If you deal with chronic pain, you know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to explain how this type of pain effects you.
I got to a point some time ago when I decided to look at my pain as my ‘suitcase.’ I carry it around. It’s heavy. I can’t seem to offload it. It’s just on the journey with me (I guess a suitcase is useful on a journey?).
There is a regular level of pain that just comes with me all day, every day. Nothing I can do about it as of now.
Out of nowhere, it will intensify.
It’s hard not to be annoyed, frustrated, scared through this whole process.
I don’t want to make another doctor appointment!! I never get answers anyway. Why keep going there? Does that sound familiar?
Not to mention all the guilt that comes with it. Guilt for being in pain. Guilt for being mad at the pain. Guilt for having to cancel/reschedule. Guilt because someone’s pain is worse. Guilt for talking about it (I had to deal with a lot of guilt even writing this).
It’s all there spinning.
If this all sounds familiar to you, hang in there.
This is what I’ve learned through this part of my journey:
Feel the feels. It’s ok to be mad and frustrated. Thinking we’re a bad person because we’re mad at our pain doesn’t make us feel any better. It serves no purpose. Take the guilt out and just be mad at it (or whatever the feeling is).
Sharing your pain with others is not complaining. Expressing how you are physically feeling to a trusted friend is healing. Emotional pain can accompany physical pain, and sharing how you feel with a listening ear can help with that. You don’t have to apologize for sharing your pain.
Be honest with yourself. Chronic physical pain can be taken with you through your life, but sometimes it is too intense to ‘push’ through and you need to listen to your body. Sometimes that looks like rest. Sometimes that looks like a trip to the doctor. Sometimes that means medicine. It’s OK. Pushing yourself has it’s place. It’s not always the answer. That doesn’t make you weak.
Keep trying. If you’re at a place where you can’t imagine another visit to the doctor, take a deep breath. What do you really want to do? If you were speaking to a loving friend and helping them cope through, you would support what they wanted to do. We don’t ask OURSELVES what we really need to do. Give yourself a moment. Have compassion for yourself. What are the next steps towards your pain? What do you really want to do?
Don’t compare your pain. I know it feels like we shouldn’t talk about our pain since so many people are suffering with terminal or critical illness and pain, but what is the upside in that? When you experience pain, it doesn’t devalue someone else’s. It feels like we shouldn’t be mad at pain unless it’s ‘bigger.’ My friend, your chronic pain is happening. What level would it have to be to be ‘worthy’ of treatment and help? Having compassion for others who suffer seems easier than having compassion for our own pain. Be patient with yourself.
Get coaching. You’re not weak when you ask for help. It’s quite the opposite. Asking for help is strength. Help is available to you. Keeping your emotional health strong through physical pain is the ‘bridge’ to get you over the crazy. Trust me on this. Even if I’m not the coach you choose, make time for yourself.
What do I need to do for my overall wellness today? We can ask that of ourselves. Making the next decision without self-judgment will be a decision with purpose.