Wednesday, May 13, 2015

THE STAGES OF GRIEF - ACCEPTANCE (PART ONE)

THE STAGES OF GRIEF - ACCEPTANCE (PART ONE)


ACCEPTANCE
Trying to be functional in life with all this pain is grueling enough. But, one cannot escape going through the intense emotions from all the losses pain causes.  http://functionallivingwithchronicpain.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-look-at-our-losses.html It also throws the sufferer into the stages of grief as I’ve been posting about: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression to hopefully someday finding acceptance! (Please do a search on this blog for these posts if you have not been following).

Achieving acceptance can lead to a sense of peace and joy in the new “normal” of learning to live with chronic pain every moment of every day. I want others to know it’s worth the fight to finally achieve this thing called “acceptance!”

I (with God's help, as well as my husband, my adult children, friends, therapists and a support group) am working on putting together the shredded pieces of my life caused by the chronic pain to be as functional as I can be in my new "normal” life.  I am finding my way through the maze of all the physical and emotional stress this pain brings into our lives. I have felt it in my heart here and there; small bursts of peace, a light in all the darkness, the hopelessness, anger and other deep dark emotions seem to be fleeting. 
 
Then something will happen, or someone will say something demeaning to me about the pain issues and I find my spirit crushed, grasping to find that peace again.  I still struggle with gripping tightly to what my life use to be! It's just hard to let go! It’s just really hard! It is hard to shed the grief of it all when IT has such a grip on my soul!

However, after four years, I have slowly found moments of peace and joy, taking over my heart. Maybe it is because God's creation is springing forth with Spring finally arriving after a long, cold winter, but I am, at times, feeling renewed and ready to "live" again! It seems to be breaking through. I am seeking things to do, when I am able, to try and bring substance and meaning to my life.

With that being said, I am going to be completely honest! I am truly struggling for words to write about this today. It is not a joyful day; I don’t feel these feelings today. I feel just the opposite actually! I just want to go to bed and ignore the world! I want to escape all this pain and suffering! I just want to cry a bit more and grieve the crap that has happened! I guess it is the perfect time to write about this “acceptance” thing! This is the reality of it all for all of us. It doesn’t just rain down on us like fairy dust! And I am sure, for those of you in the stages of denial, anger and depression have a hard time reading about this, when in reality, your journey hasn't gone as far as mine, or many others, that are ready to find some acceptance in all this loss chronic pain causes; and reading any of this can truly tick a person off! It'd be like someone telling you to deal with it, look at the bright side, etc. Please know I have been there! It takes a long time to get to the point I am at. Please read my other posts on denial, anger and depression!

Even though I am struggling today, I cannot deny all I have been feeling the past few months that maybe, just maybe, I can find some sort of acceptance in all this. It may not be an every minute thing, but at least it is there some of the time! I’ll take that! I guess that is reality of it all! This is not a perfect world and we cannot find perfect peace all the time! This is a part of the messiness of it all!

This ‘acceptance” is the next stage of grief that Elisabeth Kubler Ross talks about.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model  I guess it is an acceptance in knowing it is okay to have bad days mixed in with the good. Just so I don’t allow them to suck me in and smother me!  In my heart I was equating it with being something good, joyful and cheery. When in reality, as I am just learning what it is all about as I am living it, it appears to be more of a peace and understanding of living with all the pain and finding and making the best of it. (Kinda like having horrid carrots in my beloved chicken pot pie. I hate them, so I take them out and eat the good parts. I know, that was goofy)!  I am learning to take what is good and focus on that! Not to let the bad to overtake my soul.

I truly believe Philippians 4:8! Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I will continue to cover this “acceptance” stuff in my next post. For I do have a lot of good things to say about it! I have really been making strides with it! But, as I said, when I sat down to write about this I didn’t realize what a struggle it was going to be today. I almost set it aside until a “good” day. But, in reality, I am glad I had a bad day with my pain and other negative circumstances! It forced me to look at the negative about it all! Whether we like it or not, that is the reality of our new “normal.” But, we do have a choice on what we do with our thoughts! It is a tug of war! How do we win?

