The Stages Fibromyalgia Suffers Go Through
by Darla Beamon
Lately I have seen a number of people who have just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Any time that those of us whom have been living with the disease can share the less frightening it will be. Having said that I want to discuss the stages I believe we go through. It is important to interpret the stages loosely, and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is a lot of taking two steps forward and then a step back or stages can come all at once, or occur out of order. So why bother with stage models at all? The reason is that they are a good general guide of what to expect. Those outside of fibromyalgia aren’t going to understand this. They tell us a number of things that we would do if we could. The problem is that what they tell you, i.e. “you need to lose weight, you need to exercise, you need to just get over it and my favorite, and it’s all in your head.” What they don’t understand is that fibromyalgia robs us of the life we once knew, planned, and participated in. After all we still look the same to them and most of us put on our “game” face. The truth is that sadness is a normal response to a normal occurrence. After all, we can’t do some things that we were able to do with ease. So we do what we can, we modify what we do. I used to be able to go shopping all day long. Now I am lucky if I can go for an hour. It is very important that we face this head on and not use other things to make us feel better. Wondering what we did to get this disease is futile; the medical field has just begun to understand it. They have much more to do before we have a clearer understanding ourselves. I believe giving it up to God helps to get through the stages easier. Giving yourself to God (or what you might call your higher power) doesn’t mean you won’t go through the stages, but it will give you some comfort and senses of peace as you do. The second phase is pain and guilt. In this case we already have the pain and most have had it years before being diagnosed. However the pain gets more intense. Let yourself feel it…give yourself permission to lie down and rest. As we try to understand this disease, we feel guilty. If I had only eaten better, exercised more, etc. thoughts come into our mind. We blame ourselves for getting sick. We become frustrated and that eventually turns to anger. We want to know why, why me, or we try bargaining. I’ll do this God if you just make it all go away. This is the stage some stuff their emotions. It is important that you allow yourself to feel whatever you need to help get oneself where we are able to have an enjoyable life. Once we get over the anger our emotions turn to depression, loneliness and a time of reflection. Depression and loneliness come from isolating oneself. After all it is easier than to face the naysayers. Depression can also set in when one reflects on the things you can no longer do. You are still trying to accept the illness. This is a time when we need to be careful as we can feel despair and emptiness…leading into a deeper depression. Just when we think we cannot take it anymore we become to some terms of acceptance. You feel calmer about having to change things in your life. We tend to be less depressed. We haven’t reached a point of happiness yet, but we can begin to see the light. Next is the movement forward, we can think a bit clearer and start tackling life. We decide how we will change your lifestyle, including finances. Finally we go to the stage of acceptance. That does not mean we are all of a sudden the happy little camper…Due to the symptoms we have experienced we cannot go back to before. Some people confuse "acceptance" with "giving up," but acceptance actually is a way of looking at our life and allows us to set reachable goals. So, yes, we will find a way to move forward and create a happy life for our self. When we can say, "I'm not where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be. I'm OK, and I'm on my way!" by Joyce Meyer then we know we have begun to accept this disease and adjust accordingly.
1. 7 Stages of Grief. http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html
2. How Acceptance Can Help With Managing Your Illness
By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com Guide
Updated March 16, 2011