After weeks, months, or even years of searching for answers, a diagnosis – even a challenging one – can be a relief. There’s something extraordinarily powerful about being able to put a name to your symptoms and the cause behind them. However, that relief brings a hefty dose of its own fear and uncertainty with it. You find yourself wondering what your life will look like from here, and how you can cope with – and afford – the challenges ahead.
If you are in the midst of these mixed emotions, you are far from alone. The Council for Disability Awareness works hard to bring people with disabilities together and give them the tools they need to live their best lives. Here are some tips for how to affordably navigate the early days of a disability diagnosis.
Focus on What You Can Control
Being diagnosed with a disability can be pretty intimidating, especially early on. It will take a while for you to grow familiar with your diagnosis and which treatment methods are most effective for you. In the meantime, it can feel like you’re moving without a roadmap.
However, there are always general health measures you can take which – though they may not impact your disability directly – will generally improve your overall wellness. For example, you should make sure you’re getting all your vitamins and nutrients. Search for low-cost ways to stock up on supplements, such as looking for promo codes.
Another great low-cost (or no-cost) way to stay healthy is to exercise. Find gentle, accessible forms of movement that work for and with your body. It might help to reach out to a physical or occupational therapist to see what exercises will be safe and effective for you. Diet changes may help as well, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new diet, exercise, or supplement. Some changes are more effective for managing certain disabilities, and they can help get you off to a good start.
Consider Seeing a Therapist
There’s a lot of emotional and psychological work that goes hand in hand with a disability diagnosis, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to do that work alone. It’s perfectly natural to face stress, fear, and even depression due to your diagnosis. You deserve to have a trained professional on your side who can recognize your needs and guide you toward effective coping tools.
To keep things affordable, start by getting a list of therapists who are covered under your insurance plan. Also ask for a breakdown of coverage by type of therapy – some forms are more generously covered than others, depending on your plan. Pick a covered therapist and schedule a few sessions to start.
When you meet your therapist, treat the first session or two as an interview or trial period. Remember: the first or second therapist you see might not be a good fit, and you’re never locked in. Ask them about their experience, especially with people with disabilities, and gauge whether or not you trust and connect with them. You don’t need to be their BFF, but you should feel comfortable having a conversation.
Evaluate Your Spending
Unfortunately, taking care of yourself when you have a disability can be pretty pricey. Moreover, you may need to go without an income for a period of time while you adjust and recover. Disability insurance can help cover those costs and make things more manageable, but many Americans haven’t invested in this safety net.
Take this opportunity to evaluate your budget and take an honest look at your spending. Do you splurge on things you don’t really need or even want? Are you paying for four streaming services but only using one or two? Find ways to cut costs and put more money in your emergency savings – you’ll be glad if you wind up needing it down the road.
A new disability diagnosis brings challenges, but it also brings hope. Knowledge empowers you to make the best decisions for your health and future. Focus on finding the best tools, techniques, and community you need to thrive.