Announcing you’ve been diagnosed and discussing the progression of the disease with those around you can help you live better with your condition. By deciding on the right time and preparing yourself, you can have productive discussions that will help build a strong support system.
Sharing your diagnosis with your loved ones will help you face the daily challenges of the disease together. Take the time to prepare yourself to make this moment as stress-free as possible. Your loved ones will probably have a lot of questions for you, so make sure you can answer them as best as you can. You can decide which information you would like to share with them.
You should also anticipate and be prepared for different reactions from every family member so you can be as reassuring as possible.
You may feel tempted to keep your diagnosis hidden for years, especially if you have not coped with your diagnosis yet. By hiding your disease, you are keeping your loved ones in your pre-diagnosis life.
Speaking with your loved ones engages them in new relationships and connects your prior and post-diagnosis life. This brings together the past that you shared with your loved ones, your present condition and the future plans you have invited them to take part in. By doing this, your story’s main actors are you and your loved ones instead of the disease.
Revealing your diagnosis can prevent social isolation, which is common in Parkinson’s, and be a therapeutic act that helps you better live with the disease.
The first years of treatment are commonly referred to as the “honeymoon phase” because your disease can go unnoticed without too many adjustments on your part. But you cannot pretend to be living in the same conditions as your old life for too long. Take advantage of the fact that you still have enough energy to take this step with your loved ones,
Moving on from pretending to talking openly about your disease is a major accomplishment that allows you to bridge your old life and the one that lies ahead.
The length and extent of the steps involved in coping with the diagnosis vary from person to person. Take a step back from your acceptance process to find out where you stand before you tell those around you. Don’t underestimate your capabilities, nor the future concerns of your loved ones.
You will soon realize that there is no single perfect way of telling your loved ones about your diagnosis. All of your announcements will be different depending on how you feel that day and the person you are speaking to.
During the announcement:
To prepare yourself for this moment, you can consult a healthcare professional or join a local support group.
Your children’s age and maturity level will guide how you will tell them about your diagnosis. In any case, try to be reassuring.
Speaking about Parkinson’s disease with a teenager may be more difficult than with a younger child. Adolescence is a unique period filled with emotional and physical changes, as well as potential conflictual relationships with parents.
Following your announcement, your child may feel angry due to internal fear. They may also be in denial, or on the contrary, be very worried and want to be heavily involved.
Your teenager may also feel embarrassed, especially around their friends. With time, they will realize that people will accept your disease, which will help them accept it better as well.
Your children will first need to deal with the emotional shock of the announcement. Uncertainty regarding where your health is headed and the new family roles they will have to take on may then take over. Many of these fears are caused by assumptions and misconceptions about the disease. You can help them by informing them about the disease and reassuring them about the slow progression of the disease.
By preparing yourself ahead of time, every announcement will become easier, more efficient and will better meet the needs of each of your loved ones.
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