Ataxia is the type of condition that few prepare for. Rarely does someone know that ataxia may affect their lives, and once it occurs, it can cause a cascade of stress that hurts their quality of life even further. Living with ataxia is difficult, but living with ataxia and profound stress, anxiety, and depression, is even more difficult.
If you find yourself living with ataxia, it’s important to find ways to cope with the disorder, and reduce the anxiety and stress that ataxia causes you. While your doctor will work with you to try to reduce your ataxia, only you can find ways that will successfully limit the impact that ataxia has on your mental health.
There is no perfect strategy, and ideally it’s best to have someone work with you to see what will help reduce your ataxia stress. But consider these following ways to make sure that your ataxia isn’t as impactful.
1. Learn to Talk About It Openly
Holding things in is one of the primary reasons that people create extra stress in their lives. They meet someone new and they worry about what the person will think, how they’ll react, whether they’ll want to talk about it, and so on. Part of coming to terms is simply embracing that ataxia is something that you cannot control, and learning to openly talk to people about it no matter their reactions. This will reduce how much you hold things inside and reduce the anxiety associated with it.
2. Find Ataxia Exercises
Ataxia often causes people to avoid exercise – for good reason, since exercise can be difficult with ataxia. Unfortunately, exercise is also an important part of dealing with stress. Speak with someone about aerobic exercises that you can do with ataxia, so that you can tire out your muscles and heart in a way that will create less anxiety.
3. Join Support Groups/Communities
Those with any chronic condition often find it harder to interact with their close friends. Yet social support is such an important part of living with any chronic condition that distancing yourself from friends often makes it harder to cope. That’s why you should consider joining communities and support groups where you can make friends with others living with similar conditions – people that you can talk openly with, and create friendships that will help you through it.
4. Create Goals
Chronic conditions like ataxia have a tendency to cause you to give up on yourself. You likely had goals and ambitions that you expected yourself to reach, and you feel or felt as though ataxia prevents you from reaching them. It very well might.
But it doesn’t prevent you from still having goals and creating goals, and so creating new goals that you can achieve gives your life back some of that purpose, and should help keep you moving forward without giving up on yourself.
Learning to Live With Ataxia
There is no magic formula for coming to terms with your condition. But there is no such thing as a disorder that prevents you from still living a happy life, provided you learn to accept the condition and see what will allow you to continue to find fulfillment elsewhere. Life may be harder, and committing to a happier life may take more work, but the potential is there and very real – it’s something you should continue to look for until you find it.