When I Stopped Fighting Chronic Pain and Began Living
“I just want to feel like I’m not fighting an unwinnable battle for once.”
It is so hard for friends and loved ones to understand and/or grasp the battle you are fighting, because you are battling an illness and this illness is most likely invisible, making that much more difficult for you and your loved ones. The last thing I ever want you to do is feel the need to prove your pain to the people you care about or who are currently in your lives.
After my hair grew back and all my visible scars healed, my true battle with chronic pain began. Brain surgery seemed like a piece of cake compared to having an invisible illness. In the beginning of my journey with chronic pain, people believed me because the memory of brain surgery was still so vivid in their minds. But slowly, as the years went on, some no longer believed me and thought the pain was “all in my head.”
This made me mad, and I went from cycles of proving my pain to cycles of depression to cycles of anger and self-destruction to the worst cycle possible: the cycle that makes you not want to be alive. I did feel my battle with chronic pain was unwinnable, and the world and people I love would be better off without my medical issues, mood swings, depression and self-destructive behavior. I never thought I could beat something that was so much larger than me. Chronic pain has the power that air, wind and angels have: to be invisible. A gift I wish I had as the years went on and on: the ability to disappear.
I spent over a decade fighting an unwinnable battle against chronic pain. I fought it hard. If chronic pain and I were in a boxing ring, the blood and tears would be smeared everywhere so much so that it would look like a scene from “Fight Club.” Viewers would see I was only fighting myself and creating more emotional and physical pain than I needed to. It would take over 10 years of fighting myself (thinking I was fighting chronic pain) to see that with a lot of hard work and acceptance, I could lay down my sword and concede to the disease that I was done fighting and ready to begin living. Fighting is hard and painful! Living in doctor’s offices is draining, depressing and steals our lives from us. I believed that just one more surgery, prescription or acupuncturist could cure my pain and with each failed surgery, procedure and medication, I fought harder and harder, until I had no fight left inside me and found a way to live a life with chronic pain.
I would not say we are close friends, but I know chronic pain better than I know most people and things and it is something that is always with me — I just chose not to focus on the disease. There are a lot of things in our lives we can either choose to focus on or not focus on and chronic pain is the most difficult thing I have ever had to face in my lifetime and continues to be difficult at times, but I no longer fight. Who won? Who cares? Some would say chronic pain because I never did find a cure, and then some would say I won because I found a way to be happy and healthy despite pain. Does it really matter?
You will find your way and your battle will end as well, and one day you will find your peace. However you find that peace is not up to me or any of my business. Please remember that if no one else believes you, I do and I know how hard your battle is. None of you are alone.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.