness were often discouraged from seeking treatment for their disease for fear of making their mental health problems worse.

These issues, and many others, fall under the broad category of well-being. It’s important to recognize that such issues can have a very real effect on your health. Acknowledging the mental aspects of your illness and taking control of them can be a significant step in your journey.

No one wants or deserves to be sick. What matters is what you do with your diagnosis.

You can choose to become a victim of that diagnosis or you can choose to empower yourself with knowledge and to live the best you can with the hand you have been dealt. Accepting that you are on a journey is the first part to healing the mental virus that comes with those frightening words echoing in your head.

Any life changing event can bring on depression. You may have never experienced it before and suddenly you find yourself completely overwhelmed. We encourage you to address depression immediately; help is available. Treatment for depression is not always just taking a pill. Exercise, meditation, and acupuncture have been shown to help with depression in many long term diseases. Explore what works for you and add it to your plan.

One step that you might consider is finding a qualified therapist to accompany you on your journey. Prior to your diagnosis you may never have spoken with anyone about your mental health. Getting through therapy may require you to reach out to a support group or a psychiatrist. Remember your life has changed overnight. Change is not easy for anyone; we encourage you to use every tool possible to help you be successful in whatever therapy you are undergoing.

If you are like most people, you do not like to ask for help and may not even know how. Ask for help. You are not alone.