Welcome back to the “Healthy Life” podcast. Today I want to continue where we left off with our “self talk” discussion. Last time we talked about denial and anger and today we will start with “bargaining”.
“Please God,” you bargain, “I will never be angry again or... I’ll do anything for you if you’ll only heal me.” Bargaining may seem to take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements in our mind. We want our life returned to just what it was; and we want our body restored. We reason internally that if we could just go back in time: find the problem sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the incident from happening…if only, if only, if only. It can become a vicious cycle and guilt then becomes bargaining’s companion.
The “if only’s” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the emotional pain of the stroke. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.
People often think of these “stages” as lasting weeks or months. They forget that these stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one stage and then another. Keep in mind that we do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.
After struggling with bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. We internalize, empty feelings begin to creep in, and grief enters our lives on a much deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. But It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness, or that we’re loosing it. Instead it’s the appropriate response to great loss or change.
It’s at this time we tend to want to withdraw from life. We’re left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on? Why go on at all? Emotional depression after a physical change is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. But wait a minute...
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing.
Let’s be honest here... a stroke is a very depressing situation, and so some sort of depression is a normal and an appropriate response. To not experience some sort of depression after a stroke would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that you’ve suffered a stroke and life will never be quite the same is ....understandably so... depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
It’s important to be particularly aware of this “state” because the prescribing of medications is often a habit of well meaning medical professionals. Many, if not most of these medications affect the body with side effects and prevent or inhibit movement that we want to return. Most antidepressants are prescribed to the patient making them “easier to handle” and in reality for the family to cope and not necessarily for the stroke survivor. These medications often don’t make someone feel better...they make them feel nothing, numb, and compliant.
We finally come to a point where we are willing to tell ourselves we accept the stroke. Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about suffering a stroke. This is about accepting the reality that our body has been affected and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality.
We will never really like this new reality or see it as OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new normal with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our body no longer does all that we want. In resisting this new normal, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before the stroke. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding inner peace and acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. Instead of denying our feelings, we need to listen to our needs; we need to move, we need to change, grow, and evolve.
We need to go beyond that “self talk” and reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We can invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again...
Well that’s all the time we have for today ... I’m excited that we can transition from negative or questionable self talk to living again and acknowledging our needs.... thanks so much for joining me, ...please feel free to leave me a message at stroke.global or on Facebook @stroke.global, I see them all and respond.
It’s been a pleasure sharing today and I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast... we keep it brief so it’s easy to add to your day... we want to thank our sponsor TCM Restoration for helping us provide this venue. Feel free to share this podcast with others, offer your feedback and questions and follow us online on our website stroke.global or on our Facebook page. See you back here tomorrow!