Any chronic condition can trigger feelings of grief and loss in patients who are newly diagnosed, and fibromyalgia is no exception. You may feel a variety of emotions in response to the diagnosis or even towards yourself. It may feel like you’re losing a loved one, because it seems like you have to say goodbye to your old life and self and learn to live as a fibromyalgia patient instead.
The five stages of grief are very relevant for fibromyalgia patients who have been newly diagnosed. The effects fibromyalgia will have on your lifestyle will cause you to feel many of these emotions at some point or another, and you may move back and forth between each stage or skip stages.
Denial: â€œThis isn’t happening!â€
The first stage of grief for many people is denial. You may choose to dispute the fibromyalgia diagnosis out of a desire to maintain your old lifestyle. Other people accept the diagnosis but try to pretend it isn’t going to affect them. You may also feel stunned or numb that this is happening and feel like you can’t quite wrap your head around it.
Anger: â€œThis isn’t fair!â€
You may feel anger towards your doctor, your own body, the diagnosis, or simply life itself. Some people lash out at themselves by changing their eating patterns, trying to work harder than they can, or criticizing themselves for having fibromyalgia. Others lash out at others, which can cause problems in relationships that are important to you.
Bargaining: â€œWhat if I become a better person?â€
Some people think they can cure themselves or want to bargain away the situation. Commonly, this takes the form of negotiating with themselves or a higher power for freedom from fibromyalgia in exchange for becoming a better person or doing something right. It may feel easier to avoid treatment by focusing on doing good things, but it really isn’t in the long run and you may end up moving back into the anger stage when it doesn’t work.
Depression: â€œI don’t care anymore.â€
Giving up on the situation is another perfectly normal stage of grief. Some people fall into this stage after anger or bargaining, and others go straight into depression as their first response to the diagnosis. In any case, you might feel numb or uncaring. It could cause you to stay in bed all morning, lose interest in activities, or withdraw into yourself.
Acceptance: â€œI will move forward.â€
When you have worked through your stages of grief, your eventual goal is to reach the stage of acceptance. When you’re in acceptance, you accept that you have been diagnosed and are ready to move forward with treatment. You may still experience the other grief stages again, but you shouldn’t get stuck in them again.
This grieving process may not move smoothly â€“ you might experience only one stage, or bounce between stages â€œout of orderâ€ (try to remember that there is no specific order for these stages). Make sure you seek pain management for fibromyalgia and leave no stone unturned.Â Even when you grow to accept your situation, you may still feel angry or depressed some days. If you feel like you’re unusually stuck in one stage or can’t handle it yourself, or if you can’t move past depression on your own, talk to a therapist or your doctor to seek help.
Fibromyalgia takes a toll on your body and life, but patients learn to work around it and go on living happy, productive, fulfilling lives. You will get through this, and grieving for some time before you can fearlessly face fibromyalgia is perfectly normal.
Leonardo Dawson has been researching fibromyalgia for 7 years. He enjoys sharing his research through blogging. To know more on pain management for fibromyalgia see this link.