Is it Giving Up or Acceptance?

imagesA couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I haven’t reached the acceptance stage on the ‘grief scale’ so I don’t think I am qualified (am I ever?) to write about the topic of ACCEPTANCE however I read the following post by Jen Reynolds of FibroTV:

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FibrotvartworkI think one of the most difficult issues to deal with when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness is acceptance. For the first couple years I was angry, in denial, and did everything I wanted to and paid big time every time I did.  I was very young (18) when I was diagnosed and I just wanted to do everything my friends were doing. It was almost like I had to prove to them and myself I was not going to change and would even push harder than a healthy person. I was working full-time  taking care of my boyfriend’s 2 kids 3 to 4 days out of the week, keeping up a 3 bedroom house,  and keeping a very hectic social calendar. This is when I started taking a lot of medication to cover up the symptoms of the poor choices I made that affected my health and began to decline rapidly.

There is almost a mourning process when you get diagnosed. On one hand I was happy they figured out what was wrong but on the other, all I wanted was to be normal again. I held on to a lot of anger because I wanted my life back the way it was. I would try to stay busy every second of the day because once I stopped the pain would be unrelenting and I would think about it more if I did not keep busy. I felt that accepting I was ill was giving in or giving up. What I later realized is that acceptance was key to begin my journey to wellness.

Giving up means that you feel hopeless and that nothing that you do can change the situation so you let yourself go. I ended up doing this for about 12 years. At one point I was on 12 medications and went from 97 pounds to almost 200 pounds in a year. I ate what I wanted because I had the attitude that if I was going to be like this for the rest of my life I should at least be able to enjoy what I eat. I did not know that the food I was eating was making me have more pain and more fatigue. I just did not connect food to pain because it made me feel good to eat it!  I ate fast food at least once a day and I loved having a donut for breakfast because it was cheap and fast before I went to work. My breakfast consisted of a donut or two, a Dr Pepper, two Vicodin  and a Soma. No wonder why I felt so bad! Everything I put into my body when I first woke up had 0 nutrition value and was toxic. I was basically in denial about my health and denied any personal responsibility for taking charge of it and taking care of my body. I would tell myself, ”I did not ask to be sick it is not my fault!” It was not my fault I got sick that is true, but it was my fault for treated my body the way I was and I continued to decline health wise because of it!

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

~Lao Tzu

I eventually accepted that I had fibromyalgia and started to work on my health. It was actually very empowering to accept that I had fibromyalgia and that I needed to take care of myself physically/mentally/and spiritually. I felt like I had at least some control of my body again.  I started not “overdoing it.” I dropped the process foods with the exception of going out to eat once a week and I started working on my mind and spirit. Once I started doing these things I started seeing small improvements in my health. At times it was very frustrating because the results were so small and they were slow but every small success adds up! It was much easier popping a pill and having that little relief for a short period of time! I saw quick results that way but I developed rebound pain that was even worse than the fibromyalgia and it just was a vicious cycle for me so I made the very personal decision (with the help of my doctor) to go off the medications. Once I got off all the meds (which took about a year) I could not believe the difference in my pain levels.

No matter how sick you are and what stage you are with your acceptance of your chronic condition there are things you can do to improve your health that will decrease pain and help you live a more full and productive life. For each person it will be different depending on what they have and what the underlying cause is for their condition. There is always an underlying cause of a health condition and unfortunately Western medicine never tries to figure it out and gives medications to cover up symptoms. It is just the way Doctors are trained here. They are trained to diagnose and prescribe medications accordingly. We can see with the rapid increase of chronic illness this is not working.  We are in a Nation that supports sick care – there is no “health” in healthcare right now. It is going to be up to YOU to find the underlying cause. The best way to do that is to look back to when you first became ill and what happened during that time. Good Nutrition is always a positive for the body and will make you feel better. Also many conditions are caused from food intolerance’s to ether wheat, dairy, and chemicals in foods that are not supposed to be in the body. If you do have a intolerance to one of these things it is a good thing because that can be resolved! I highly recommend that everyone get tested for food allergies and intolerance’s because it is such an easy fix. BUT we are not just physical beings, so if there are any unresolved issues from your past that cause unresolved anger and resentment that is something that must be dealt with in order to see your symptoms decrease.

Life is a journey and the choices you make every day affect the quality of your life. No one can make positive changes for you, that is something you have to do for yourself. You may always have some symptoms but you can live well-being chronically ill. It will take some lifestyle changes and change is very hard. Us humans are stubborn and resist change, but without change everything will stay the same. If something is not working move forward to the next thing until you find what works best for you. Don’t give up! Accept and move forward making positive healthy choices for yourself. You deserve it!

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Scary With You is Better Than Scary Without You

Some-one wrote that I was incredibly honest, shamelessly honest. But right now, I’m about to be shamefully honest – I am full of shame for how I am feeling about the topic that I am choosing to write about today.

I have fibromyalgia (you know that) and, before that, I suffered with 3 years of debilitating depression. It has been a VERY long time since I have felt good, alive, normal. I can’t remember what it feels like to fully enjoy life; and I definitely have no idea how to enjoy life as a grown-up.

Before all of this, I worked on a cruise ship so life was just one big party – now, I’m supposed to be an adult with a career in law. And, I don’t know how to be that kind of normal.

So here comes the shameful part: I’m scared of getting better!

I’ve felt bad for so long, and I don’t know who I am without being sick. It’s almost like a screwed-up safety blanket. In the state I’m in now, I don’t need to deal with real life; I can hide away in the darkness of my bedroom; I can put my head in the sand; and pretend that nothing is going on around me.

And I’ve gotten used to sleeping when my body tells me to (not an alarm clock), spending lots of quality time with my Mommy, meeting my whole neighbourhood.

Doesn’t that sound awful?

In between the depression and FM, I had a short period where I think life was normal (although I was already feeling unexplained pain, fatigue and sensitivities) so I might just be afraid that, if I get better, it won’t stay that way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t know what to do when I start feeling better, if I start feeling better. It’s terrifying and I don’t understand that. I should want to get better with my whole heart and, in some ways, I don’t.

During this time, I have found I have very few friends, very few people I can depend upon (although a couple of surprises have popped up) and I’m petrified that I will doubt future relationships forever (whereas, right now, it feels like I won’t even make those relationships).

I’m worried that I won’t be able to continue where I left off with my career – I was already an old first-year lawyer; now I’m an even older first-year lawyer, who may not remember anything she learned during her 6 years of study.

I’m scared that I will never get out of this hole of debt that I have accumulated while being sick – but, if I stay sick, I have an excuse.

I’m frightened that I can’t handle normal life – with work, make-up, driving, washing, cleaning, paying bills, social obligations, continuing professional development…oh, and the list just goes on.

I’ve lost SO MUCH time and I feel VERY sad about that.

What we go through each and every day is horrible, but after so long, it becomes normal… And while it seems ridiculous to be afraid of getting better, it may (probably!) just be a fear of change…It doesn’t seem right to feel this way, but I do.

BUT I really don’t have a choice… I have to try to get well and I’m scared.