Being told your kidneys have failed and that dialysis is necessary for you to stay alive can have a strong emotional impact on both you and your loved ones. There will be challenges ahead, and some days may be better or worse than others. With support from family, friends, and your treatment team, you’ll find strength to cope and begin to see that there is much more to life than this illness.
Put Off Major Decisions
If possible, try not to make any important long-term decisions in the few months before and after you start treatment. When you’re not feeling well, your thinking may not be as clear as it should be. If you are working, hold off on any decisions about whether or not to continue to work until after you have started treatment and begin to feel more like yourself. If your treatment is interfering with your ability to work, look into taking some time off—whether through vacation or sick time, or if necessary, through medical leave.
Set a Goal for Yourself
Some people find it helpful to set goals for themselves to keep from dwelling on their illness. Setting a goal, even a small one, can give you something positive to focus on. Your goal might be to learn something new or to take a special trip, or anything else that makes you happy. You don’t have to give up what’s important to you just because your kidneys don’t work. You are still you.
Ask for the Help You Need
Family members, close friends, or clergy can help you talk through your feelings and reassure you that you haven’t changed just because your kidneys are not working properly. Their support may be enough to help you get through the dark patches and find your way to a more hopeful place.
Talking about your feelings can go a long way toward helping you and your loved ones better cope with your illness. Your family and friends don’t always know what to say or do to give you the support you need. Being open with them about your feelings will make it easier for them to help and support you in the right way.
If you need more support, the social worker at your dialysis center has been specially trained in counseling. He or she can talk with you about what you’re going through, or refer you to another counseling professional. If you find yourself getting stuck in feelings that affect your outlook, ask for help.
Depression is not uncommon for people with a chronic illness. If you think you are depressed, talk about it with your doctor or social worker. Depression is very treatable.