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Just Diagnosed (Again?)

Just Diagnosed (Again?)


'I found out I have type 2 diabetes,' a client I'll call Amy told me. 'Now I have another pill to take and more symptoms to watch out for. Haven't I had enough bad news?' Clients often talk to me about new medical diagnoses. Some have just learned that they are HIV-positive, while others have been living with HIV and are experiencing conditions that may or may not be related or that may simply be part of the aging process. New diagnoses can conjure up feelings and issues that haven't been around since the initial HIV diagnosis'like self-blame, loss of self-esteem, and hopelessness. It might be time to flex your coping muscles. If you have received a new diagnosis, I want to encourage you to face this new challenge by strengthening your emotional well-being. Here a few ideas: Don't report yourself to the 'positive thought' police. I often hear clients tell me that they know they shouldn't be feeling 'this way' and that they are focusing on having what they call a 'positive attitude.' Feelings are only feelings. When you let yourself experience your emotions, they lose their power. When you hold them in, they find their way out on their own'sometimes through physical symptoms. Don't confuse maintaining an optimistic attitude, which promotes health, with denying yourself permission to experience your feelings, both positive and negative. Reach out to a supportive friend or consider talking to a therapist. Beware of adopting the victim role, even if you think you deserve to. When something bad happens in our lives, it's only human to ask 'Why me?' So go ahead and ask. But letting yourself become engulfed in the unfairness of it all is disempowering. Instead, look beyond the 'why' question and focus on 'What can I do?' Update your self-image, but maintain your optimism. Living with HIV is about dealing with the challenges that come along the way, which in turn can affect the way you feel, the way you live your daily life, and ultimately the way you view yourself. Remember that you are much more than another medical diagnosis. Keep focused on the big picture'who you are to yourself and to others, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Your future is still yours to determine. Update your strategy based on what is realistic today'and then create your vision of what may be possible for tomorrow. McClain is a licensed counselor in New York City with a specialty in coping with chronic and life-threatening health conditions. His books include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Breaking Bad Habits and Empowering Your Life With Joy, and he is a frequent contributor to health-related publications.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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