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When My Physical and Mental Pain Collide

What happens when my chronic physical and mental pain collide?


Literally. Nothing.

I am too exhausted to move, everything feels impossible, the simple act of getting up to get myself a cup of tea becomes as mammoth of a task as running a marathon (without training for it). I reach the end of the day and realize the dishes are still on the bench, and the clothes are unfolded, that I did nothing productive. And yet, I don’t even care. I don’t have the energy to care.

Mentally I have become so drained from the incessant ache of my body that my mind starts to throw questions of, “How long can I cope with this?” into the mix of my already weakened psyche. Physically I am so tired that I can’t even be bothered trying to challenge the thoughts in my head that tell me I should be ashamed of myself for laying on the couch or the floor, or the bed, or wherever I managed to find a measure of relief.

On these bad days I wish to close my eyes and never wake up. I pray to sleep until I feel better, but I know most likely my dreams will be marred with pain and anxiety. I’m not suicidal, but I don’t exactly want to live a long life. I feel sad and ashamed that I am not providing for my family the way I want too.

On these days I feel like the worst mother and wife. My children come home from school and their excited babbling makes my head feel like it may explode. They are the ones making me a cup of tea, instead of me fixing them an afternoon snack. My husband comes home from the job he left for at 5:30 a.m., and I’m feeling so sick from trying to ignore the incessant nagging of my pain all day that I don’t even feel like getting up to give him a welcome home hug.

cups of tea
Images by Kat and Steve Smith – KS Photography

Lately my headaches have worsened so I can barely move my head or neck without nauseating pain, my back and shoulders cramp regularly, and my arms and legs go numb usually at the most inconvenient of times. This is what “moderate” degenerative spinal issues, a sensitivity to pain medications, persistent nerve pain, and “tight” muscles look like, to me. There is little that can be done, so I accept it. This is my life, if I could go back nearly three years and stop the accident that caused this physical pain, I would, but I can’t and now there is nothing to do but do the best I can.

cars after accident

This is my life.

Some days are good, I can move freely-ish, I can go out and do things. Some days the physical pain retires to a quiet ache I’m able to be push aside and ignore for a while. On those days I can focus more on my recovery from my depression and anxiety. I cherish those days; they are valuable and rare. But it feels like such a long time since I had one of those days.

I am tired.

No, today I am beyond tired. I am exhausted.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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