Seek out support
Seeking out and obtaining support when you have a long-term illness impacts emotional well-being and psychological health and can influence your ability to react versus respond to a diagnosis and treatment decisions. There are several kinds of support that might benefit you after a diagnosis and, luckily, plenty of places to turn to for it.
Take some time to reflect on your wants and needs. It may help to ask yourself a few questions before sharing your diagnosis with others or actively seeking support.
Am I comfortable sharing my diagnosis with others? Who do I trust with this information?
What type of support do I need? (Psychological, emotional, social, spiritual, practical or financial?)
Who or what is best suited to offer me these supports? What steps do I need to take to access them or request their help?
What feels like a good 1st step for me? (2nd step? 3rd?)
Below are a few sources of support to consider. For more information on building a solid support team, visit the Healthcare Options – Support page of this website.
Your Inner Circle
Family, friends, and other members of your inner circle are likely to be the first to step up to the plate to offer support and assistance after a diagnosis. You may be comfortable asking members of your inner circle to help you in ways that you would not ask of others, and their support can be invaluable. But remember: YOU’RE in control over who knows about your long-term illness. News tends to travel fast in close circles, and you may feel overwhelmed by those who are overly concerned with your health.
Support Group or others who have “been there”
It’s common to feel alone or misunderstood after a difficult diagnosis; realizing that there are others who share your experience can help alleviate those feelings. It may be helpful to speak one-on-one with someone who shares your diagnosis, especially if they can share positive experiences, tips, and helpful advice. Ask your healthcare providers or the local chapter of a relevant patient support organization if they can connect you with someone with a shared diagnosis – even better if you share other things in common, like age, where you live, or interests. Additionally, you may be interested in joining a support group specific to your disease, which most patient support organizations (visit here for a list of “Disease-specific Organizations & Resources) offer at locations throughout the country.
The diagnosis of a long-term disease marks a major transition in life and can cause overall emotional distress including fear, anxiety, stress, or depression, and more. A licensed therapist or psychologist is a valuable resource for helping to develop the coping strategies, thought processes and behaviors necessary to process your emotions and improve your mental well-being following a diagnosis. Therapists can also help with identifying lifestyle changes that may be necessary to successfully treat and manage a disease to establish a healing path forward.
Daily Living Support
Grocery shopping, meal planning, transportation to doctors’ appointments, child care, and financial assistance are areas which may require additional support when faced with a long-term illness. Luckily, resources like online shopping services, meal trains, car pooling and ride hailing apps, prescription assistance programs, crowdsourcing platforms, and many others can make life much more manageable. For a list of some of these resources, click here.