You have just been diagnosed, now what?

Today we are very happy to introduce another new writer to Happy Magazine. Niamh O’Connell is a qualified holistic nutritionist based in Dublin. Niamh believes mental health is paramount and she understands the link between diet and mood, finally having reached a place of inner peace after a decade of self-discovery and talk therapies. Today she’s sharing her advice for how to manage the news of a diagnosis.

You may be still reeling from the conversation you just had at your hospital.

Receiving a diagnosis, even if you knew it was coming, is still a shock to the system, so what can you do to cope?

Firstly, take a deep breath. You are still the same person you were this morning before you got the news. Yes, you have a new level of understanding now, but you are still here, still the same “you” as before.

It is hard to concentrate on the information after the news has been received. Maybe someone was with you, maybe your doctor can put it in writing for you. Either way, getting a few points down on paper can be helpful. The full name of your illness, properly spelled. The details of any further treatment you will require. The details of recommended medications, lifestyle changes, dietary considerations. Jot down whatever you remember and ask about the rest until you are satisfied you understand your diagnosis.

Before you are tempted to fall down the rabbit-hole of internet research, ask your healthcare provider for some resources so you can learn more about this disease. The library can have some good information, just check the date of publication on the book as new research is coming out all the time. Ask also for website recommendations and support groups for sufferers of the disease.

Don’t forget your loved ones. They will be in as much shock as you, they will also need to know the details and how this is going to affect your life. They may benefit from reading the same books as you, or joining a support group, either in real life or online.

Don’t be afraid to tell family, friends and colleagues about your diagnosis if you need to. It will be good for them to be aware you are dealing with an illness and coming to terms with a diagnosis. It will explain if you are distracted or need to miss a trip, or leave an event early. They may confide in you that they are living with a condition too, or that their loved one has the same illness as you. Much comfort can be derived from knowing even one other person in the same boat as you. But please remember that treatment varies greatly from one person to another, so don’t compare your health status to others’.

You may wish to make some dietary or lifestyle changes to support your healing and manage your symptoms. Some medications can have side effects and these can often be managed with simple changes. There are fantastic qualified nutrition and lifestyle coaches who can help you decide how to bring about change in your life without undue stress.

For example you may want to substitute sugar and processed breads in your diet. Learning a new way to cook and prepare food can be very daunting on top of your diagnosis. Your coach can guide you to healthy options and blood sugar balancing meals. Weaning you off sugar and white bread can be done slowly, and you won’t even miss them!

Niamh O’Connell is the Director of The Wellness Clinic, located just off Cork Street in Dublin 8.

In the last 14 years since embarking on a more natural lifestyle Niamh has not used painkillers or antibiotics. She has supported herself through three pregnancies and births with natural medicines and herbal remedies. This includes shrinking an ovarian cyst and avoiding a cystectomy, curing a urinary tract infection, candida, mastitis, toothache, controlling cold sores and she has most recently healed her pelvic organ prolapse with a combination of natural therapies including dietary changes.

If you’d like to find out more about Niamh and how she can help you, please visit her website at

Niamh also runs self-care workshops for women who need to take care of themselves more, details at

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