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Dealing with change

A disgruntled girl in a doctor's waiting room.

If you recently found out that you have a serious health problem or were recently injured, you may be going through huge changes now. Or you may be facing big changes if your condition has started to get worse.

Everybody has their own reactions to changes in their health or body, and there’s no one way to feel. One person may feel really angry or shocked, but another person may feel lucky that their situation isn’t worse. There’s no one right way to feel.

At times, you may feel a deep sense of loss, missing the way your life used to be. You may go through a grieving process, almost like when a close friend or loved one has died. It can help to know what to expect when you’re dealing with these feelings. Common parts of grief include:

  • Denial, or having a hard time accepting your injury or illness. For example, if you have a spinal cord injury, you may think the injury will go away, even if you can’t move.
  • Extreme sadness over what has happened. Sadness is different from depression, which is a serious health condition. Learn more about depression and getting help for it.
  • Anger toward the people around you and even toward yourself.
  • Hope that if you take really good care of your health, you’ll get completely well. That may not be possible, but it’s important to work hard to stay healthy and live well with your condition.
  • Acceptance of your injury or illness. You may find yourself saying, "Okay, I have this condition. Now let me think about what I want for my future.”

It can take time to adjust, so be patient with yourself. Often, how you react to what happens is as important as what happens. If you work on feeling well emotionally and physically, things will get easier. Remember that there are lots of ways to create joy and strength in your life. Read about how getting support, boosting your self-esteem, and focusing on interests like hobbies can help as you move forward in building a really good life for yourself.


Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013