Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Stages Of Grief

When I was discussing my veganification with a one of my twitter friends (@celeryinthecity), she brought to my attention the different stages that she went through.  I hadn't really thought about how this was really going to go.  Specifically, I had no knowledge of any emotional stages.  It made perfectly good sense, I was giving up a significant portion of my life, and so abruptly as well.  There was grief to consider.  I didnt pick the name Crabby at random, there is good reason for that (besides the fact the Cranky and Grumpy Vegan were already taken).  I was a crab, I was total cranky. I looked down on every meal, I pouted, I sulked.  I was a real treat to be around.  But fortunately for my family, I only showed it to them (yeah, fortunately for them).  I could not share that with the outside world.  You can't complain to your friends after you make a change like that.  Especially MY friends.  If they saw any sign of weakness, they would pounce on me and stage a carnivorous intervention.  I'd be at Morton's that night, and a monster rib-eye (bone-in "cowboy", they know it was my fav) would show up on my plate. Hey, I'm just a man, I have needs, I can only take so much before I fall off the wagon.  If anyone new what was really going on with me?, I would be toast.  I had to keep it too myself.

So there was depression, but not just depressed, I was getting a bit manic at times as well.  I read back on one of my blogs where I spent a week in Grand Rapids MI.  I remember finding the restaurant Stella's, and I was elated.  This would be my first real external "vegan experience" for me.  I talked with everyone there, ate and drank myself sick (a good sick, mind you).  The food was awesome, the people were amazing, and the atmosphere was electric.  I was bouncing off the walls....  Then the next morning, I woke up in my hotel, drug myself back at our show, and was snapping carrots, and cursing my coworkers as they ate fried chicken at lunch.  What a night...

At the time I didn't know what was going on.  I was just getting along  day by day, dealing with one meal at a time.  In retrospect, I think I can isolate dome distinct stages,.. but I don't think I followed the classic model.  If I think about it in the classic 7 stages, I have to shoehorn a little, but it would look something like this:  
  • Shock or Disbelief - I would say that since technically my "grief" was completely self induced, this stage was short lived. I was more excited to get this things started, whatever this "thing" really was.
  • Denial - I live my life by this word, so I'm a denial "pro". My biggest denial in this transition has been the magnitude of my decision. Trust me on this one, I'm pretty good at making monumental decisions without thinking them through. 'nuff said
  • Bargaining - I skipped this entirely, or I haven't hit it yet.  I was excited to get this going, so I didn't bother to try and negotiate any deals.  If was doing this over, I may have tried.
  • Guilt - I'm better at dishing this than receiving it, but the only guilt I am feeling about some of the more shameful things I've eaten in my life. I should write a blog about that
  • Anger - I've been good in this department. I would go out on a limb and say that this stage has not only eluded me, but I think I've been much more chill as a result. This could be the calm before the storm (read on).
  • Depression - I'll admit, I've struggled with this quite a bit in my life, but my life has improved dramatically over the last several years.  I went through this stage in the first few months of the change, and it was mostly due to my lack of knowledge on what to do.
  • Acceptance and Hope - Lets not go here yet
    OK, my situation really doesn't match those stages all that well.  I sort of went through my own unique different ones.  Not to say I wont go through a number of other additional ones.  So let me give you my real stages as I have experienced them. (note, results not typical, your mileage may vary)
    • Euphoria - I was excited to no end to start this train rolling.  I didn't think beyond that moment what it meant, I just knew I was Vegan baby.  Suck on that!
    • Reality - Oh shit, I am freaking hungry and there isn't a damn thing I can eat. Thank God the PB&J is vegan, because I'm pretty sure thats what I'm eating the rest of my life.
    • Depression - What the hell did I get myself into? I cant go out anymore, my friends are harassing me. I feel like kinda freakish, and my only road food (Subway) uses veggie patties with eggs. This sucks vegan tofu balls.
    • Bi-Polar - I was in my element, I was high as a kite, enjoying every moment, taking everything in.  Eating, Drinking, Laughing out loud.  I was having a blast. I found places to go, people like me!!! Then I woke up in a hotel room, alone, and craving a Denny's Grand Slam.
    • Superman - I'll give Milwaukee some credit for that, 10 weeks on an expense account, and you'll start buying pretty girls vegan cupcakes too.  That city was enough to make me a vegan hero. @milwaukeevegan was a big part.  She helped me navigate the city, and I did so with reckless abandon.  I was a vegan player in that town.
    • Regrouping - This is my current situation. Travelling to Milwaukee didn't set me back so much, as it gave me an unrealistic view of this life. Its pretty easy when someone is picking up the tab.  Now its up to me again, and how I handle myself at home.  Dealing with real life, day by day

    So here I am entering what will amount to be the next set of phases which I am oh so excited to being to endeavor.  I've gone through a lot of emotions, but I've come back to a more stable relaxed state, that I think is going to carry me for a while.  Emotionally, I would have to say I have stabilized considerably  I gone through a lot of transitions, but I know that even 7 months into this, I'm still only scratching the surface of what this is really all going to be about.

