About six years ago, a part of me died. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and my world changed.
While I was happy to have a diagnosis, and one that wasn’t life-threatening, I realized that things were never going to be the same. I wish I could say that things were different, but they aren’t.
By definition, a chronic illness is something that you will live with – forever. Mine is manageable and doable, but it never goes away.
Early on I struggled to keep myself positive. I went to therapy. I consulted the pain clinic and made a plan. I journaled. I did yoga. I meditated. But every night, as I got ready for bed, I was reminded of my current state. And it was devastating.
I was always active – both physically and mentally. I found that I could not handle activities that had once come so easy to me, like second nature. My brain had a hard time focusing on reading a book. My body would not cooperate for the types of workouts and sports that I was used to. Even snuggling my kids was difficult at times. I used to cook and clean and work
and play at a high level. I was working towards an active and rewarding life and then BAM — I hit a wall.
One of the ideas I had to come to terms with was the “death” of the old me. I had to mourn who I was and who I thought that I would be. I needed to take time to sit with this and process it like any other death. I went through the stages of grief until I hit acceptance. I spent most of my time in the “bargaining” phase, begging God and the Universe to take it back. I made promises out loud and in my heart to try and “fix” what I was dealing with. I prayed and cried and screamed. I had horrible panic attacks that were both emotionally and physically horrendous and I felt so stricken by fear and denial that I couldn’t move out of the spiral I found myself in.
I was here, in this abyss of self-loathing and denial and misery for over a year. I hid what I could, but it permeated my life. It has forever changed important relationships in my life.
I had to accept the “death” of the old me. And eventually, I did.
But it has come with a price.
I have a new normal, a new vision and version of living. And that has impacted me so much that I have come out on the other side as a very different person. A person that I am not sure everyone loves.
There is something extremely hard to describe that happens when you go through this change, this so-called “death.” If you make it through and you find ways to cope, there is a whole new reality on the other side. It is a rebirth of sorts and you have a new normal. You have a hope and desire for life that fills you.
I still find myself slipping into different stages of grief here and there – if something happens in my life that reminds me of that “old”version, I can be knocked back, but the longer I am away from that initial moment in time when I was heartbroken at my core, the easier I bounce back. Certain situations, discussions, and events can rock me, but they are fewer and farther between, for which I am grateful.
As I move forward in life, I embrace things that make me happy and keep me healthy. I am getting better at saying “no” and finding ways to love my new normal.
While it was a metaphorical death, I am still here. Dreams and plans might have vanished, but I am still here. It is up to me to make the most of every minute and encounter I have in this rebirth. And I hope you can find peace with yours.