Updated: Aug 22, 2019
You’ve been having this nagging issue for a while now. Maybe it’s pain, maybe it’s trouble sleeping, a stomach issue, or headaches. Whatever it is, you finally decide to get it checked out. You walk into your doctor’s office and after some thorough assessment and testing, you come out with… a new diagnosis.
At first you might be relieved, perhaps thinking: “Yes! I knew this wasn’t normal! There’s a name for it, I’m not alone!” But as you continue to listen to your doctor, or worse, venture into the abyss of Google, you start to panic, thinking: “People with this diagnosis experience what? Am I going to go down this route too?” Before you get too panicked, here are some things to keep in mind when receiving a diagnosis.
It’s just a label
A diagnosis is simply a label used to describe a set of symptoms that seem to occur together and may have a common cause (though it’s not always known). They can be helpful in quickly communicating overall what is happening in a person and can help treatment by comparing the current situation with what has happened in people with those same symptoms in the past.
You are more than a diagnosis
This is especially important for diagnoses that come with symptoms that are more chronic in nature (pain or other health concerns that are around for more than 6 months). It can be easy to slip into identifying with the diagnosis, which can become quite disempowering. A common phrase I’ve heard in my office and one that I’ve also used myself in my own experience with having received a chronic diagnosis is, “I have [insert diagnosis] so I can’t do [insert potentially fun thing].”
Try replacing this phrase with “If I didn’t have [insert diagnosis] I would do [insert potentially fun thing] because…” This helps you figure out why you want to do something and you may be surprised at what you can do if your why is strong enough (sometimes it involves getting a little creative). Conversely, you may be surprised to find that you never really wanted to do the thing in the first place.
Everyone is different
Dr. Seuss may have said it best when he said that there's no one youer than you! This is important to remember when receiving a diagnosis, especially since it usually comes with a prognosis. A prognosis is a prediction into how an illness might progress. Again, this is based on how people with similar health concerns fared. While this may help estimate best treatment options or timelines, please don’t forget to account for your uniqueness as well.
The only thing that has changed is insight
Before you received the diagnosis, you were dealing with a health concern. After you received the diagnosis, you are still dealing with the same health concern only now you have some insight into how to best cope with and manage that health concern. You are always in the driver’s seat, your new diagnosis and healthcare provider are simply providing a map and some directions to optimal health and living your best life, whatever that looks like for you.
Are you struggling with a new diagnosis or an old one that’s holding you back? Reach out and get in touch, I’d love to chat!