How to Find Your Coping Mechanisms

Let’s just put it all out on the table: depression and anxiety come with having Friedreich’s Ataxia.

The sadness, frustration and angst that you feel is legitimate and is shared with every other FA patient. The mental health aspect can be just as debilitating as all the other major health complications that come along with FA and it can quickly become overwhelming.

The truth is: it’s extremely difficult to handle a mental and physical burden all at once. Ultimately, it comes to finding your own healthy coping mechanisms to help alleviate some of the emotional stress.

Find an activity you enjoy
Although FA takes away your ability to do numerous activities, you can still find something that you’re not only able to do, but that you enjoy doing as well. Reading is great (on those days without brain fog) because it doesn’t require any physical movement and allows your imagination to run wild. Painting or any type of art, listening to music, writing (or typing), physical exercise, hanging out with family or friends or even just going to a scenic or peaceful place can all be new hobbies that you adopt. Find whatever makes you happy inside and give it everything you have! Or at least try it, you never know what you may end up enjoying.

MORE: Three tips for explaining your disease

Talk about your emotions
If you have a child with Friedreich’s, understand that they probably aren’t even aware of what depression and anxiety really means. They may be aware that they feel sad and scared whenever they go out in public or encounter certain situations but they have no clue what all of those emotions are adding up to. Parents: let your kids be sad, let them be scared and let them figure out what they need to feel better when those situations arise. All you can do is be there, listen to their concerns and help guide them back to their healthier hobbies.

Be kinder to yourself
Some people only have to deal with just depression and/or anxiety — which is enough of a battle on its own — and not all the other health complications that FA patients face. Please remember: you are allowed to have bad days and do nothing. But, feel however you want to feel and embrace those emotions. Just make sure you have an interest you can fully indulge in when you feel well enough to do so.

MORE: Why patience is so important when you have FA

Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. 

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