    I have to note that this blog is dedicated to a brief, but profound twitter session I had with @celeryinthecity  She shared with me her stages, which got me to thinking about mine.  This was my inspiration.  Thanks for her eloquence:
    • Meat is kinda gross man. 
    • Soy cheese has less calories. 
    • Let's see if I can be vegan.
    • Whatever, man.
    • I am so sad people eat these beautiful little animals, do they have NO souls? 
    • The present. <3


    1. Crabby,

      Don't feel guilt for things you've eaten in the past. We spend way too much time worrying about what we've done when all we can really control is what we're doing at the moment, and YOU are doing an amazing thing by committing to a vegan lifestyle. It's awesome that you feel stable right now, because that means you've got control over your own decisions! No need to complicate things..well, not just yet, anyway ;)

      When you reach the RAWR, FUCKTARD stage let me know. Those rants are hilarious!

      Celery Face

    2. wowzers, way to put yourself out there! I have had to admit that food ends up being such a big deal in my life and taking the things I enjoyed the most made me a difficult person at times when I wanted to just throw it out the window. Thanks for sharing!

    3. Nice post! Glad Milwaukee showed you a good vegan time--come back anytime! If only I could live on an expense account while I'm here. :-)


    4. I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a other vegans who were supportive when I was first going vegan. It must be hard to go at it without that. But I CAN relate to the loss from when I gave up wheat. It was so hard! For me, what helps some of those feelings with veganism is knowing all the animals I can potentially help or at least not harm. I keep that in the front of my mind all the time.

    5. Love this my crabby friend. I can totally relate, because I get little to no support at home.I love the Superman stage, when you are a vegan player. Awesome. You are doing great!

    6. Hey there, I became vegan earlier this year and I can be quite cranky too! It's quite frustrating when you're hungry and can't find anything acceptable to eat! What keeps me focused is thinking about what keeps me vegan. Besides, animals have blood which smells awful and makes me quite queasy. Every time I crave a steak, I think about what has to happen to the poor cow before she ends up on my plate.

    7. Way to put yourself out there! I went through some similar stages, but I was on such a mission (to help my daughter with her illness), that it made it all a lot easier. Along the way, I kept adding more "reasons" for being Vegan, which has also helped make it a lifetime commitment. My kids see people eating meat now, and they cringe, having been educated on what the poor animals go through in order for people to eat meat.

      There will always be challenging moments, like going out to lunch with friends and I'm sitting there with my garden salad while they're digging in to all my former favorite foods. But, as time goes on, it gets easier and easier.

    8. I didnt really find it odd to say so much about myself, so I didnt realize I was putting myself out there. Guess that is what I normally do. I think my blog for my sake would be pointless if I did anything else. This is my outlet, therapy, and my support, of which all of you are a apart of.

      @ADermos - I always anxiously await your comments, and in this case, this blog was entirely inspired by you. I will indeed share that stage with you

      @Noelle - As I said, I know no other way to write this than by putting it out there. Food is a big part of my life too. This was a profound change

      @bitt - I was thinking about this today, as I was consuming a completely vegan veggie delight from subway. I felt better after I was finished, knowing that it was completely plant based. Granted, I'm hungry now

      @Neven - :) We have a lot in common, dealing with the non vegan child/children. It is difficult explaining this to children, hopefully we both find the right path.

      @teatime - Exactly, I get past the initial craving and think about it from a higher perspective.

      @rebeccaslife - Very similar, you went down a path and started discovering things along they way. This is my story for the mostpart!

    9. Excellent post! I should think about what my stages would be. Celery's are awesomely hilarious, and I can relate to you both. However, everyone goes vegan differently, so my stages would certainly be very different.

    10. Hahahaha! I loooove this! Gave me a good laugh, even though it is all meant in earnest. Thanks for sharing your thought process!