Friday, April 1, 2016

A - Anger Management

I spent the first three years of this illness being angry and cranky and negative. You might blame exhaustion or pain, and that would be fair, but what I was really experiencing was grief. To everyone else, my world looked pretty much the same. I was still homeschooling the kids, attending social functions, making dinner, and trying to function as I always had. What was missing? My career, mostly.

Being a nurse was a vital part of how I defined myself. I had a lot of people telling me I’d never amount to anything when I was in high school. There were times when I was homeless, drunk/drugged, beaten, and generally behind my peers in all social aspects. While everyone else was off getting a degree or learning a trade, I was taking a train with a borrowed twenty bucks in my pocket to marry a man I’d never dated with the main goal of escaping the hell of my life. Yes, those were choices I made, but mostly they were corners that I was painted into by the adults in my life. Becoming a nurse was me taking back control of my future. It was me establishing that I would no longer need any other person to keep me safe and secure. I could do it myself, and I could do it well. It was the proudest moment of my young adult life.

The author graduating Nursing School in '97

That was ripped out from under me by this disease, and I was pretty angry about it. Again, something external had waylaid my plans. Again, something beyond my control was dictating my happiness. I could no longer claim independence. Or, so it felt at the time.

There are plenty of disabled people out there who wax poetic about how their illness has made them a better person, or a family member goes on and on about how they never gave up, or some claim they won’t let their disease define them, etc. There are posters and banners and websites and charities and whatever else out there that make you feel that not only do you have a disease that has stolen your functionality, but you are also a loser for being so angry or sad about it.

To put it politely, screw those people. I mean, good for them, but they are not you. I also firmly believe that they didn’t roll out of bed the day after their diagnosis farting rainbows.  I lost friends because they didn’t understand (or care to understand) what I was experiencing and why I might need time to adjust. They just thought I was negative, and they were right. I was, but that’s okay. It was a healthy, normal reaction to my situation.

I have three suggestions for getting through this phase:

1. Be patient with your support team. Instead of saying to them, “I’m sorry I can’t…”, say “Thank you for…”. Find a safe outlet for your anger. Journals, therapy, twitter, whatever. Just remember it isn't the fault of those that love you.

2. If you read my first paragraph, you’ll see that I was still trying to function as before. I gave up my job knowing it was impossible, but I was still trying to pretend everything else was normal. Admitting that I had new limits and needs was a large step in losing some of my anger.

3. Celebrate the small things in a big way. Redefine success. This disease can steal away the feelings of independence and productivity. Acknowledge that and then take back the control. Doing your hair is a success. Sitting outside and letting the sun warm you is a success. Making it to a doctor’s appointment is not only a success, but probably earned you a nap!

Tomorrow, we'll talk beds. Sounds nice, doesn't it?


  1. It is hard to know what to say. I wanted you to know I read your post, I empathize and understand having crappy adults growing up, and to say, "I see you, I hear you, and I'm listening.

    Morgan Dragonwillow
    Dragonwillow Journeys
    Story Dam

  2. Thank you. That means a lot and is appreciated!

  3. When I was diagnosed with Aspergers I felt relived and I could finally allow myself to take breaks before I got too exhausted and I agree about how the measurement of success has changed. I hope you have more good days than bad!

    1. My son has Asperger's. I'm grateful you stopped by to read this and share your experience. I do have more good days now, and I hope the same for you!

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  5. Your post has so many parallels with my life as a caregiver to a child with an invisible, chronic disease (Type 1 diabetes). The loss and grief for what you thought your life and the future for your child would be are real, tangible things that need to be managed as much as the actual care of the disease. Your post has also made me realize that I could write my own blog just from the thoughts it's triggered. Thank-you for sharing!

    1. love and hugs to you and your family, Jen. I know how hard it can be in the day to day grind of managing and "looking like" you're managing. You are amazing, and I'd totally read your blog!

    2. If only I had the time and energy for a blog. maybe someday soon... changes are a coming. We need to talk.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this and being so honest about your journey. Anger is a HUGE part of grieving, and it took me a long time to figure that out. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Akilah @ The Englishist

    1. Thank you. I'm hoping that by sharing, I can make the road a little less bumpy for someone else out there.

  7. I understand what you are saying. Right up to before I was diagnosed with cancer, and even after, my boyfriend would often say "I didn't sign up for this" when he was frustrated with my health. I had to gently remind him that I had not signed up for it either, and we were either in this journey together or he could hit the road. He's still here.

    Twitter: @KnottyMarie
    Literary Gold
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

  8. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting such an emotionally raw and charged "A" entry. You mentioned you were a writer and thought I may happen upon some fluffy prose.

    Nooooooope! :p

    I had to look up this chronic illness, because I was (and still am) relatively ignorant about it (knowing it can be linked to diabetes scares me some being I don't really manage mine well), but I understand the social/interpersonal relationship complications that came about because of it.

    I probably relate most to hopping on a train to marry someone you never dated. Minus the marriage, plus a plane and/or a car... I did some weird crazy internet dating shit when I was younger >.>

    Anyhow, I feel it's okay to be angry and agree it's a natural reaction/emotion most would feel in the situation. How you handle it, though, is the biggest factor. I'm glad over time you've managed your anger in a healthier fashion.

    As for losing friends being unable to handle your situation, that's kind of a toss up, but either they stick around, leave and come back, or stay gone, either way (as much as it may hurt) you are likely better off without the ones who stay away for good. But honestly, there are so many factors to consider.

    Hmm Beds sound lovely. Warm. Cuddly. Buuuuuuuut I'm beginning to suspect there won't be any cuddles involved >.< lol


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