In March 2012 I received my very own Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis. In this post I will share with you the 5 psychological and emotional developmental stages that I went through from denial of my own diagnosis all the way to empowering myself to get healthier, happier and wiser.
After reading this article you will get a roadmap how to overcome the psychological challenge of receiving an autoimmune diagnosis. My wish is that you will gain the insight, motivation and focus to develop from being a Hashimoto´s victim to becoming a self empowered Hashimoto´s patient.
The Illusion of the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis
The concept I will share with you in this paragraph is the most important piece of advice I´d like to give you as a newly diagnosed autoimmune patient.
A diagnosis is not a lasting and solid state. You are not the disease label. The more you identify, label yourself as a hashimoto´s victim and hold on this role the sicker you will become.
A disease like Hashimoto´s arises due to many causes and conditions and once you figure out the root causes for being unwell you might even completely recover again and hence the label of being a Hashimoto´s patient will not be fitting anymore.
Reminding yourself of this fact whenever you are really unwell can make a huge difference to keep going and to find solutions.
Getting your health status changed from “healthy” to “chronically sick”
On a psychological level receiving a diagnosis is a big challenge. First of all, because you are given a label that allopathic doctors and uneducated people perceive as permanent.
You are officially not “healthy” anymore and instead, you have a new status, according to allopathic medicine, of being “chronically sick”. It sucks and does not feel good.
The 5 Stages of Dealing with Your Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis
After you get a diagnosis a very interesting psychological process starts to kick in.
Your conscious mind is trying to make sense of the fact that you are going through a deeply life changing event. Looking back onto my own development I went through 5 distinct psychological developmental stages.
The 5 developmental stages were:
- Full Acceptance
- Self Empowerment
Denial: Refusing the way things are
In this stage you are still rebelling against the fact that your life has to change due to your recent diagnosis. Any lifestyle advice that would greatly benefit your health is only implemented half heartedly. Late nights working and partying, excessive gluten and alcohol consumption all contribute to further flare-ups and tiredness attacks.
You still live your life as if you are totally healthy and you try to keep up with others that don´t have an autoimmune condition. As well you might tell yourself not to be weak and not to take your whole diagnosis so serious.
As a effect your life consists of huge up and downs. Deep inside you hear a nudging voice thouh that is telling you all of this might have to do with your recent Diagnosis of Hashimoto´s! But I´d have to change my life… no way!
What´s the solution? Learning to accept your situation and moving on to consciously understanding cause and effect.
Bitterness: taking your Hashimoto´s Thyroiditis Diagnosis personally
After having understood that you now have the challenge of a chronic health condition on your hands you are not in denial anymore. The most common reaction to this process is that you might develop some bitterness and you take your Hashimoto´s diagnosis personally.
Especially when you compare yourself to others that are healthy you might become jealous or bitter. What you need to do in this situation is to understand that you are going through a unique life experience.
Your own family history, genetics, lifestyle choices and surrounding environments have co-created a decisive life event arising as the Autoimmune condition called Hashimoto´s. Once you understand all the contributing lifestyle factors that tend to make people chronically sick you will take your diagnosis less personally.
You will understand that there are forces at play that make you feel more tired, irritated or weak especially with an autoimmune Disease liek Hashimoto´s. But when you start to look into the cause and effect relationships you will be able learn about these dynamics.
Looking outside of yourself and comparing yourself to others will not serve you. In the long term it will take away your power to take full responsibility for what you can change in your own life.
So, here is how you deal with bitterness in regards to your health: looking inside of yourself to find a deeper understanding of the current situation is the path out of bitterness. And when you start to understand yourself better, bitterness will slowly turn into compassion for yourself and sympathetic joy for others that are well.
That´s the way.
Grieving: finding connection, letting go and understanding your mistakes
Now it´s time for you to grieve about having lost something very precious: your health. Before you can find something again you have to first be aware that you actually have lost it. Going through this psychological process might trigger for a lot of stored sadness to come up. Often you might feel this feeling as a stone sitting in your throat.
This is the best time to acknowledge past behaviors or habits that might have been contributing to your less then ideal level of health and happiness.
You will see how your current state of health is directly influenced by very specific life decisions in the past. You will understand how specific emotional states and mindsets in the past will have contributed to your current level of health.
This step is the definite step out of denial and bitterness towards truly accepting your life situation. And at this stage it is totally Ok to shed some tears – it´s even deeply healing. At this time it is especially helpful to have a spouse who can comfort you.
It will take some time to get well and we will have to let go of parts of our past that don´t serve us anymore so that we can get accustomed to the fact that we will be limited for a while until we get better. After going through this process you might feel more and more connected to who you are than ever before in your life.
Acceptance: becoming wiser and more authentic
Only when you accept a situation truly as it is can you can start to do something about it finally. When you are in total denial about your Hashimotos diagnosis you will subconsciously avoid the whole topic and distract yourself.
When you are bitter about your own health situation you will continually blame others for the difficult circumstances that you are in. You will push a lot of people away.
And finally when you are depressed due to excessive grief you will be totally paralyzed. So when you lack acceptance due to denial, bitterness or grief you have no chance in getting Hashimotos’s into remission.
Learning to accept your hashimotos diagnosis and overcoming denial, bitterness and grief will make you wiser, more authentic and self-connected. To accept that you are in denial or that you are bitter or grieving takes strength to process it. Hence your ability for self reflection and introspection will increase in this stage and you will feel more self confident, hopeful and motivated.
To accept things as they are will create the conditions for you to truly investigate your situation clearly so that you can come up with deep and long lasting solutions to improve your quality of life.
Finally, for acceptance to arise you just have to stop and identify moments of denial, bitterness and grief. Just through looking at these mental habits in mind will slowly transform them into acceptance. From now on you are on the path towards true self empowerment.
Self Empowerment: doing one´s best and taking action
Once you are approaching the fact of having an autoimmune disease with more acceptance, compassion and insight it´s time to take action in regards to creating a highly personalized plan to get your physiology to heal and stop disease progression.
The truth is that any intervention that is based on lifestyle and dietary changes needs a high level of self motivation on your part.
Learning new skills on a daily life like cooking and shopping that are aimed to overcome old habits that made you sick in the first place takes determination, focus, and daily practice. But every time you succeed you are consciously creating a new lifestyle direction that let´s true conditions for healing appear over time.
In this stage the Hashimoto’s diagnosis all of a sudden appears to be a gift that came your way to teach you living life more deeply, authentically and skillfully. The chore of discipline to change your daily habits has turned into a joyful path of healing.
You feel empowered through taking on the Hashimoto´s challenge. You can improve your quality of life and remission becomes more possible then ever before. In what stage are you in right now after your Hashimoto’s Diagnosis? Please leave me a comment below!