Wednesday, August 15, 2012
It almost always starts with some increase in pain, progression in the illness, or new diagnosis. The first thing is denial. You believe or hope that if you just stay still enough for long enough the pain will decrease. You think maybe the new symptom or illness will go away or at least become tolerable.
Days, weeks, or months pass and this stillness doesn't work. The pain gets worse. The illness doesn't fade. That's when the depression sets in. It's a feeling of hopelessness. We cannot 'fix' ourselves. The doctors cannot seem to help us. Now, because of the lessened activity levels, we have made the situation worse because we cannot even do as much as before. The self disappointment, aggravation and depression grabs a hold of us and drags us into a deep dark hole.
Those who climb up out of the depression climb straight up into the next stage, which is anger. We are disappointed in ourselves but instead of the continued hopelessness it turns into fury. We are angry at our bodies. We are angry with our own attitude. We are angry that we allowed ourselves to get so sad and immobile. We are angry that nobody can help us and that we have to live in this way. That anger can turn both inward and outward. When it turns inward we get emotional and withdrawn. When it turns outward we can be snappy, argumentative, and even cruel. Even when we are aware of the anger issues they can be difficult to control.
Just as with each stage this can last for any period of time. Getting through anger is just as difficult as getting through any other stage and often even more difficult because sometimes it actually feels good to be angry. It feels right to be angry.
Eventually you can move past anger. Beyond anger is shame and guilt. You feel shame for the actions you took while in depression and anger. You feel guilt because most times you feel that in some way you have let others down, either because of the other stages or because of your illness itself. Guilt is probably the worst of the stages because this is where you hit a choice. You can make peace with yourself and your illness and move into acceptance, or you can get so caught up in your own guilt that you get drawn back into the whole cycle once more.
Something else we all have to learn to accept is that this often does not last. Though acceptance and peace tends to remain longer than any of the other stages you have experienced, a new challenge inevitably appears and we will go through one or more stages in the cycle once more. The bigger or more painful the challenge, the more stages we will have to fight through.
My last period of peace and acceptance lasted for the better part of 5 years with only minor visitations into anger or disappointment. I was fortunate that my body was co-operative with all the life changes we had gone through. Then, out of nowhere, my body developed a lot of new symptoms and illnesses that I had not been dealing with before. I crashed into the first stage, believing it was only a minor flare. It wasn't. Right now, I'm currently in that very angry stage but I'm aware of it and I hope to climb up out of it as quickly as I can.
Right now I'm so angry. I'm angry that I'm ill. I'm angry that I have so many illnesses in this one tiny little body. I'm angry that I can't live a more normal life. I'm angry that I'm in SO much pain ALL the time. I'm angry that I can't always be the wife that I want to be. I'm angry that I can't go out with a friend and just enjoy the day because of pain and exhaustion. I'm angry that most people cannot understand what I'm going through. I'm angry that the doctors can't help me. I'm angry that I'm angry!
For me, writing helps. It's therapeutic. It's a way to vent and allow myself to say things that I can't seem to express without this many words to back it up. I hope, or maybe I pretend, that my writing will help someone else who is going through this or that it will help another to understand them better. It's my outlet. I think everyone should have some kind of constructive outlet that might help them to get through some of these stages. Arts, crafts, writing, gaming, or whatever helps you to vent and get your emotional pain out.
Posted by Tracy Seekins at 4:44 AM