Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

How Long Till It Sinks In

Receiving the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness is unnerving.  It throws you off-center and for many it takes a bit of time for the diagnosis to “sink in”.  There’s a difference between it sinking in and coming to terms with, or accepting the diagnosis.  The diagnosis “sinking in” means that it becomes a part of the reality.

The question you may be asking is, “Exactly how long does it take to “sink in?”  That’s a tricky question because everyone is different.  There are many factors that contribute to it “sinking in”.  Do you know anyone who has faced a health challenge and how did they handle it?  In your meetings with the doctor what’s the prognosis?  Where are you on the illness continuum, ranging from reasonably healthy to terminally ill?  The answer to each of these questions will impact how quickly your diagnosis “sinks in”.

So here’s the next question.  Once it sinks in, what are you going to do?  How will you take this information, this new from the doctor and what are your next steps?  How have you handled challenges in your life prior to your illness; that may be a good indication of how you’ll handle this current challenge.

There are many things that may have to “sink in” following the diagnosis.  First is the realization that life the moment before the doctor ushered those magic words is somewhat different from following the infamous news.  Your assumptions about what it means to be healthy in this world will shift.  You’ll become more conscious of your own health and the health of others.  You’ll feel bombarded by messages about illness from the news, television programs, commercials, and a host of other arenas.

What if it never sinks in?  That is always a possibility.  Those who have not had that point of coming to terms with their diagnosis will often struggle through treatment, be resistant to outside support, and be more pessimistic.  It’s not like you can develop an alter physical being and put the sick one in the closet till they invent a cure.  It’s about integration.

My wish for you is that your diagnosis “sinks in” in the perfect time for you integrate the information and make informed decisions.  My wish for you is that you allow the diagnosis to “sink in” so that you can pull all your internal resources together to fortify your health and healing energy.  My wish for you is the highest quality of life possible given your abilities and possibilities.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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