Fibromyalgia and the five stages of grief


Do you ever feel you’ve read all you can on chronic illness? When you’re diagnosed with a new condition, they say you go through the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We grieve for the life we have lost as we struggle to work out how to navigate a landscape we had never imagined, never mind planned for.

After the initial shock and confusion, we start grieving. We cope in the only way we know how and throughout all five stages, we’re learning skills and testing theories and tweaking routines, all in the hope of perfecting our coping strategies and reaching acceptance.

It’s been seven years since my diagnosis and I’m pretty sure I’ve been through all the pieces of the grief puzzle. But, what I can’t quite work out, is when or if I’ve reached acceptance. To me, acceptance is understanding the condition, recognising the impact and being happy with the way things are, and – thankfully – I reached that place a long time ago.

But I still have days of frustration (anger?) and days of sadness (depression?) and days where I think my diagnosis is wrong and I’m actually fine – or dying (denial?). So perhaps the five stages of grief are less of a structured process and more of a scattered experience – like spinning five plates and dealing with the one that happens to smash first.

I’ve managed to keep this blog going for three years, just by writing about me and my chronic pain journey. If I’d reached acceptance (and stayed there), wouldn’t I have stopped writing? Wouldn’t I have run out of things to say? Sometimes I have. Sometimes I search my brain and my pain and I just have nothing else to add; it’s already been said – if not by me, then by some other blogger. So what’s the point of it? Surely the aim is to accept the condition, tweak the routine and get on with life. Why the need for the running commentary?

Well… I don’t know. Maybe it’s because this is how I’ve reached acceptance. Maybe this is how I keep the plates spinning without the sound of a crash. Or maybe it has nothing to do with my pain, maybe I just can’t keep my mouth shut and this blog gives me an excuse to voice my opinion on anything I fancy.

Does it matter? Probably not. I like doing it and, hopefully, you like reading it. So let’s continue and see where it takes us.