I spend a lot of my time thinking about the good old days. When I could eat and drink what I wanted and having a hangover was as bad as it got. I think about all the times I moaned about the little things and curse myself for being so stupid. All the times I stayed indoors to save money when they were the exact times I should have been out enjoying my freedom. I listen to the things other people think is a big deal and have to resist the urge to punch them in the face. I wish they could see how lucky they are.
In the past four months, I have found myself diagnosed with IC and also single after my eighteen month relationship came to a sudden and abrupt end. So as well as nursing a broken bladder, I also have a broken heart. I think that’s what you call a double whammy. At the moment, it feels like everything is going wrong and I wonder what I got up to in a past life to deserve all this? That bitch karma has hit me big time.
Twelve months ago, I was loving life. I started a new job, bought my flat and had a fantastic boyfriend. Fast forward to now and it’s all gone tits up. I often question, why me?
My moods are all over the place. I’m either happy, angry, sad or crying. I can’t keep up with myself and it’s exhausting. I can be in a room full of loved ones and not want to be there because listening to stories of how great their life is really makes me sad. It’s so horrible to not be happy for people who deserve every ounce of happiness, just because my life has gone downhill. My life isn’t their fault, it’s not even my fault but I can’t help being sad and angry at everything and everyone.
I’ve spent weeks beating myself up about it, telling myself to stop being stupid and pull myself together. I keep saying I should be fine but I’ve finally come to the realisation, it’s okay not to be okay.
My main emotion is sadness and I think I have every right in the world to feel sad. My life has been completely turned upside down and back to front. Everything has changed and none of it for the better. If that makes me sad, it’s just a normal emotion to a shit situation.
I think most people diagnosed with chronic, incurable conditions go through a mourning period. You stand by a graveside and in that coffin is the life you used to have. You are suddenly thrust into this new world that you didn’t ask for, all the while wishing you could turn the clocks back.
They say there are five stages of grief after being diagnosed;
1. Denial – Believing that your illness isn’t real, has been diagnosed by mistake, refusing to take medication or take steps to get better.
2. Anger – Why me? Blaming yourself for the illness, thinking you’ve done something to deserve it or somehow caused it. Getting angry at doctors because they can’t help.
3. Bargaining – Thinking if you could go back in time, you would do x, y and z to stop the illness from starting. I always think I would drink more water, I wouldn’t hold off urinating, I would have spotted the signs earlier, the list is endless.
4. Depression – You realise thinking all the above is useless and get overcome by the feeling that things are never going to get better. Unsurprisingly, depression rates amongst those with chronic illnesses is very high.
5. Acceptance – You reach a point where you accept your new life and get on with it. You realise your life isn’t over and can move forward.
Whilst I haven’t quite reached the acceptance stage, I am flittering between stages 2, 3 and 4. I spent the first couple of months after my diagnosis thinking I would get back to the old me. I am now coming to the realisation that the old me could well be a distant memory.
I would urge you not to do what I’ve done and fight with yourself about not being okay because it’s a pointless battle. Embrace it as being a process you have to work through.
I always try to remember the things in life I have to be grateful for, even if it’s something little. It helps keep things in perspective. I am most grateful that my IC isn’t worse. I have read enough to know how bad it can get and I pray everyday that I never have to experience that. I remain hopeful that I can get to a better place with it and just have to be patient. As for the broken heart? I repeat my mantra that everything happens for a reason, however hard that is to accept right now. At least I can watch what I want on TV and don’t have to share my bed with a six foot two snoring octopus anymore. Every cloud and all that.
When I sit here feeling sorry for myself, looking at everyone else in their happy little lives and being all consumed by jealously, I try to remember it’s a normal response to what I am going through. I can’t imagine anyone would expect me to be any different and if you do, I’m pleased your life has been so perfect you’ve never had to experience anything life changing.
I know I won’t always be in mourning. At some time, I will come to an acceptance and I’ll put away the black clothing and Kleenex. As much as I would like to be in that place right now, I don’t get to make that decision. I do, however, get to make the decision not to let the sadness consume me. I can turn bad into good and little things like this blog help put my time and energy into something positive.
Life is for living and however different that life is from 12 months ago, it’s all I’ve got. I either become a recluse or get out there and do the best I can.
I choose the second option once I get out of the sitting in my pajamas, eating peanut butter and watching Netflix stage. One step at a time eh?!