Saturday, 6 September 2014

Acceptance in Chronic Illness

Acceptance in Chronic Illness

It is known that acceptance of long-term chronic illness is seen as a substantial problem in patients with chronic illnesses. Absence of acceptance can lead to clinical improvements being delayed considerably. It can also lead to poorer adherence to the current and ongoing medical treatment. They may be branded and judged by others as being in denial.

The term acceptance in human psychology means an individual’s agreement to the realism of a situation (a chronic illness) by identifying a procedure or condition without trying to change it or protesting against something that can not be changed. The term of acceptance is familiar to 'acquiescence', which comes from the Latin word of 'acquiēscere' (to find rest in).

There are different types of acceptance but the one we are going to look at is Self-acceptance this is a person’s contentment, loving and fulfillment with themselves with who they are now. This is known to be extremely essential for good mental health. Self-acceptance is an agreement with an individual’s self of self-understanding to appreciate, authenticate, acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and support who you are at this moment in time.

In the 19 years of my life I have been through a lot of challenges, specifically in the past 4 years. I’m extremely lucky to have had almost a normal life s some people are not that lucky. My whole world fell apart when I woke up one day and started vomiting uncontrollably; at the time I did not take it seriously neither did my Doctor. We all thought it was just a nasty bug that was going around.  Little did I know that I was in for a shock! As time passed I started to get worse. Fast-forward 6 months I came from school and fainted I was then taken to hospital and this became my second home.

I always kept a positive attitude and thought that this too shall pass; that this was just another everyday thing. As days passed in the back of my mind suppressed that this thing that my body had was far bigger than I thought. Yet I kept that though suppressed and denied it everyday of the 5 months I pent in hospital. Here I was a girl who went to school just like any other teenager, played all sorts of sports, helped my mum in anything possible to being bed ridden, never did I think I would need help in going to toilet but I did everything was done in my bed. While my peers, carried on their normal life. I too was once part of that. It is a human thing that we never think of what we have until we loose it. I lost my mobility, my ability to eat, to dress myself even the littlest things such as brushing my hair and teeth.

I was very angry with myself first at taking simple things for granted. I was angry at why I was lying in the same place in pain, agony, covered in tubes one down my nose to my Jej, that I constantly vomited; another from my arm to my heart giving me artificial nutrients keeping me alive yet that could have been the very thing that could have killed me it caused havoc in my body but I needed the nutrients as my weight was dangerously low. I was angry at being poked with needles multiple times through out the day not because it was painful but every needle reminded me of what I had lost.
Days passed theses things continued but I always smiled through it not because I wasn’t angry but because I denied everything that was going on. Doctors and nurses believed I was not in pain because of the fake smiles the laughter’s with my Dad that I put on a show for my dad because he slept in an armchair for 5 months continuously not leaving my side. I had to stay strong for him but inside when he would be asleep I would cry dry tears for the life I had lost. For the life I had now. And the life I could have had or never will have.  Somewhere deep inside I knew I had to come to terms with the fact that my life had gone from being independent to being completely dependent on my parents for everything.

At 15 I had to fight my way to make them believe that all this was not in my head. Who would believe a 15 year old? Especially how the media portrays young women. My Father. But I was never into those things I didn’t read magazines or watched much of TV and I was always trying to be unique and find my own path rather than follow others. Both my father and I fought hard to make them believe that this was not in my head. This was a dark time for us all. My dad had lost his job because he was with me; you can only take a certain time of work before they show you the door. My little brother who was very close with me had problems sleeping at night because I was not home. He would spend the day crying. My mother was pregnant so hospital was not good place for her. All this was a huge emotional roller coaster for us all! I was grieving and denying in secret having bottled up all my feelings after trying the nasal tube for the 10th time that day after constantly vomiting it out that bursted into tears that were rolling down my cheeks uncontrollably; they tasted salty. This was the only thing that I had tasted in a long time. All the emotions I had hidden and bottled up behind a smile exploded. I was grieving. 

We all go through grieve during sometime of our lives. Weather it is loosing a close family member, a pet or in my case my health, a diagnosis of terminal illness or a long-term chronic illness. Above I have mentioned some of the stages of grieve they include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, abbreviated DABDA. This also known as the Kübler-Ross model. To find out more click here.  Every individual is different and will go through theses stages differently for short or long terms, as there is no wrong or right time limit. The idea was established for bereavement and terminal illnesses; it can also be applied to chronic illnesses.


