Coping With Bad News
Receiving bad news can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. Unfortunately, we folks with lived or living experience of hepatitis C are already familiar with how receiving bad news feels. Unfortunately, our diagnosis is often the first of many bits of “bad news” we receive in our journey along the continuum of care.
Strategies for processing bad news
Learning how to process these situations and how to take in bad information in a way that is not harmful to ourselves and others can also be a learning curve. It is important to take time to process the news and find healthy ways to cope with the emotions that arise.
Here are some tips for healthily processing bad news:
Feel your feelings
It's perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions when receiving bad news. Even ones that don’t quite make sense or fit the situation. Allow yourself to feel your emotions without judgment or shame.
It's okay to cry, be angry, or feel scared. It’s also okay not to be sure what you are feeling. Feelings aren’t necessarily bad or good. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to experience them.
Seek support! Reach out to family, friends, or a professional counselor for support. If those options aren’t realistic or affordable, seek online support groups and forums. There are many valuable communities online where voices of lived and living experience can lend guidance and support, just like this one.
Talking to someone can help you work through your emotions and can sometimes even help you get a different perspective on the situation.
Take care of your physical health
When dealing with bad news, it's easy to forget that our physical health is equally important to our mental health. Taking care of your body can help you better cope with stress and emotions.
With exercise, I adopt a “something is better than nothing” mentality. That means that I try and focus on what I have accomplished rather than what I haven’t. Even if I only pace around my living room for five minutes or do a few squats, it is better than having done nothing.
I put the same mentality into healthy eating: I eat as well as I can, as often as possible. This mindset has become helpful in recent times as the cost of food has become very high where I live. Thinking of the body as a machine that needs regular fuel and maintenance helps me remember to be mindful of my physical health during times of crisis.
Make sure to take time for yourself to do things that you enjoy. Self-care is more effective if you gain something from the practice. Unfortunately, when we are coping with bad news, it can often be hard to identify enjoyable things.
If you don’t know what you enjoy, this is a perfect time to experiment. The internet is a wealth of ideas and information on the topic. Actively practicing self-care can help you to reduce stress and find some relief from the emotional toll of receiving bad news.
Focus on what you can control
The concept of control, change, and surrender of difficult situations, people, and things is very familiar to me as a person in long-term recovery from substance use. They even have a whole prayer about it!
However, this advice can most certainly be applied by anyone when it comes to receiving bad or life-altering news. It's important to identify what you can control and what you cannot. Identify what steps you can take to cope with the situation or make things better and do your best to let go of the things you cannot change. Remember, this too shall pass.
Get professional help
If you're having trouble coping with receiving bad news that affects your mental health, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you develop coping strategies and provide additional support.
However, not everyone can afford or access appropriate therapeutic support from a private counselor or therapist. In those situations, I recommend searching online for available resources for your specific needs.
Those of us with lived or living experience of hepatitis C know that receiving bad news can be a challenging, life-changing experience. Although we may not be able to change our situation, we might be able to find some healthy ways to cope with it.
Allowing yourself to feel your emotions, seeking support, taking care of your physical and mental health, focusing on what you can control, and finding professional help if needed are just some of how we can take care of ourselves when we receive bad news.
In conclusion, remember that it's always okay to take time to process the news and take care of yourself when facing experiences like this.
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