When you first find out you have a serious illness, you suffer extreme shock; as does your family. Most of the time you will want to appear strong. You don’t want to upset your loved ones, so you try not to cry, not to yell, not to shake with fear; you think you absolutely must be strong.
This is not necessarily the way to act. There is evidence to support that crying is good for you. It is a way to release your emotions so that you can be strong. Often you cry so much, you shake and tremble. If you also want to yell and scream and throw things, do so.
Releasing your emotions in this way is just one sample of what you can do to help you cope. The important thing though, is not to give in to your emotions. Let it all out, then take control again.
If you are a caregiver, you must let your emotions out to. You probably think that you have to hide your fears from the one suffering the illness so that you don’t upset them. But to hold each other and cry uncontrollably can not only help you both cope, it can give you both the strength you need.
Perhaps the only loved ones you have to be careful with are the very young. They can see crying and yelling as an expression of fear. The fear they feel may adversely affect them for life. But sharing some tears, while hugging each other, can also help them to cope with this difficult to understand situation.
Even after you have recovered from your illness you can still suffer bouts of emotion; sometimes when you least expect it. After I had recovered from my stroke and brain tumour, I started giving talks to a number of groups. I was speaking for my sixth time, telling my story which contained the phrase ‘I had the shock of my life’ – but this time when I said those words, I suddenly found myself feeling the same sensation as what I experienced when I first had to face the shock, two years earlier.
My voice quavered then broke. I found myself in tears, half way through my talk. Everyone sat rock still, looking at me. I took a deep breath, apologised and continued. My voice was still pretty shaky, but after a couple of minutes, I was back to normal.
I guess what I have learned is that I must accept and expect an emotional breakdown from time to time. But I also realise that I must move forward and be positive and strong as well. You can be both emotional and strong; you just have to learn to keep a balance.
You can see how my speaking engagements have been accepted, allowing me to help reach out to the wider community so that I can motivate and inspire many others who may be suffering from some trauma (or may be caregivers or loved ones).
Hints and Tips
Don’t feel guilty about being emotional. Emotions are a part of being strong. Balance the two and learn to accept both as a normal, positive path to recovery.