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6 Steps to Take If You’ve Been Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

Chronic Doctor's Office
Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

Written by Marcus Lansky (

After suffering for months or even years on end, your doctor has finally given you a specific chronic illness diagnosis. Now that you have an explanation for your symptoms, you can start treatments and ideally find some relief. But what are your first steps to healing? Working with a coach through BitterSweet Coaching can help you find your way if you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Here’s how to manage your medical files, choose an insurance policy, and more.

Keep Your Medical Files Organized

Perhaps you’ve been in and out of doctors’ offices for months while dealing with mysterious symptoms and taking test after test. Now, you have a stack of paperwork from all of the appointments leading up to your diagnosis.

Don’t lose these documents - instead, keep categorized folders for your physical records and digitize your files if necessary. For example, if you’ll have to share any of these files with doctors and specialists, family members, caregivers, or insurance professionals, try converting them to PDFs rather than sending Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files to preserve their formatting. To, all you have to do is drag and drop these files into an online tool.

Determine Your Insurance Coverage

Getting adequate insurance coverage for your medications and treatments can be one of the most frustrating aspects of having a chronic illness. You might have coverage through your employer, but many people with chronic illnesses choose to work as freelancers, as the flexibility of this path better suits their needs.

If you’re a freelancer, you have a few options for insurance. You can purchase a health insurance policy from the marketplace or the Freelancer’s Union, and you will not be denied for having a pre-existing condition. If you’re married, you might be able to join your spouse’s insurance. Alternatively, if you’ve recently left a full-time job, you may be eligible for COBRA, but these types of plans can be quite pricey.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Keeping up with basic healthy habits to the extent that you’re able can minimize your symptoms. This means prioritizing your sleep, eating nutritious meals at home, and drinking plenty of water.

Monitor Your Symptoms

To figure out whether or not a particular treatment is working, you’ll have to assess your symptoms over time. CareWell recommends keeping a “symptom journal” and writing down the date, the specific medications or treatments that you’re using, what you’ve eaten, if you’ve exercised, and how you feel. This will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t over time.

Seek Mental Health Support

When you are struggling with your physical health, therapy can be a great emotional outlet. You’ve got a lot on your mind, and talking to a therapist can help you process it all. My Wellbeing states that through therapy, you can develop strong coping skills and learn how to continue pursuing your passions and hobbies while dealing with your illness.

Learn to Ask For Help

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help. This might mean turning to your friends and relatives for assistance when your symptoms are severe or even creating some room in your budget for hired help, like house cleaners, meal delivery services, or laundry services. Outsourcing tasks when you can afford to take a burden off of your shoulders!

Living with a chronic illness is not easy. But you can build a fulfilling life for yourself despite your diagnosis. With these tips, you’ll be able to organize your medical files, assess your insurance coverage, and get the help you need.

Ready to turn over a new leaf in life after receiving your diagnosis? Turn to BitterSweet Coaching! Book a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about our coaching services.

Photo via Unsplash


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