You have so many questions.
You wonder, why me?
Why now? You ruminate over all the things you did right…staying physically active and eating right or you may blame yourself for your declining health.
What you are experiencing is completely normal.
What you are experiencing may be grief. Grief is not only experienced with the death of a loved one or pet, but is also felt with the loss of a relationship, job, finances, housing, breast, limb, independence, or in this case, being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Grief comes in many forms and is experienced differently with everyone.
Elisabeth Kübler Ross introduced the 5 stages of grief in 1969, in her book On Death and Dying.
- Denial- also a defense mechanism, serves to protect individuals from feeling overwhelmed. This phase helps individuals overcome a loss and handle the stressors associated with the loss. Individuals who disregard medical advice, miss medical appointments or ignore physical symptoms, may be experiencing denial.
- Anger- Individuals who have been diagnosed with a life altering disease often blame others for their failing health, and may express frustration with the medical system or health care provider. Individuals often express, “how unfair it is!”
- Bargaining- (using the patient from part 1) the negotiation phase. “Maybe if I change my diet, I won’t have to start dialysis.” This is known as the hope phase, allows for a temporary escape from reality.
- Depression-individuals are overwhelmed with sadness, may isolate themselves, experience insomnia or hypersomnia, have a poor appetite or indulge in overeating.
- Acceptance- at this stage, you are open to receiving education and information. You have accepted the fact that you must move forward with the medical advice given. This does not mean that the grieving process is over.
The stages of grief are not always linear in nature and you may not experience all 5 stages-remember, grief is individualized.
Working through the grief and loss of the life as you have known it, requires a change of plans. Allow yourself to grieve. You cannot move toward acceptance until you have acknowledged the pain and loss you’re experiencing.
The recommendations listed above are general in nature. Therapy is catered to your specific concerns and issues. If you need additional education and support developing a new plan, give me for a call for a free 15-minute consultation at 424-226-8052.
Angela Bōdy, MSW, LCSW