I wanted to write about this topic in hopes that it will help someone survive whatever diagnosis they may have received, knowing they are not alone on the journey.

Something hasn’t felt right so you finally go to the doctor to find out what’s going on. You’ve gotten through the battery of tests and now the news hits your ears. You receive a diagnosis and time suddenly seems to stand still. Your heart begins to beat at an unrecognizable rate. Your breathing becomes sporadic and the words coming out of the doctor’s mouth now seem muffled to your ears.

How am I able to describe this moment with such detail? It’s because I’ve been there, and I know all the feelings and emotions that come along with hearing a diagnosis. In my case it was Crohn’s disease. It’s a journey that I describe in detail in my book, Embracing a New Normal. Please read it if you want to know about my journey, but for the sake of this article, we’re concentrating on that initial day of diagnosis when the world begins to shift and move in slow motion.

On that day and for many days after, you may feel out of control because you don’t know what your life will look like from this point on. Depending on what health crisis you are facing, an insurmountable sense of fear can overtake you as the doctor goes into information overload about your prognosis. Numbness of thought is present as you try to comprehend the next steps, whether it’s a battery of tests or deciding on treatment options. It is overwhelming at this point and rightfully so, given the bombshell you just received.

Since I’ve been through this myself I thought that the following suggestions might lessen the bumps in the road:

  • Allow yourself time to process what you’ve just been told. Be patient with yourself through the process, but don’t allow yourself to slip into denial. Denial can lead to delay, which can be detrimental when seeking treatment options that may be of critical importance to your health.
  • It’s okay to cry and be upset because your world has been rocked. No amount of suppressing your feelings will diminish the fact that your life journey is forever changed.
  • Acknowledge the pain because it will free you up to move forward and keep you from becoming stuck by trying to act normal when in reality, you’re not.
  • It’s your journey and it will be unlike anyone else’s. No matter how similar, it will still be unique to you and that’s okay.
  • Know that you are courageous. Even in these difficult moments, learn to persevere by focusing on something positive that will get you through one day at a time.

You may find that the days to come will be a mixture of joy and sadness as you look at the world through modified lenses, but I know there is an inner strength that will be brought forth in every step you take. You may have been given a diagnosis, but the diagnosis doesn’t define all of who you are. There’s still life ahead waiting on you.

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