The Mighty Logo

5 Ways to Cope When You Develop Multiple Health Issues

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

There are many diseases that often result in the formation or development of a secondary condition. For example: according to the Mayo Clinic website, multiple sclerosis causes complications of one’s personality, emotional disorders, and cognitive changes.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can significantly increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, comas, vegetative state, and or seizures.

It’s hard enough having to deal with one predominant health concern, so what can be done to better deal with any other health issues that derive from the primary?

​Let’s examine one specific case where a traumatic brain injury causes other neurological complications such as: Bell’s palsy. The Mayo Clinic defines Bell’s palsy as a partial, sometimes permanent paralyzation of facial nerves on one side of an individual’s face. The general cause is assumed to be from swelling, inflammation, or from a viral circumstance. However, seeing as though the facial nerves and the cranial nerves are connected, if an individual experiences brain trauma or damage, it’s not hard to see why connecting nerves would also be affected.

Now, let’s dive into ways on how to construct some coping methods:

1. Research, research, and more research.

First and foremost, those of us who live with a chronic illness need to gather as much information as we can. We have to be able to understand how and why events are occurring so that we can decide on how to manage and further move forward. The phrase “the more you know” truly fits well here. What’s most frustrating is jumping from doctor to doctor getting different information every visit. It’s hard to figure out what is objective and what is subjective opinion, and that is why doing your own individual research is often better to put you more at ease.

2. Get a second opinion.

One doctor might tell a TBI survivor that after a certain amount of time taking a nap during the day should be avoided, yet, according to the National Public Radio organizational website, “A study of 30 patients hospitalized for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries found that sleep quality and brain function improved in tandem.” Not only is conducting your own research important, but it’s best to compare and contrast the opinions of doctors that are providing for your care. Two doctors may give you opposing instructions on what they feel is best, but what needs to be taken into consideration is your body. What does your body tell you is best? If you feel better and can manage easier with a nap during the day, then it’s best that you let your body tell you what it needs. This method is not foolproof, so please be sure to incorporate the opinions of the doctors as well, but get a second opinion if you’re unsure.

3. Ask questions.

One of the best tactics that I have used to gain knowledge about how to better manage complications is asking other survivors, and others individuals who have a similar condition, various questions in regards to their personal experience. I call this the compare and contrast method. This does not mean compare how much worse one situation is verses the other. I strongly discourage doing that. What I mean by this is gathering up different coping methods of other survivors and then comparing and incorporating those methods to my own situation.

For example, another TBI survivor may find that journaling helps them to better relax and keep track of their thoughts. If I were to compare that method with my own situation having a TBI, would that have the same or similar affect for me as well? I feel that better questions can be asked to other survivors who have personally experienced the medical condition. Doctors study on the subject and know the facts about it, but what about actually living life with the medical condition? There’s a big difference between knowing the facts, and living out the facts.

4. Remember to incorporate friends and family

A huge coping method is staying close to those who love and support you. The last thing a person with a chronic illness needs is the stress of having to engage with those who make you feel personally responsible for the illness. Some of us survivors already often have enough guilt placed on ourselves to begin with, which is why we are in need of those around us who will remind us that this is not our fault, they have our backs, and that we will get through this. Encouragement is what is needed, not a reminder that our illness can be an inconvenience.

We have to feel like we still have a life worth living. Many of us struggle with depression after having a TBI because our lives get flipped upside down. Incorporating time with friends and family serves as a reminder that just because our lives may have drastically changed, that doesn’t mean we have become disconnected from those whose lives we have positively influenced.

5. Return to our goals

Life goals are a big must-have. Having these goals pushes us to keep pressing forward and making steps, no matter how small, to achieve the end result that we are after. It is also a way to remind ourselves that we have worth, despite having a major setback in life.

We have purpose that we can strive for. This is huge for those who are struggling with extreme depression and possible suicidal thoughts. As long as we know that the illness does not define us, we can start to make
preparations for having a life filled with quality and purpose. The more goals that we are able to accomplish, the less critical we become of ourselves, and not only that, we begin to create bigger and better goals to accomplish!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: OGri

Originally published: August 24, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home