For me knowledge is power! I am a person who seems to need to know information, facts and research for ways in which we behave in which we do. I think this probably comes through my love of learning. Having done my level 2 and 3 in counselling I have found this increasingly so. I have found that I examine my behaviours and thought processes more in depth.
Having being diagnosed with a chronic illness I seemed to be going through what is known as the 5 stages of grief. I then researched this and it is also applied to people with chronic and terminal illnesses. I will try and explain the five stages of grief and how it applies in terms of the five stages of chronic illness and how I am coping or have coped with each stage. For more info specific information on the five stages of grief see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model
Stages relating to Fibro:
Stage 1 DENIAL
Any change or loss in your life can cause denial and being diagnosed with a chronic illness can certainly bring about denial. For some who have been diagnosed it can be that the diagnosis is wrong they must have something else that isn't life long and easier to treat.
I don't think I went through the denial stage as with many fibro sufferers you can suffer for such a long time and be told it's 'all in your head' etc that when you do get a diagnosis you just feel a massive relief. For myself it was as if a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I was being taken seriously and that I wasn't going mad!
Stage 2 ANGER.
Denial is fuelled by anger.Anger that you were the one to get this illness. Anger can be directed inwardly blaming oneself for being affected by the illness. The best way to deal with anger is to find an outlet for it. Anger is normal and can take a while to work through and sometimes a small part of anger can always remain with you.
I do find that I get angry at times. I have been angry at myself for forgetting things or being slower at things than I used to be. I find internet support groups my best outlet for how I feel. I can hide behind the screen and rant in a place where I feel safe and know that they understand my frustrations as they have or are experiencing similar. I don't feel that I was at this stage long sometimes I come in and out of a little rant but then don't we all!
Stage 3 FEAR.
Fear often drives anger. Fear in knowing you can't be cured. Fear is often made worse when you don't know enough about your illness/ condition. The more you know often the more you feel you have some control of it. Fear is the most important stage to work through. Fear can often come back when things get tough, but don't let it take over.
Fear for me was one of the stages I think I started at when I was back and forth at the drs and in the hospital not knowing what was wrong with me. By the time I was given my Fibro diagnosis I already knew I had Fibro and was well read up on it. Sometimes I do find a new or strange symptom can worry me, but I am soon reassured by the groups I am on when I post my worry. I have found that it is better to post your worry than worry about it and bottle it up as the worry can be wiped away very quickly. I do believe knowledge is power!
Stage 4 GRIEF.
This is a very common feeling. This is because chronic illness brings restrictions that others don't have to face. This can be things such as the loss of being able to join in with activities you once enjoyed. Grief can lead to feelings of inadequacy and can lead to withdrawal and isolation. Focussing on activities that you still can do can help to over come this.
Grief this is the stage I seem to keep coming back to. It is my tough stage. I do grieve for what I can no longer do this really bothers me. People with Fibro can often have depression as it is one of the lovely symptoms you get alongside it. Grief can become a stuck stage for a lot of people with Fibro. I think I move out of the stage then move back into it when I realise I have to make another adaptation to how I do things as I can no longer do something like I used to. It can become very frustrating.
Stage 5 ACCEPTANCE.
Managing a long term illness can bring massive emotional upheaval it can also bring an inner strength that comes with overcoming obstacles.
I have accepted I have got Fibromyalgia. I have accepted that it is lifelong and that currently there is no cure for it. I know that there are things that work better for some people than others and I know that I am not affected as badly as some people can be.
I also want to add a couple more stages which I think are relevant which follow on from when you accept that you have Fibro.
Stage 6 ADJUSTMENT.
So you have accepted you have Fibro or a chronic condition and then you have to plan and make adjustments to your life to accommodate your illness.
For me this is about learning to pace. I need to know I can't do everything at 100mph. I need to remember to write things down and ALWAYS check my diary. I have to adjust to make my life easier now I do have the Fibro. I must be sensible.
Stage 7 MANAGEMENT.
This is about managing day to day life with a lifelong condition. I must take my meds, listen to my body when it is telling me to slow down, and look into ways to help myself cope.. This means joining support groups, doing expert patient programmes and Fibro group.
Fibro is unpredictable but I know that with support it won't take over my life, it will be a part of it but I am not Fibro I am a person who happens to have Fibro.