Grieving for Your Old Life Following a Bipolar Disease Diagnosis
I sat on my bedroom floor before the closet and legs tucked up under me and also a big trash bag next to me. I kept a set of black patent leather pumps, heels worn from use. I looked at the tote, already holding a few pairs of heels, then back at the shoes in my own hands, and begun to shout.
People held so many memories for me: standing me confident and tall because I was being sworn in as a probation officer at a courtroom in Alaska, dangling out of my hand as I walked Seattle streets barefoot after having a night out with good friends, helping me to strut upon the stage during a dance performance.
But on this day, instead of slipping them on my feet to get my second adventure, I had been pitching them at a bag destined for goodwill.
Just days before, I had been awarded two investigations: fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Those were added into the list that’s been climbing for several months.
With those words on paper from health, pro made the problem all too real. I could no longer deny that there is something serious happening within my body. I couldn’t slip on my heels and convince myself that maybe this time I wouldn’t be crippled over in pain in less than an hour.
Those shoes that had been important for activities I adored doing together with my healthy body. Being a femme formed a cornerstone of my own identity. It felt like I had been throwing away my future plans and fantasies.
I was frustrated at myself at being upset over something as seemingly insignificant as sneakers. First and foremost, I was angry at my body for putting me in this posture, also — because I saw it at that time — for neglecting me.
It was not the first time I’d been overwhelmed by emotions. And, like I have learned since that moment sitting on my floor four decades before, it definitely wouldn’t be my last.
Over time since getting sick and becoming disabled, I’ve learned that the wide selection of emotions is as much part of my disease because of my physical symptoms — nerve-wracking, stiff bones, aching joints, tendons as well as headaches. These emotions follow the inevitable shifts in and around me while I reside in this chronically ill body.
Once you’ve got a chronic disease, there’s no getting being treated. There is a section of your previous self, your previous body, which has been lost. I was not going to get much better.
Just with grieving was I will slowly re-learn my body, me personally, my life. I would definitely moan, accept, and then move ahead.
Non-linear stages of grief for the Ever-Changing Human Anatomy
But when Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross originally wrote about the stages of despair in her 1969 book”On Death and Dying,” it was actually dependent upon her work with terminally ill patients, together with people whose lifestyles and lifestyles because they knew they’d drastically changed.
Grieving, as Kubler-Ross and several others have stated, is a nonlinear procedure. Alternatively, I think about it because of a continuous spiral.
In any given time together with my body, I don’t know what stage of grieving I’m in, only that I’m in it, grappling with all the feelings which come with this specific body that is ever-changing.
After having some great days it’s very difficult when I relapse back into awful days. I’ll often find myself softly yelling in bed, plagued with self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness, or emailing people to cancel responsibilities, internally crying angry ideas in my body for not doing exactly what I want it to.
I know today what’s going on if this occurs, but at the beginning of my disease, I didn’t realize I had been grieving.
When my kids would like me to select a walk as well as my own body couldn’t even go off the sofa so I would get very mad at myself, even questioning what I’d done to justify those debilitating problems.
Once I was curled up on the ground at two a.m. together with pain shooting down my back, I’d bargain together with my body: I will try out all those supplements my friend indicated, I will eliminate gluten out of my diet plan, I will try exercising… just please, and make the pain stop.
Once I had to offer up major passions such as dance performances, devote some the time from grad school, also leave my occupation, I challenged exactly what was wrong with me that I could no more match even half what I had been.
I had been in denial for quite some time. Once I recognized my body abilities were changing, questions began rising to the top: What did those adjustments in my own body mean for my entire life? For my own career? For my relationships as well as my ability for a companion, a lover, a mom? How did my new limitations change the way I viewed myself, my individuality? Can I femme with my heels? Was I a teacher when I had a classroom, or perhaps a dancer basically couldn’t longer go ahead?
So a number of the things I thought were cornerstones of my identity — my career, my hobbies, my relationships drastically altered and shifted, causing me to wonder who I truly was.
It was merely through lots of private work, with the assistance of counselors, life coaches, friends, family members, and my trusted dairy, that I realized I was grieving. That understanding allowed me to slowly move through the anger and despair and into approval.
Replacing heels together with butterfly sandals and also a sparkly cane
Acceptance does not mean I actually don’t experience the rest of the feelings, or that the process is easier. However, it can mean letting go of the things which I presume my own body should be or do and adopting it instead for what it is currently, brokenness and all.
Acceptance means doing what I need to do in order to look after the fresh human body and the newest ways it moves throughout the world. This means setting aside shame and internalized ableism and buying myself a sparkly purple cane so that I can go on short scales with my child again.
Acceptance means removing all the heels in my closet and instead of buying a couple of adorable flats.
After I first got ill, and I feared I had lost who I had been. But during grieving and approval, I’ve learned these adjustments to our own bodies do not change that we are. They do not change their individuality.
Instead, they give us the chance to understand new techniques to have and express those parts of ourselves.
I am still a teacher. My online classroom fills along with other disabled and sick people want me to create about our bodies.
I am still a priest. My walker also that I move with grace across stages.
I’m still a mommy. A buff. A buddy.
Along with my closet? It’s still high in shoes: maroon lace boots, black ballet slippers, and butterfly vases, all waiting for the second experience.