Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Kennedy’s Disease not only impacts the body, it also works on you mentally and emotionally.  Occasionally, a person can feel overwhelmed.  When this happens, other health concerns might appear including loss of sleep, appetite and energy as well as difficulty thinking straight.  Most of us living with Kennedy’s Disease have had moments of self-doubt and frustration.  Fear and anxiety are also common emotions as we work towards acceptance. 


When any of the above health issues appear and remain for more than a week or two, it is important that you contact your doctor because these symptoms could lead to other health concerns. 

In this month’s Humana Active Outlook magazine, Andrea Gollin discussed “When the Doctor’s News is Not Good.”  In this article Ms. Gollin and Jane Thibault, MA, MSSW, Ph.D. at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, discuss how bad news from your doctor can impact your health. 

Ms. Thibault stresses that there are many strategies that will help individuals find their way through an illness.  She explains that “when people are sick (or have been diagnosed with an incurable disease), there is often a loss involved – a loss of their former state of health.  People go through a grieving process, which varies depending upon the person and their situation. … You go back and forth through different stages, depending upon what is happening with your health at the time.”

The stages include:
  1. Shock and denial
  2. Pain and guilt
  3. Anger and bargaining
  4. Depression, reflection, and loneliness
  5. An upward turn
  6. Reconstruction and working through
  7. Acceptance and hope
Ms. Thibault explains that often a person might go through some of these stages several times as medical complications and setbacks happen.

She advises that the best way to cope is to “try to keep as normal a lifestyle as possible, but don’t overdo it.”  She also recommends supporting yourself as much as possible in the following core needs.
  • Protect and nurture your body – be responsible to yourself.  (Take care of yourself by eating right, quit smoking, exercise appropriately, etc.)
  • Love and be loved – caring for relationships and family members, friends, the community and your pets. (Develop and maintain a support system)
  • Have a place in society – continue your normal activities and volunteer to help others.  (Do not isolate yourself from the world)
  • Be connected to a cause – or something greater than yourself.  (Focus on something important where you can help make a difference)
I would add to the list above … maintain a hobby.  And, hobbies that involve others are especially helpful.


Ms. Thibault concludes by saying, “Any kind of illness challenges your ability to do the things you need to do.  The more core needs you maintain and nurture, the better off you’ll be.”

The key is to not allow these thoughts and emotions to control your life.  The more time you are involved in things that you enjoy and spend time with people you love, the less time you have to worry.  Distractions, as long as they are positive ones, help free your mind and emotions.

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