Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross developed the five stages of grief and mourning: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance.
I was thinking about these stages recently.
It has been only in the last few years that I have forced myself to change my answer on forms that ask my occupation. I have no problem writing “disabled” but it feels incomplete until I add the magic words “at present”.
30+ years is a long time to hold onto the belief that my pain and disability are merely temporary.
I live in the present. I do not want to think about the past, or at least the past that includes the pain. I cannot tolerate thinking of the future, at least a future that includes the pain.
Denial remains my middle name, but I have not conquered anger either. My thoughts and prayers often include, “Please, take away the pain, tell me what I did and I’ll do better. Let me know what the lesson is and I will learn it. I promise.”
There must be something I can do, and then God, the Universe, Mother Nature, or whatever is behind it all will answer and explain what I need to do. Just an answer is all I need. Then maybe the pain will go away — because I have figured out and met my end of the bargain.
I don’t feel depressed, but anger turned inward equals depression, and I do turn my anger inward.
I know the pain is a result of a birth defect, medical malpractice, and a vascular situation that is no longer apparently fixable. That knowledge does not change the need to make myself the cause of my pain. If I’m the cause, then there can be a cure — and I can be that cure!
It’s idiocy, I know. I am neither, but it is another way to deny the reality.
Coming to acceptance is very hard. I don’t know how one comes to say, “Pain is a part of my life and it will continue to be a part of my life.”
Many of us work very hard just to get through the day, the week, and the year. The fight that is chronic pain takes up so much energy. Conceding that it could be permanent only adds one more level of pain.
Maybe the key is to recognize that acceptance does not negate hope. And the permanence of pain does not have to be the end of hope.
Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.” Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.