by Matt Davey
Health is weird, right!?
Until it’s bad, or questionable you probably never give it too much thought.
Outside of exercise guilt, avoiding junk food for every meal, and the occasional hungover Sunday, most symptoms can be cured by a pep talk or a coffee.
When I was 23, this reality changed for me as I was diagnosed with brain cancer and epilepsy.
The word cancer is terrifying. And epilepsy… what did that even mean?
I honestly had no idea of how either condition would actually impact me, or influence every decision that I needed to make moving forward.
Cue Chronic Health.
For many chronic-health patients, a diagnosis or the lead up to, can be an overwhelming experience.
Trying to understand symptoms, changes in your lifestyle and the introduction of a medical team can create stress, uncertainty and mental anguish.
When you get diagnosed with any health condition, the immediate response (for me at least) was to fix the problem, and get back to ‘normal’. However, chronic conditions redefine what ‘normal’ means for the patient.
When I first found out, my logic kicked in and I kept myself very busy. I struggled to accept what was actually happening and focus on the reality.
Dealing with appointments, moving interstate and catching up with friends and family kept me occupied (whilst actively avoiding any real emotion). BUT, this didn’t last for long and my mental health suffered as a result.
The New ‘Normal’
My doctors all had a similar response to my questions around work, travel and life following diagnosis.
This was the ‘new normal’ and I had to make the best of it.
- Know my limits
- Rest more
- Take an alternative approach to everything
There was no going back and this was a hard pill to swallow.
What should I do with my days? Will I ever have a career again? Can I date or socialise ‘normally’ again? Am I a burden to everyone around me?
These questions repeatedly surfaced as I came to terms with my chronic conditions.
Learning my limits and understanding how to approach my health has been a very steep learning curve.
Perspective is Key
Everyone has a different experience (of course) but any condition without a quick fix means trying to understand your health more clearly, staying connected and finding meaning in life after diagnosis.
When I was first diagnosed, I had absolutely no idea what was happening. Or why.
But over time, I was able to understand my conditions more clearly, find the support + treatments that worked for me and connect with others to help me move forward.
Being patient with myself and practicing mindfulness has helped me to gain a better perspective (along with a very open mind around holistic health).
Thanks for reading.