12/09/2014 12:44 BST | Updated 12/11/2014 05:59 GMT

Acceptance of 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 fulfilment 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.

We all go through grief during sometime of our lives. Whether it is loosing a close family member, a pet or a diagnosis of terminal illness or a long-term chronic illness. Above I have mentioned some of the stages of grief they include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, acronym 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 and keep giving one's self false hope. What this meant was that I an individual is in such a shock that thy try to shut everything and everyone out of the reality in the hope that everything will be normal. They pretend that it is not real in order to protect them from the harsh truth. However an individual cannot always stay in this stage at some point they start to question about their feelings and the situation.


The good old "why me? It's not fair!" stage people go through this stage as anger surges through one's veins in this stage they tend to lash out their anger at family members. Though they understand why, this shows that denial cannot continue anymore. During this time some may 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. An individual in this can have thoughts such as "IF only we had received medical attention sooner..." or "If only my Doctor believed me..." This sort of a of weak wall of defence 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 an individual is in this stage they tend to block everyone out. They may not pick up phone calls from friends and family and refuse visitors or going anywhere. Sometimes it gets so worse that they may refuse to take their 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 that they are okay but only that they accept their mortality. Individuals can still go through anger, denial, depression and barging- their only human. They may have good days and bad days. Their norms are different before they fell ill to what it is now.

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