I may be putting my foot in my mouth by saying I think I “might” finally be pushing through the “grieving” process of losing my “old self” to Fibromyalgia. I am almost three years into my diagnosis and I never imagined it would be such a long process. I feel I’ve taken my final steps these past few weeks to enter into the last and final stage of the grieving process. Some say there are five steps to the grieving process, some say there are seven, in my honest opinion there are probably more around the range of one hundred and two steps with someone with chronic pain, but for now, I’ll stick to the seven to see how far I’ve come:
1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
For me (and probably a lot of Fibro patients) the “shock” factor wasn’t really there when I was diagnosed. Doctors put patients through such a long mess of tests and procedures before finally reaching the fibromyalgia diagnosis, there isn’t a huge surprise that something is “actually wrong.”
The denial, however, was definitely there. I wasn’t in denial about having a “pain condition.” The “Chronic” part of the condition definitely did not kick in for some time. The thought that this was something that could last “forever” was something I refused to even think about. As the symptoms progressed, the reality of that hit me like a ton of brick…and led me into the next stage:
2. PAIN & GUILT-
This is where I started to realize the I wasn’t the same person I used to be, and I had guilt for not taking better advantage of how my body and mind used to be. How could I let myself get so fat and be so lazy with a perfectly able body?? Why wasn’t I more active when it wasn’t so hard to get up and move without pain and extra fatigue. I should have ridden more roller coasters when I could. I could have slept in a little longer just because I actually “could” sleep. The list goes on and on…and as expected, the guilt and the regret eventually lead to…
3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
Why me? Why me? Angry outbursts at my friends, my family, the cashier at Wal-Mart…whoever got into the path of the Fibro monster.
I want to add here that for me, a lot of this phase was directed at God. I was angry, feeling I was being punished for something I had done wrong. And so I bargained with Him. If I stop doing this, if I live this way, blah blah blah, would He heal me? When He didn’t, I just became more and more angry. This stage lasted a long time for me. I’ve just now accepted why God has given me Fibro, and as my life as continued and changed so much because of it, his reasons become more and more clear. I trust Him.
4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
This is the stage where you really learn who your true supporters are. I know I’m not alone here by saying that when fibro came, friends slowly started to disappear. Some people can’t handle the change, some can’t handle the depression, and in all honestly, some just aren’t as good of friends as you thought they were.
A dear friend told me awhile back that it was time to do a “clean sweep,” so to speak, of who I had surrounding me in my life at that time. Were they helping or supporting? Could they accept the person I am now and let go of the person I used to be? This isn’t an easy thing to do, but after following her advice the loneliness has slowly disappeared because I never question the intent or distrust the people I have surrounding me. Are there as many of them? Nope. Does it matter? Nope.
5. THE UPWARD TURN-
This turn did not come until I stopped being afraid to take control of my life. I’d had enough and it was time to stop rejecting this Fibro and learn to live with it. Which leads us to:
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
Reconstruction is not a strong enough word. Totally re-organizing every aspect of your life seems more accurate. From the time you get up in the morning, what you eat, finding a realistic exercise schedule, learning how to deal with flares, finding tricks to help with fibro fog, etc.
I have done all of those things, but there was one aspect of my daily living that was due for reconstruction…my job.
This is my last week as the Business Office Manager for the nursing home I’ve worked at for the last four years. The job came before the fibro and as I changed with the condition, my desire and feeling of a real “need” for a fresh start became over-whelming.
I start Monday as Gym Manager for the gym where I teach Zumba. I’m excited to have a fresh start, doing something new, and be surrounded by people who already know and support me, know my fibro, and at a place where I enjoy spending my time.
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
I may be a foggy, tired, emotional mess at times, but I am what I am. When I accepted my new job my new boss told me “Just be yourself” and that’s what I’m intending to do. I’m still new to this phase and may have some setbacks, but I’m trying to stay as positive as possible in letting my “old self” go.
I’m Jennifer and I have Fibromyalgia.