Monday, May 11, 2015

THE STAGES OF GRIEF - DEPRESSION

THE STAGES OF GRIEF - DEPRESSION

DEPRESSION
There are many physiological signs of being depressed such as difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, difficulty eating, eating too much, crying, feelings of being extremely sad, and even for some being angry. Having extreme long-lasting painful emotions, numbness, isolating from people and events. Some may feel they would rather die or even become suicidal.

I found in my experience I would just cry my heart out. Alone. All alone. I did not tell anyone. Then finally, after months, I did tell my therapist. He encouraged me to tell my husband. Instead I would get up out of bed just before hubby was due home from work, get dinner going if I could, put on makeup, brush my hair and put on a smile. And my laughter. This became very hard to perform on weekends. It is too hard to try and hide the pain. Exhausting! You know what I'm talking about! I didn't want to tell my husband...but I eventually did. He said he already new. He heard me in the nighttime. I knew that because he would occasionally hold me and wipe my tears away.

But, he didn't know I cried during the day. A lot! Deep grieving, gut wrenching, soul shattering and heartbreaking sobs!  I would just lay there in such horrendous pain! Physical AND emotional! Unless you go through it you can not possibly understand.  I was told I would never be without the physical pain. EVER! It will always be there. For the rest of my life. Sometimes I would look out the window at the clouds floating by and wish God would allow me to just float away with them. I would find peace in that. Just imagining myself floating away... I even had it all planned out what I would do. That scared me!!!

I didn't tell anyone. It was my secret. My answer to escaping it all...But when my therapist asked if I ever thought about it, I was honest. I just whispered, "Yes..." He ask how. He asked if I would do that. Of course, in my heart I knew I never would.  I would never do that to my loved ones. That would be such a selfish thing to do! I could not imagine doing that and causing such horrid pain, grief and quilt for them. That is because many survivors do feel quilt! They wonder what they could have done. That is something that never leaves an others soul! NO! I would never and will never! Please! Don't you make that choice!!

But, I did imagine how peaceful it would be. Many of us living with chronic pain do think about it! Please know if you ever have thoughts of suicide please call the Suicide Hotline and ask for help! Don't do that to yourself or your loved ones! PLEASE ASK FOR HELP! 

There are so many thoughts that go through our minds. The loss of ourselves as we use to be. It is like a death of a part of our soul that once was and will no longer ever be. We grieve our careers, our homes, activities we use to find fun, our relationships, etc. The list is endless. We worry about the bills. We worry about how we will take care of ourselves, our spouses, our kids, etc. The worry list is endless! There are many that depend on us! This stuff just goes around and around in our minds!

Grieving this stuff is a necessary part of working through it all! We can't just push it aside and say, so long, farewell, it was good to know ya and go our happy way! I just doesn't work that way! It takes time! More time than we want! This is a very personal experience. Only you can process it as you need to. Only others that are dealing with it can totally understand all you are going through. However, others can be supportive and a comfort. Allow yourself to go through the stage of grieving. And try to allow others to be there for you! If you are alone, please try to find someone to share with. There are many support groups available. A behavioral therapist can tell you where to find them. Or your doctor. Research on line what is out there for you! You do not have to do this alone! Many behavioral therapists are trained in working with people with chronic pain. Please don't suffer alone! It can help you process all your loss and grief into someday down the road to finding acceptance and peace with all this! It does take time!

I am almost 5 years into losing my job and dealing with all the other losses discussed in the post A LOOK AT OUR LOSSES, http://functionallivingwithchronicpain.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-look-at-our-losses.html I have been traveling along in this maze we are left with, trying to figure it all out. I have not been doing this alone! My faith has had a lot to do with being able to hang on to something stronger than myself. God has lifted me up so many times and given me a peace beyond all understanding. He has given me a purpose in all this to feel worthwhile! My husband and adult children, as well as my sweet grandson have done more than I can ever repay! My therapists I had off and on has helped me when I felt stuck and was not moving forward. And my support group I belong to online has been a HUGE factor in giving me endless words of  kindness, encouragement, love and prayers! They mean so much to me for they have been there to listen when I was down, understanding it all, because they too know EXACTLY what I have been dealing with! They are closer to me than many in my life! Please, don't go this road alone! Ask someone to talk with you, to listen, look around for support!

Eventually, there will be moments of joy that will pop through! You will laugh again! They will sneak up on you! Your heart will begin to feel a bit lighter. You may be surprised to have a sense of happiness that will spring forth!

