One of the hardest things we ever have to do is to recognize that, for our diagnosis, acceptance is a choice. Would you agree?
We are in denial for a while; we may even put off going to the doctor to be diagnosed. No one wants to believe that they have a chronic illness. No one wants to think about rearranging their world to accommodate illness. We want our life to go on as normal, and this illness throws a monkey wrench into those plans.
Of course, especially on good days, you might start to think that maybe you don’t really have FMS after all. Maybe it was something else. That way, we can set aside the “chronic” part of our illness. No one wants to just accept that what they have is a lifelong challenge, never to go away. Get better? Always a possibility, but once you have it, well, you have it for life.
As hard as it is for us to accept, it’s particularly difficult for those who love us. Because, let’s face it, your friends and family will find it hard to know what to say and how to continue in this relationship going forward. There are those who will not be able to accept your diagnosis, and will just walk away. Perhaps that’s because they’re no longer on familiar territory and don’t know how to treat you. Perhaps it’s because they are afraid of catching it. Or perhaps they are tired of us canceling plans when we appear to be “OK.”
We need to go through a grieving process, because with our diagnosis, we have experienced a profound loss! We’ve lost who we were, and are expected to just embrace who we are now. Allow yourself the time to grieve.
There are 5 stages of grief:
- Denial: It helps us in the beginning stages of grieving the loss of who we were
- Anger: Allow yourself to feel it; underneath it is pain, it will pass
- Bargaining: Often we bargain with God, if He will only heal us
- Depression: It’s an appropriate response to great loss; it won’t last forever
- Acceptance: It’s not about feeling OK with our diagnosis, it’s about accepting our new “normal”
These are just tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling and experiencing. They are NOT stops on some linear timeline of grief. You will go through them in your own way, at your own pace. You may go through each stage more than once on this journey, but, if you stay the course, you will arrive at acceptance.
Just remember that acceptance IS a choice. Don’t stay stuck in denial.