Monday, January 23, 2012

I Got Mad

There are many ways to handle chronic illness. One can ignore it, but that usually won't last very long before it takes you down. One can hide away from the world but that is the greatest depression inducer known to man, isolation. One can feel sorry for themselves and cry, and have every right to indulge in a pity party. Still others set out on the great quest of how to learn to accept it. And some simply get so unbelievably angry they can't see straight. Seeing as we are all not the same person we all don't deal with life's wrenches the same way. I probably felt every range of emotion ever known to man before I settled on the one of my choice, anger. And oh man was I pissed! 

I could not work, sleep, have sex, eat, laugh or cry without grave consequence. What I could do was leave my house for about 20 minutes before painfully smacking into that wall and needing to return home. I could also empty the dishwasher, as long as I did nothing else for two hours before or after. So needless to say I was quickly on my way to becoming an in-valid invalid. And that really really really got my goat. So I fought. With everything I had. I worked so hard to accept now, but refused to accept now as forever. I had to stop stressing out and getting upset over what I could not do. I had to accept my limitations. It was hard, and I did marginally well with it. But deep down inside that anger was burning. 

I am one of the lucky ones that responded to treatment for CFS/ME and slowly my functioning returned, at the cost of extreme physical pain. But I would not accept that either. It made me want to slit my wrists, jump off a bridge and stick my head in an oven all at the same time. There was no conceivable way to live the rest of my life like that. So as my walk down the stairs to take the dog out turned into a shuffle down the street, a stumble around the block and an eventual ability to take my dog on an actual walk where he got exercise, I got in touch with this anger I had squashed deep inside as a matter of pure survival. Pure survival had been achieved, now it was time to feel. I lived in San Francisco, which is exorbitantly expensive, and I would stroll through the hills of multimillion dollar homes that started with four bedroom two bath houses and ended in mini-mansions. I could not afford a house like that. I could not afford any house! But something about it, the contrast between poor sick me and affluent rich them, sparked that flame. What was so different between them and me? Why did they get to have that life and I get stuck with mine? For a good year I marched around the neighborhood raging in anger, telling myself they were not any better than me and by golly by gosh if they could have that house, I could too! It is that anger that kept me going. Fighting, searching, never giving up. People approach Fibromyalgia differently. My competitive nature focused not so much on a particular house or a particular neighborhood or a particular anything. It just got me so mad that I did not have one thing money can't buy. Options. 

Thanks for joining,


  1. Dear Leah. WOW- I am connecting on so many levels with what you are saying. I am so grateful I found your website today. When I read today's post it also resonated with me. Just yesterday I realized that in the stages of grief that I have encountered since my diagnosis last summer, I am definitely in the anger stage. I vented yesterday with my husband and blamed everything on Kaiser. I ranted for a good 10 minutes and realized that I am very angry. I don't want to stay in this stage very long. It's bad for my stress and pain. I'm so glad I read your post today. Thank you for your honesty, it's liberating.

  2. Anger of varying degrees sustained me for years as I worked. It helped me get out the door in the morning, and helped me do what needed to be done to raise my child when I got home in the evening.

    But such long standing anger was slowly poisoning my work relationships, my friendships; work was becoming a prison of my own making, and no one really wanted to work with me after a while. Friends just evaporated.

    It was not until I "retired" that I really learned to let go of the anger. I did not need it anymore.

    Oh, I still get angry. But I now recognize it for what it is: a way to force myself to work through the pain and lethargy that comes with fibro in order to do what **must** be done. But I now have the luxury of not having to be sole support, of being able to take a nap when tired, of smelling like BenGay when I hurt. I no longer NEED the motivation of anger.

    Now I can say, "so what if the house is a mess?" I have tomorrow to deal with it. It does NOT have to be done now! And it feels good to let the anger go.