Grieving Your Old Self When Chronic Illness Turns You Into Someone You Don't Like
I’ve been crying a lot.
I cried this afternoon in frustration. Another doctor appointment, another diagnosis, another problem to fix. One that may not even be fixable.
I cried early this morning, 3 a.m. to be exact. I was woken from a deep sleep, nauseous and in unbelievable pain. All to vomit food I had eaten 31 hours prior.
If you’re feeling low, try answering this question:
I cried yesterday. I had walked into a doctor’s office with three diagnoses. I left with four. Four chronic, incurable conditions that severely impact quality of life.
I cried the day before that, too. That was the day my shower chair arrived. I cried while using it, but was grateful, knowing my risk of passing out was significantly lower.
And the day before that I cried because I knew I would need to use my wheelchair for a family outing.
I’ll probably cry again tomorrow.
I’ll cry when I get my disability placard too.
I see a lot of crying in my future.
And I am OK with that.
Because I am grieving.
I am grieving the loss of the life I thought I would have.
I am grieving who I used to be.
This loss is so profound – how do you grieve for someone who is here but not here? I no longer recognize myself. I don’t know who I am anymore.
And I don’t like who chronic illness is turning me into.
I am turning bitter, trapped in a body that no longer works, betrayed by the one thing I thought I could count on. I am becoming angry and jealous of those who can because I can’t. I am clinging to the ideas of should and would and could because I should get better, I would still be the same if I wasn’t sick, I could be independent before so why can’t I now?
I don’t like this person.
I don’t want to be this person.
But right now I am, and that’s OK.
Because I am still grieving.
I’ll find myself again one day. I won’t be the same self I once was. Maybe I’ll be better, maybe I’ll just be different.
Maybe I’ll still feel those pangs of jealousy, watching other people live the life I had once dreamed of.
Maybe I won’t – maybe I’ll be able to just be happy for them.
Maybe I’ll find a new life to dream about.
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Thinkstock photo via g_muradin.