Friday, May 8, 2015

THE STAGES OF GRIEF - BARGAINING


THE STAGES OF GRIEF - BARGAINING

Trying to be functional in life with all this pain is hard enough. But, one cannot escape going through the added weight of the intense emotions of all the loss this pain also puts the sufferer in. The denial, bargaining, anger and depression, to hopefully someday finding acceptance, is just so hard to deal with! Achieving acceptance can lead to a sense of peace and joy in the new “normal" we have to build for ourselves.

In my last post we looked at denial and anger. Today we will proceed to look at bargaining, the next stage of the Stages of Grief, as taught by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross

BARGAINING
In this stage we look at the behavior and questions, we ask and state, as attempts to change the circumstance or an escape to reason away the losses. Sometimes you will find these go around and around in our minds leaving us frantic! Your thought process and emotions may be ridden with feelings of guilt, statements such as "If only.. ", Or "What if...? " Some may even try and bargain to change things. Often people will find themselves praying, "Dear God, I will do this…, if you'll do that…," or asking a doctor if they do this or that if, it will make things better. We may also find ourselves going from place to place seeking answers from many health care professionals.

I thought that if I did every single thing the doctors and other health care professionals wanted me to do that I would find relief for my pain. In my personal story I shared in the first part of The Stages of Grief with Our Losses, http://functionallivingwithchronicpain.blogspot.com/2015/04/stages-of-grief-with-our-losses-of.html I shared how I went from doctor to doctor and tried all kinds of treatments to find something that would work. I pushed myself through all the pain at physical therapy, as well as at home, to get back the strength and what I needed to be able to get better and go back to work!  I always had hoped that the NEXT thing would be the one that would work! But, mixed in with that hope with each new treatment or medication was always a fear of what would happen. And then after yet another failure of whatever I attempted I would become angry and depressed. Does that all sound familiar to you? We do all we can to get our “old” self’s back!
  
I would wonder if I had a different doctor if they would know something better than the last doctor. I would wonder if maybe I tried some particular treatment I read about if that would work. Or maybe even if I had sought treatment sooner instead of trying to fight through my pain, like I did, if that would have prevented the nerve damage that lead to the constant pain I now endure every single moment of every single day.
In the bargaining stage these are all normal thoughts and reactions to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability of having to put your life in others hands and not having much control! I do know that in all this I DID take control in seeking ALL I could to find someone that could help me get better! As well as researching and doing every possible thing I could to push through the pain to make it go away! I was just causing my self more physical pain by irritating the damaged nerves and all the other diagnoses I have. And, in the end it led to the same conclusion by each specialist, "I am very sorry, but you will have to learn to live with this pain for the rest of your life!" I have been so use to hearing it that I felt sorry for the doctors because they had a real hard time saying it, they were so compassionate and I would try to comfort them.

In hindsight, I just didn't want to hear it again. I wanted to shut it out and became a "comforter" as I tend to be. I'd say, "That's okay, I understand. You did all you could. I appreciated it! I have heard it before!" Another time I even asked the specialist if he would consider an amputation. Considering the nerve damage is near the top of my spine that was rather incomprehensible to him (that's the joker in me)! The look on his face was priceless! Then he realized I was really joking. 

But, as I write this now, remembering all these experiences, I weep....for my heart is broken. This is the reality for many of us. This is not what we want. This brings too many losses to bear! I don’t need to restate what those losses are. You get it! We all have the same questions, do the searching and push ourselves! And many of us find it leads to what many may consider a failure of our own minds and bodies. But, it is not! Please don't do that to yourself! If you have done all you can to find an answer and pushed to get better, you in good conscience, KNOW you did all you can do! If you don't feel you have, well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting another opinion!

Sadly, this will leave many of us in a depression. If you are having a hard time motivation in doing things during the day, trouble sleeping, angry, finding yourself crying often, or having of feelings of hopelessness and deep dark sadness please seek help from someone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Professionals can help you find your way through these hard times! Please don't struggle alone! There are many skilled behavioral therapists in your area. Call someone to help! You don't have to do it alone!

And please, if you have thoughts of harming yourself please call the Suicide Lifeline!

In my next blog we will take a look at depression which is the next stage of grief. But, do know that is not where the stages of grief end! Acceptance is the last and final stage that we will look at after that!

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