The first stage, a reaction that follows after loss is denial; when the reality is hard to face we deny everything. In my case I always hid my loss behind a smile and denied that this chronic illness will be long-term and that It will not get better. I though that in the coming days it will get better and kept giving myself false hope. What this meant was that I was in such a shock that I tried to shut everything and everyone out of the reality I thought that if I kept smiling everything would be normal. I pretended that that it wasn’t real and tried to protect myself from the truth. However we cannot always stay in this stage at some point we start to question about our feelings and the situation.


The good old “why me? It’s not fair!” stage believe me when I say this I still go through this most of the time anger surges through my veins and when I’m in this stage I tend to lash out my anger at my family members. Though they understand why, this shows that denial cannot continue anymore. During this time I feel guilt at the same time for lashing out but we all go through this at sometime of our lives. Anger can mark itself in distinctive ways. People can be angry with themselves, or with others, or at a higher power, and especially those who are close to them. To those who are dealing with individuals like this should remember to remain detached and nonjudgmental.


This stage compromise of hope that the person somehow feels that they can reverse or undo what has happened to them somehow just to avoid a cause of grief. In this stage those with grief may say things such as “I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if…"
. This is often negotiated with higher power. This is a normal reaction to feeling powerless and vulnerable. I have thought things such as “IF only we had reciveved medical attention sooner…” or  “If only my Doctor believed me…” or sometimes my father would say “If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…” This sort of a of weak wall of defense we put up in front of us to protect us from the painful reality.

The fourth stage is one of the appropriate responses to grieve and loss it is natural to feel sadness, fear, regret and uncertainty; this indicated that the person has began to accept his or her situation and paves the way to acceptance.  We all go through this stage where we feel as though “What’s the point… I’m going to die soon…” or “this will not get better why bother with anything…” individuals feel a void in them. When I’m in this stage I tend to block everyone out. I don’t pick up phone calls from friends and family and refuse visitors or going anywhere. Sometimes it gets so worse that I refuse to take my medication. Depression could be referred to as the dress rehearsal for the 'aftermath'. It is in a way acceptance with emotional attachment.
In this stage a person begins to come to terms with their chronic illness, terminal illness or a death of a loved one and of that of unavoidable future.  "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." This stage is different to each individual. This does not mean I’m okay but only that I accept my mortality. I still go through anger, denial, depression and barging- I’m only human.  I have good days and bad days. On the good days I tend to enjoy myself by doing my favorite hobbies such as reading, photography or going out for a walk. However on the bad days I don’t want to get out of bed, I cry myself to sleep and questions such as “why me?” arises in my head. I lash out at family members or confine myself to my room. Accepting is just like acknowledging a new norm. your norm was different before you fell ill to what it is now.
Acceptance has come to the point form me is that I want to help others in my situation and that’s why I tend to blog about it so that others will find that they are not alone.
Please share and leave a comment so that others can benefit from it too.

"Acceptance - Types Of Acceptance." 8 Apr. 2009. Law Library - American Law and Legal Information.

Kübler-Ross, E. (2005) On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, Simon & Schuster Ltd, ISBN 0-7432-6344-8
Santrock, J.W. (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. New York: McGraw-HillISBN 0-07-338264-7

Shepard, L. A. (1978). Self-acceptance: The evaluative component of the self-concept construct. American Educational Research Journal, 16(2), 139-160.

Telford, K., Kralik, D., & Koch, T. (2006). Acceptance and denial: implications for people adapting to chronic illness: literature review. Journal of advanced nursing55(4), 457-464.

Zalewska, A., Miniszewska, J., Chodkiewicz, J., & Narbutt, J. (2007). Acceptance of chronic illness in psoriasis vulgaris patients. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 21(2), 235-242.

Hafsa :) xxx


  1. I love this so much! I can totally related to everything written here!

  2. I appreciate your article...over 20 yes I've lived in all of these stages but acceptance...I'm motivated to get help on the matter as I continue to try to live as a normal healthy producive person....just can't get there. thank u

  3. It's been 16 years and I still can't accept it


Please leave a comment, your comments are most welcomed! Its the only way we can move forward! x