Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a doctor in Switzerland who discovered that our reaction to bad news follows a particular pattern known as the grief cycle. At first, there is a moment of shock and then you may go into a state of denial. You may feel that the doctors have made a mistake or that they are missing something. You may feel particularly upset to be told there may be a psychological element to the condition and feel strongly that this can’t possibly apply to you. If you get stuck in this denial phase, you will be constantly looking for possible causes, going from doctor to doctor and never feel able to get on with your life.
The next stage is anger. Why me? Why now? What did I do to deserve this? These are of course impossible questions. Nobody knows why. It is perfectly natural to feel angry at the unfairness of it all but it is very important not to let the anger take over. Lashing out at loved ones may make you feel better in the short term but will have unpleasant long term effects.
Next comes bargaining. This may be internal or external. You may think things like “if I just keep pushing myself, I’ll get better” or even “if I ignore it, it will go away”. If you are religious or spiritual you may appeal to a higher power promising to do this or that if only you can be better.
You may then move on to depression when you realise that actually the doctors were right, it is FND and its not going to go away any time soon. It is easy to get stuck in this phase so if you feel that you aren’t able to move forward, do speak to your GP. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to work your way through the depression phase.
Sooner or later, you will realise that you need to start moving forward with your life. It is at this point that you may start looking at what you can do to help yourself and start getting some realistic plans in place.
Finally comes acceptance. This is when you accept and understand your diagnosis and are willing to try different things to help yourself. You start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and begin working towards making your life as good as possible.
For more about the grief cycle visit Changing Minds.