Grieving For The Loss Of The Person You Once Knew — While Learning To Be The Person You Have Become - by Catherine Morgan
There comes a time in every fight, where you have to wonder what it is you are fighting for. In the case of chronic illness, I thought I was fighting to take my life back. I thought I was fighting to find a cure for myself. I thought I was fighting for the right combination of medications to help me lead a “normal” life again. I was fighting, fighting, fighting…..until that one day when I realized, I was fighting a losing battle. No matter how much I fought, I was never going to get my life back. No matter how much I fought, I was never going to be “normal” again. I actually even fought myself at this time, to not give-up the fight. I thought that if I admitted failure, I was letting the disease win. But the truth is, that as with most fights, the toll the fight takes on you emotionally is much worse than the fight itself.
I finally realized that by giving-up my fight, what I was really doing was accepting my condition. And by acceptance of my condition, it meant that I was accepting my limitations, and that was very depressing to me. I admit that at this point I fell into a deep depression. My life as I knew it was over. There was no hope that I would ever be able to return to my nursing career, and my feelings of hopelessness about ever being able to support myself financially was all encompassing.
I felt useless to myself, my family, and to the world…I was a person without a purpose. How could I go on? And yes, why me? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Why was life so unfair? I hate to admit it, but there were times like that, times that I just felt sorry for myself. I felt as if I had hit rock bottom, but then the earth would open up to swallow me even further down, each time I thought I couldn’t fall any further, I did. How could I even begin to climb out of my despair? Did I even want to try?
In retrospect, I now can see this time as my grieving period, much like the grieving for the loss of a loved one, I needed to grieve the loss of myself. And as with all grief, you feel you will never get over the pain of your loss. But just as in grief, there comes a time when we have to allow ourselves to move on, to let go of the pain, and to hold on to the happier times. Let me assure you, this was not a brief amount of time by any means. I would say that I still have one foot in this part of the process, even though I feel I am beginning to move on.
I still have days of doubt and hopelessness, that sometimes suck me back into my feelings of grief. But, at least now I can say that I also have times when my awareness and acceptance has become a friend to me. Excepting my limitations allows me to feel empowered to turn my life in a different direction, a direction I may not have seen had it not been for my hitting rock bottom with nowhere else to turn. I am still very afraid that I will fail, I am just more afraid of failing to even try. The one thing I have is my hope, and as long as I never let go of that, I think I will be o.k.
I do have a different kind of hope now than I did in the past. I don’t hope to have my illness go away, I just hope that I can learn to live the best life I possibly can along side of it. I hope for the courage to not allow my illness to push me back into depression, and that if it does, I hope to find the strength to pull myself back out. I hope for my continued understanding that what weakens me, might also be what empowers me. I hope for the ability to allow the lessons I have learned through my own struggles, be a catalyst in helping others who may be in similar situations as I have been. I hope that I will never allow myself to lose hope again.
So, just in case my “lesson” was lost in this commentary…The lesson was “ acceptance “. The sooner someone with a chronic illness can accept their condition, the sooner that person can begin to live the life they were meant to live. This doesn’t happen overnight, you will have to go through the grieving process in your own way, but the sooner you begin your journey to acceptance, the sooner you will get there. And, time does have an eerie way of helping to heal our wounds. ————————————————————————-