How 3 Self-Care Tips Helped Peter Back on His Feet After Losing His Wife to Cancer 6 Months Ago
Feb 5, 2023

Reading time 4 min.

Peter is a 52-year-old retired veteran who lives in a small town outside San Jose, California. He is otherwise a healthy, outgoing guy. His family and friend describe him as an easygoing and lovable person.

Peter received the purple heart award for serving in the first gulf war in the 90s and lived with his wife, who he was married to for over 25 years.

Peter’s faith turned around ten months ago when his wife, Jennifer, was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas.

Jennifer passed before the second-month mark after being diagnosed with the terrible disease, leaving her husband, Peter, with grief, Anger, and despair.

Stress has never been alien to Peter, yet Jennifer’s loss significantly turned her husband’s life around; so that his friends and family couldn’t avoid recognizing the change in Peter’s behavior.

Six months have passed since his wife’s death, yet Peter still feels sad, empty, and hopeless. He continually feels frightened, restless, and tense, associated with intense palpitation.

Peter’s behavior is far from his ordinary before the event. His friends and family can quickly notice his odd behaviors. Those include misconduct like being sarcastic, argumentative, and short-tempered. His grooming is never the same; he does not respond to messages and phone calls as he used to six months ago.

Peter is Suffering from Adjustment Disorder

Peter and everyone encountering unpleasant situations can feel sadness, anger, shock, and denial. The said subjective experiences could vary among individuals based on the type of event and their particular cultural and personal beliefs. Nevertheless, adverse reaction to unpleasant circumstances is always expected yet short lasting.

Once the depressed mood and anxiety last beyond six months and are associated with episodes of misconduct like what we witnessed in Perter’s case, Peter has another problem for doctors, friends, and family to address.

Peter is suffering from the so-called, Adjustment Disorder. His longer-lasting marked behavioral and emotional impairment is the upshot of an “Identifiable Stressor.” That is the loss of his loved one, Jennifer.

One may confuse Adjustment Disorder with a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD) And it may be something to consider in Peter’s case, as he is a retired veteran with a history of combat missions.

However, what sets Adjustment Disorder apart from PTSD are:

  1. Peter did not have a history consistent with PTSD before the loss of his wife.
  2. The signs and symptoms are more subtle relative to PTSD. This means the person with Adjustment Disorder does not have flashbacks and nightmares. Furthermore, contrary to the latter, PTSD events may even start six months after the event.
  3. The stressor for Adjustment Disorder does not necessarily have to be overwhelmingly traumatic as it is with PTSD.
  4. The idea that Peter has been presenting with inappropriate behavioral changes and has impaired his daily functions is enough to raise the flag for close help.***

Treatment for Peter’s Adjustment Disorder Comprises Self-Care and Psychotherapy

It is not unusual for any doctor to start Peter on some form of antidepressant and anxiety-relieving medication. Although medication may be an excellent temporary choice in Peter’s case, it must be prescribed in conjunction with Self-Care aid and Psychotherapy.

A compound approach is often necessary given the higher rate of suicidality among those who suffer from Adjustment Disorder.

Fortunately, Peter did not present with behaviors consistent with suicidal ideation. But, a Self-care regimen regarding optimizing Personal safety, Physical Health, and the creation of Mindfulness are the “three essential elements Peter must receive.”

Peter should seek expert help to ensure personal safety. That also involves friends and family efforts to confirm that support when possible.

Peter’s physical health is at risk even long after the traumatic event.

Healthy eating, regular exercise habits, and avoiding recreational drugs and excessive alcohol are fundamental during the healing process.

Lastly, a mindful approach to self-care reduces stress, anger, and boredom. It helps Peter to get on with experiencing everyday life and reengage in community activities with the support of his peers.

Indeed, people do unorthodox things and even act out of Anger and despair. However, with Mindfulness, community support, and understanding, Peter can heal and move on with his life while remembering the good times he devoured with Jennifer.

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