Have you ever picked up the phone only to have that fateful call from your doctor letting you know that you have a disease that will change your life? When this happens, many people go through a series of emotions. Some feel sadness and grief for their past existence. Others feel angry at their bodies for not working the way they should. But one of the most common initial reactions to finding out you have a life altering illness is denial.
Accepting the inevitable and coming to terms with the fact that you are facing something bigger than expected is not easy, which makes denial understandable. In fact, it is what makes denial so common. And some experts have admitted that having a small dose of denial is important in some ways. Not only does it allow you to come to terms with the disease you are taking on, but it also gives your mind a period to adjust to what is happening in your body.
However, it is important that you only maintain this denial for a short period of time. Without doing so, you risk making yourself worse and may end up facing even more debilitating news that you are not ready for. The faster you can admit, understand and start coping with the possibility that your lifestyle will be forever changed, the better it will be for you.
Here are a few ways to know if your denial has gone too far:
It stops you from getting treatment â€“ If your denial has gotten you to the point where you do not believe that treatment is necessary to overcome whatever it is that you are fighting, you will likely hurt yourself even more by waiting to receive the treatment that will make you better. While a fear of harsh treatments, such as chemotherapy to fight cancer, is normal. Yet delaying treatment will only end up hurting you more in the long run and may require further treatments just because you waited too long to begin fighting the disease to begin with.
You avoid expressing the seriousness of your illness â€“ It can be difficult to put yourself in such a vulnerable state where you feel uncomfortable, judged or embarrassed to tell your family and friends how serious your illness actually is. Not only do you not want to make them worry about your well-being and lean on them for help, but you do not want them to look differently at you for what you are facing. While these are normal reactions, they can stop you from having the type of support system you need during the time when you are fighting disease.
It stops you from creating closure â€“ When you fail to let your loved ones know how sick you are, you risk the chance of passing away without them having a chance to say their goodbyes. While this may be easier on you, it can leave them filled with a lifetime of regret and remorse for the ending to your relationship. In the end, it is important that you admit to your loved ones what is happening so they not only can help you, but they can get their closure with the situation and not continue to live with the burden of feeling like they should have done more.
If you have determined that denial is holding you back, based on these three factors, it is time to move forward and stop belittling the giant disease that faces you and instead take reality on head and heart first. This will put you in a better position to create a peaceful life for you and your family in the long run. Here are a few ways you can start coping with your denial.
Be honest with yourself and your family members about what you fear most
Express out loud the negative consequences you could face by remaining in denial
Do not hold any emotions back
Try to identify irrational feelings you may have over your situation (such as, it will go away on its own)
Join a support group to talk to others who can understand
Open up to a person you trust most
Journal about your feelings and get them out on paper instead of bottling them inside
Doing these things will help break you from your denial and get you on the road to recovery and a happier life without the burden of a heavy secret and an even heavier disease.
About the Author:
Joyce Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australiaâ€™s leading providers of health and fitness courses and Natural Therapy Courses. When not working, Joyce blogs about health and fitness.If you have a blog and would like free content.