Chronic illness is a complex beast that comes with a myriad of complex emotions, much like the 5 stages of Grief.
In a way you are grieving, grieving the person you once were, the things you used to be able to do, the energy you no longer have and like a rollercoaster you bounce between the stages of grief up and down, and round and round, trying to come to terms with your illness and your limitations.
For most of us with chronic illness, we all go through denial, when the symptoms start showing up we ignore them, push them down, keep on pushing through not wanting to accept that there is something wrong.. We refuse to listen to our bodies communicating with us that we need to rest or slow down and that something we are doing needs to change.
We refuse to accept that we are responsible for our illness in some way and that it will require lifestyle changes to get well. We use stimulants and medications to get through and try prove to ourselves that we are just fine and carry on as normal.
Then comes anger, anger that we can't do the things we used to be able to do and that we no longer have the energy. We are angry that this horrible thing happened to us as we know we don't deserve it. Anger can consume us, we feel hard done by and victimised by our illness. Although its a necessary step, as they say the only way out is through, anger is one of the most self sabotaging stages of grief.
Anger keeps us from moving forward and activates our 'fight or flight' response, putting our body in a stressed state, keeping our cortisol levels out of balance and it only fuels our illness. The faster you can move through this stage the better. It takes time and practice but its worth trying to master this stage if you can.
I love the bargaining stage and I am a MASTER of it, much to my own detriment. Ok so if I just rest for a week and eat healthy ill be fine, ill have a relaxing bath, a massage, a few cups of de-tox tea and ill be ok, ready for the following week. Umm hello it took years to get chronically ill, you can't fix it in a week!
You want to go out with your friends but deep down you know that your health is not up to it and the right thing to do would be to stay home and look after yourself, but you bargain with yourself to 'be really good' in the lead up, rest all day until you need to go out and only have one drink when you are out and then you will rest all day the next day, its all good.
You go out like the good old days, have a couple of champagnes, dance a little, the adrenaline kicks in and masks your symptoms for a while, you have a great time, yay life is good again, I'm cured! The next day comes and you are paying dearly for your night out with the girls, you can barely get out of bed, your whole body aches and your are right back at Anger, why me, this is not fair, I just wanted ONE night out with my friends, I hate you god, I hate you world!
Depression is so common in those suffering with chronic illness, you feel helpless, unworthy, useless and no matter how hard you try sometimes you just don't feel any better. You feel isolated as no one understands what you are going through, 'You don't look sick' friends and family will say, 'You seemed fine on the girls night out' which makes you feel even worse like you are lying to them or even worse you are freaking Kray Kray and making it all up in your head.
Its very common to question your sanity with an invisible chronic illness like Adrenal Fatigue/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, with no support or understanding, its normal to feel depressed, anxious and helpless like there is no light at the end of the tunnel
You can spend long periods of time bouncing between anger, bargaining and depression, not necessarily in order.
This is the most healing of stages, it is unfortunate that you need to go through the grieving process to get to acceptance, however the good news is that as you learn and grow you can manage each of the stages more effectively and move through them more quickly.
I always say the key to vibrant health and energy is self love and acceptance. By acceptance I don't mean to throw your hands up in the air and 'give up', you still need to turn on your power and fight for your health. It means accepting that you have an illness (for now) that you have limitations and understanding that your body needs to heal.
Acceptance means listening to your body and nourishing yourself in order to heal. The time for each person to heal varies, but its important to give yourself the time that you need, and love yourself unconditionally, even when your body won't do want you want it to and when you are at your worst. It may also mean that you have to accept that some things you may never get back and that some lifestyle and behavioural changes may need to be permanent for longterm health.
I called the process 'breaking up with my old self' I had to let go of a lot of things in my life that were no longer serving me, including unhealthy lifestyle habits, behaviour patterns, as well as toxic people, I had to the grieve the loss of the person I was in order to embrace the new and improved, healthier and happier version of myself.