Chronic pain and I have been well acquainted for about a decade now. I’m not happy with that at all. I’d like to kick its sorry ass to the curb.
I try my damnedest to put on a brave face, to smile around others; to not allow pain to ruin my life but I’ve been unsuccessful. Sure, in the beginning, it was easy. In the beginning, the pain wasn’t constant and didn’t reverberate throughout my entire body.
I’m writing this not for sympathy but for understanding. So many people don’t understand what it’s like to live with constant debilitating pain. They don’t know what it’s like to not be able to do the simplest of tasks; the tasks you once did when you were younger or before the pain took over your body. They have no idea how difficult life is for a person with chronic pain.
I’m not lazy. I’m in too much pain to do chores like you. I’m not unsociable. I just can’t put on a brave face or a smile and enjoy someone’s company most days. It’s not that I don’t want to see my friends or family, I’m just in too much pain. Pain is exhausting! I do care, more than you will ever know but most days, I get out of bed and do only what I MUST do, like shower, do a load of laundry, or fix something to eat. I only leave the house to do what MUST be done like pick up groceries, go to the doctor or some other appointment. Once a week Dad likes to go out and eat. I go with him because it’s the only thing HE does or WANTS to do these days. He’s not going to be around forever. He’s going to be 83 years old in February. I want him to do the things he likes to do, even if it kills me.
I just can’t be the person I used to be. Pain has changed me. Chronic pain affects your mental health, changes your moods, behaviors, the way you interact with people, and even your personality. People try to help with their sure-fire remedies but they don’t understand. They think you’re not trying to get better or not doing anything to help yourself. You stop socializing. Family retreats because they can’t help you or don’t know what to say. You become more and more isolated, from friends, loved ones…and LIFE. You’re now saddled with not just pain, but loneliness and sadness. You feel unnecessary. Your life is not what you envisioned it to be. You can’t really see a future for yourself.
I hope that if you know someone who suffers from a chronic illness, that you might be a little more understanding of their situation. Offer to help with chores. Let them know they’re necessary and important to you. Understand that they do care about YOU. Make them laugh with a funny story. Help them feel that they matter. Help them to feel less isolated and lonely.
As I mentioned before, I’m not writing this for sympathy. Writing helps me – like meditation might help someone else. I write to convey a message, or just to get things off my chest. Sometimes, I can connect with others in similar situations and maybe offer moral support. I’m thankful for all those people who help or have helped me in the past, be it moral support or something else.