If you have ever suffered the loss of a loved one then you know the stages of grief are not linear. It isn’t like you can check off a box and say “Anger, check I got that one out of the way. Time to start the Bargaining!” It is more of an ebb and flow, one emotion washes in and over you and may float there for a while until another comes in and carries you away only to return you back to the first emotion for a bit more. Someone once equated it to a tide and that is always how I think of it. With grief, I believe the stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance but it isn’t one right after the other without any specific time constraints. There is no process or schedule, everyone experiences these stages in their own way.
It is much the same when you are coming to terms with a life-altering diagnosis. I read a post on a private Facebook group about a 24-year-old just getting diagnosed yesterday. She said, ” Half wishing I hadn’t bothered saying anything now, at least I would just “be a bit sore sometimes” and not saddled with this.” It really brought back those feelings from almost a year ago.
I remember driving to the doctor and thinking that it was a huge waste of my time because I didn’t feel that bad that day and I knew she was just going to say I needed more exercise and to lose some weight but otherwise I was healthy. When I walked out of the office I was in a bit of a daze. I held pamphlets for a bunch of different diseases I hadn’t heard of before and couldn’t even pronounce. I went right home and googled and WebMD’d the entire night. The past eleven months have been a blur of changes and emotions for me and everyone else in my family and I don’t think we have all really processed it yet. I know I haven’t.
It isn’t all bad though. There are things I can find to be thankful for with this change in my life. I’ve slowed down physically, emotionally and mentally. Physically I didn’t have a choice. My body just stopped moving fast and when I try to make it speed up it screams at me. But there is value in that. I was always rushing here and there before and always trying to move faster. Even during leisure time I was beating myself up because I couldn’t run instead of walk and my bike rides were getting shorter instead of faster. I stopped over scheduling myself and gave myself permission to meander. Even when I am able to walk the dogs, we go slow and they get to do a lot of sniffing just hanging out, less walking from point A to B as fast as we can. I do yoga more instead of torturing myself on the treadmill.
Emotionally I’m working through the stages. Right now I’m letting go of some stuff and it’s hard but it’s also freeing. Kind of like cleaning out the clutter in the basement. I’m allowing myself to let go of the things I can’t control.
Mentally may be the hardest for me. My memory is shot. It might be the medication or it might be the brain fog but I can’t remember names or appointments, or conversations I had 20 minutes ago. The only value I’ve found so far is that I can enjoy movies I’ve already seen and books I’ve already read again. Otherwise, I’m still working on accepting this and finding the good but I’ll get there, it’s all about being flexible and accepting that this is not going to define me it is just another piece of life to work around and through. It’s just an unexpected tunnel to pass through with a little caution and when I come out the other side the scenery might be different but I’ll still be on my way.