When you're diagnosed with a chronic illness the doctors don't tell you there is a grieving process. I'm not sure if they even know.
For me it started gradually and then one day it hit me. My life has forever changed. I started to mentally list all of the things I could no longer do such as clean the house in one day or make it through work without sneaking a nap during lunch in my car. It was a frustrating realization.
I stared to feel worthless. I felt I could no longer contribute to my family, to my friends, to society. I slipped into a depression. I thought "This is it. This is my life forever. Pain and exhaustion". We'll it wasn't.
A healthy way to deal with this is to grieve your old self. I realized it's okay to do less. It's okay to say no to people. It's ok to take care of yourself. Once I did this I started to feel better. I actually wrote an Energy Obituary which you can read here.
As I was letting go, my new self started to emerge. I became a better me. I became more patient, more compassionate, more understanding. I didn't set unattainable goals. That in itself made for less disappointment. I embraced the new me.
You would think that the grieving and change would stop there. It doesn't. Something happened to me that I didn't expect. My RA went into remission. Don't get me wrong, that news was incredible. Again though, I needed to change. I needed to grieve this new me.
I thought that because I could do more I would go right back to the me I was in the beginning. So not the case. My perspective had changed. The same things weren't important. If anything my old priorities seemed trivial. I had my life back and I was damn sure going to live it.
This whole post has come about because I am still recovering from getting both knees replaced last year. Once again I had to grieve the active life I was given back. I have to find my place in this world again. Embrace another new me. I am up for it and I am excited.
Remember, what you used to do does not define you. It's how you handle these changes that does. This is something I am actually teaching my daughter. A few days ago, at the age of 13, she was diagnosed with connective tissue disease. She has a long journey ahead of her and will be just fine. Her biggest fan knows just what she’s going through and just what she needs.