I recently came upon an article about the Five Stages of Accepting a Chronic Illness and talk about how each one has looked in my life.
1. Denial. They don’t believe the doctors answers or believe that the illness isn’t as bad as the doctor says. With my chronic migraines, I was like this at first. How could I have migraines. I didn’t even have a headache. And I looked endlessly for answers. I still do because some symptoms seem unusual, but maybe I haven’t fully accepted it as the sole problem. As for my IBS, I’ve had it most of my life so it has been easier to accept but every so often I slip back into this stage by saying – this hamburger or all this candy won’t really hurt me. But it always does.
2. Anger. It is often in regards to being a person that has the illness or at themselves for not taking better care of themselves. With IBS I sometimes get angry when I have a flare up. But perhaps this can most be seen in how upset I was when I had to leave my job working in the classroom. I was mad. I had found my calling in life and now i couldn’t do it anymore.
3. Fear. You fear what the illness will do to you. You fear you won’t have a cure. Every day I feel like I won’t be able to live my life again the way that I wanted. Thankfully I have a strong belief that everything happens for a reason. In addition, I have been very sick before and gotten better – a few times. This hope that one day I will wake up feeling good gives me hope even if it’s not going to happen. This for me isn’t denial. i will always have to manage my illnesses but migraines can come and go. IBS can get worse and better. Maybe they’ll go into remission or they’ll find the right med for me or find the underlying problem. One way to alleviate fear is to learn as much as you can about your given illness. Looking back, before I knew I had migraines, I was very anxious and it nearly drove me crazy. I had very unusual symotoms and no headache. It didn’t help to have doctors tell me that it was only anxiety. Thankfully, a neurologist figured it out.
4. Grief. Being ill brings restrictions to life and we can no longer do the things we once loved. This was what I felt later on about my work situation. I did make it back to my job for about two months. Many of my friends had moved on and I realized that things would never be as they had been at work. My heart was broken because the experience I had with my co-workers and students at work had been very special.
5.Acceptance.This comes in finding success in the small triumphs and finding meaning in your illness. I feel like I have accepted that I may only ever be able to work online and I’m okay with that. Maybe it was time for a change. All my friends left the job for a reason and I know that reason and felt it a little too though I know how life passes so quickly that I wanted to cherish and hold it a little longer. I also have found meaning in writing this blog. I am hoping to educate people about living with a chronic illness and offer support to those who have a chronic illness.