It's OK to Have Teary Days When You Live With Chronic Illness


It’s taken a long, long time to realize this. 34 years, in fact. But I’ve finally realized that when living with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS), chronic pain and mental illness… It is OK to have a day, or week, or month where all you do is cry.

I’m having a teary day today. Hormones are flying around, so I’m extra stretchy and loose. I feel like someone has suddenly removed the bolts from each of my joints. I had a massage on Tuesday, with one of the few therapists I trust with my body, and she told me my shoulder blades have slid round two inches from where she’d expect to find them. She confirmed what I already knew – my body is literally falling apart this week.

I am taking painkillers, but they barely even take the edge off. I’ve also recently acquired a rib that subluxes too. Quite frankly, even just my rib constantly popping is making my eyes water. Not always just with pain, but with emotion. I’m fairly sure most of my fellow hEDS family will know what I’m talking about – when you reach the stage where your body involuntarily cries.

 

Over the years, I’ve shoved this emotional pain away, with busying myself, eating it away and just plain trying to convince myself it’s not there. All of which, in the long-term, increases my pain in one way or another.

I am a positive person. Most people who know me think of me as a positive person. I greet my loved ones with smiles, even when I’m dying inside with pain (emotional or physical). But, quite frankly, the best way to deal with teary days is to let the tears come.

Cry, scream, wail if you have to. Grieve the new subluxing joint. Sob with frustration that this is not the life you wanted.

Depending on how long you’ve held the emotion in, when the tears start, it might be hard for them to stop. Especially if it’s been a week or so, I’d always recommend seeking some advice in case it becomes overwhelming. Talking therapy has done wonders for me. For example, it has taught me that the tears do stop, the feelings never last, that I can always try and find some positive in my teary days – I try to record this to help me on my next teary day. One of the most important things that therapy has taught me is that crying is not me being “negative” – teary days are not only OK, but often needed.

And then, when the tears are over? I re-adjust my crown (or my subluxed joint) and continue – continue to live a life I am proud of.

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Thinkstock photo via Tawatdchai Muelae.

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