When we have received a new diagnosis, we require some time to try to make sense of this diagnosis ourselves. We turn to credible health providers that we work with for key information, and we may also turn to the internet to educate ourselves further.
Often however, even as we are trying to understand what a new diagnosis entails, there are others in our life that we are charged with updating. This may be close or extended family members who knew we were going for investigations, bloodwork, or consultations. This may also be work colleagues who are aware we have had to miss work recently. Or it may be our close friends who we want to share this with.
There are a number of aspects of this process of sharing with others that regularly can cause trepidation.
- Fear of worrying people we love. It is understandable that we didn’t ask for this diagnosis and we certainly don’t want to worry others. Speak with your health care team or mental health provider about tips for communicating clearly with others about your particular diagnosis. If there are parameters regarding how long treatment will take, that is often good information to communicate. Arm yourself with the facts. There may also be consultations that can be done with family members through your health care team or mental health provider, or recommended readings for loved ones.
- Fear of being pitied or treated differently. This is a very common sentiment amongst those adjusting to their new diagnosis. It is important to know that for most conditions you are not responsible or at fault for this diagnosis, and with clear, factual communication with your loved ones, they will see that you understand and have a handle on this unforeseen life circumstance. More times than not, family members, colleagues and friends express that they are impressed with one’s ability to get assessed and to access and uptake treatment. They may even be inspired to go see their own healthcare providers.
A health psychologist, mental health professional, or often other health care providers can help you create an “elevator pitch” about your new condition that is factual, two to three sentences long, and instils a sense that this condition is understood and that treatment planning is well underway. They can also help you refine this for children or teenagers if needed, and for individuals at varying levels of closeness.
The Downtown Psychology Clinic would be pleased to help you with this “elevator pitch”, as well as other adjustment issues surrounding a new diagnosis.