Grief can be a funny thing. They talk about how it happens in 5 stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. The truth is we will never finish grieving. I mean, how can you genuinely stop mourning the loss of a loved one, or in my case, the loss of the girl I grew up knowing myself?
One day I am a recent college graduate visiting family out of town. I had the world in the palm of my hand. The next thing I know, my head hit the window and life as I knew it was over. The truth of the matter is at that moment in time; I had no clue that I would never be the same. That didn’t come for another four months.
From that day on, I felt sick. I looked healthy on the outside, but it felt like I was crumbling on the inside. Every little thing made me want to cry or scream. It didn’t help that Doctors were telling me I was depressed and not giving it a second thought.
Wouldn’t you probably be in denial about something being wrong when the “experts” were telling you were okay?
At this point in my life, I had no idea about invisible illness, chronic pain, head injuries, and everything I was going through at that point. I finally decided not to worry anymore and to live my life.
Pre- Grief Stages
Once I made up my mind that I was okay and just had to continue to go to the chiropractor, I went looking for jobs. My goal was Event Planning, and because of circumstances, I ended up having a family friend who knew someone. I spoke with them on the phone, and we made a date for me to come to the office for an interview.
The address sounded familiar and funny enough; it was because she worked out of her house in my neighborhood.
The interview went well, and I accepted a part-time position as they had just hired them full time. I was so excited. I thought maybe my life was turning around.
I started work the following week, and I loved it. I learned so much from my boss and her team. I even helped with set-ups and just ignored the pain. A month in, she wasn’t happy with the girl she hired full time and let me try out the position. I was thrown in without much guidance as it was our busy season. It was much harder than I ever realized.
I started to notice it was becoming more challenging to do simple tasks, and easy tasks took me so long. I would get yelled because of the frustration. I was beyond frustrated. My head symptoms ended up getting worse, and I knew it was time for me to go back to the Doctor.
Grief Stage 1: Denial
I feel like this stage had gone on pretty much from the beginning as I kept working and ignoring the signs. I continued to try and take my mind off of the situation.
Denial can be a tricky son of a bitch with how fast you can maneuver in and out of it. Still, to this day, I think part of me is still in denial of how bad it is.
I would see people worse off and feel like I should be thankful I am not worse. The truth is everyone’s situation is different, and no one should judge who is worse or who is better.
Maybe I looked healthy on the outside, but I was suffering 24/7 with no end in sight.
Related: My Full Story
Stage 2: Anger
Anger can sometimes feel good when you are going through something because it gets you to want to fight. I started to become angry from all the time I had been home. Most days, I struggled to go to the bathroom.
I was angry at seeing my friends and people I knew traveling, buying homes, and being able to work. Sure, I was happy for them, but I was jealous because I had to sit on the sidelines and watch
I started to sit back and realize that they had problems too, and maybe it wasn’t physical, or painful, but it was their problems. I felt like I was the person who would say to me, “at least you can walk, or this person is going through this.” I knew it wasn’t right, and at least I was smart enough to know not to say it out loud to them.
The anger slowly started to go into the next stage of grief: bargaining.
Related: A Letter to My Doctor
Grief Stage 3: Bargaining
I kept thinking what if I would have shown signs the night of the accident? What if I didn’t listen to the paramedics that night and went to the hospital? Or even what if I went the next day?
These questions would always run through my head, and to be quite honest, they still do. The more I asked these questions, the worse off I became as I would go back and forth with being angry and depressed until I was in full depression.
Stage 4: Depression
Depression can be one of the hardest places to be. Some days it feels like why me. Somedays you don’t even want to get up. Everyone goes through it differently.
The more depressed I was, the more my body hurt, but at the same time, the more my body hurt, the more depressed I was.
Physical and emotional pain go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can have each of them separately, but when they are together, it’s potent.
I am not sure depression ever goes away, and if it does, it sneaks back in pretty quickly
Related: It’s Okay to Be Down
Grief Stage 5: Acceptance
I am not sure I will ever fully accept my illness. Central Pain Syndrome is very uncertain, and you never know where or when it is going to hit. Many times it ends up setting me back to anger or depression