September 8, 2012
I’m reading an excellent series of books by Steven King called “The Dark Tower.” In the book, the hero refers to the world as he once knew it by saying, “The world has moved on.” Many of my patients refer to the world we now live in in much the same terms.
Once upon a time, there was the great and mighty Motorola. Sixty percent of my patients’ livelihoods were tied to Motorola’s success. Motorola was like Camelot. They had a wellness plan unlike any other! They promised innovation, perfection, and great wealth. Then the world moved on and Motorola became the ghost of Christmas past. Motorola, like many other businesses continue to “move on” leaving in their path personal losses. The latest series of cuts laid to waste many careers.
The legacy of the collapse of US corporations like Motorola can be measured in stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. Today’s article is about anger, the second stage of mourning. Yes, losing a job/career is like losing a loved one and often is followed by classic mourning. The five stages of mourning are:
When dealt with appropriately, loss is ultimately followed by acceptance; and it is acceptance that allows us to move on and make a new life out of the old. When we get stuck in the anger stage, illness sets in. In my book, anger is an illness. Like an illness, anger is contagious, often spreading to other susceptible hosts. Also, like an illness, anger is capable infesting every part of an individual’s life. Like an infectious organism, once identified, anger can be eradicated by instituting appropriate therapies.
Recognition is the first step; counseling and learning about how to deal with loss are the next steps. Many of my patients get bogged down in the anger phase and never find their way out. Others progress to bargaining and depression, only to get bogged down in the depression stage. Believe it or not, it’s better to get bogged down in the depression stage than in anger. From my point of view, depression is not nearly as debilitating as anger.
The real goal is finding acceptance. Today’s youth like to say, “It is what it is. Get over it.” Their advice is wise beyond their years. In fact, “The world has moved on” and will keep doing so. Only by accepting those changes can you be happy and healthy.
My world, the medical world, is in transition. Those who read this column know of my concerns and have openly witnessed my passage through the stages of mourning for what once was. As the last gunslinger in Steven King’s “Dark Tower” series fights to save his world and restore some normalcy, I will do the same. Yes, “It is what it is, get over it,” is the right approach. The question is what we do now that we’ve accepted the situation.
The answer is the same whether you are dealing with the loss of a job/career or with the loss of your profession: we get HEALTHY. Step six in the grieving process should be to get healthy and strong. Whatever your new world looks like, if you are healthy, you are likely to end up happy.