How I Learned to Walk the Tight Rope of Life With Chronic Pain

I’ve found that living with chronic pain is a constant balancing act. Each day I have to monitor how my body is doing so I don’t create flare-ups. I have to check in with myself emotionally so I can keep on an even keel and stay as positive as possible. I have to say no to many things I would like to do so I can say yes to healing.

All of us living with pain have to become masters at this. We have to learn to walk the path in the middle of extremes.


How Much Is Too Much?

I have to learn to pay just the right amount of attention to my pain without becoming its servant or making my entire existence about taking care of it, but also not living in complete denial and trying to numb myself out both physically and emotionally so I don’t feel anything.

I’m learning to live as positively as possible, while not pretending everything is fine (never talking about our pain or expressing it) or going to the other end of the spectrum and becoming someone who lives as a victim awash in powerlessness.

I’m learning to walk the middle path of honoring my emotional self and my feelings about being in pain and how that limits my life. I’m learning that shoving them back down again can just cause more pain later.

Saying Yes, Saying No

I have to find that balance point between the yes and the no, between going too far into a kind of forced positivity and giving up and sliding into depression and hopelessness.

I’m learning to be able to find ways to continue to participate in life while still living within my physical limits, somehow finding a balance between overdoing it and making myself worse or becoming a shut-away.

I have to learn to say no without becoming overly negative. Instead, I’m learning to say it from a place of self-awareness and self-respect. No, I don’t want any more advice, thanks. No, I will not be available today. No, I do not choose that treatment right now.

And I’m learning to say yes to myself. Yes, to taking it slow. Yes, to being alone when I need to. Yes, to help when it’s offered. Yes, to doing things that feel nurturing and healing. Yes, to what I need in the moment, even if it’s an unpopular choice with others.

Becoming a Master of Balance

This is my challenge. It is the challenge of every human to some extent, but for those of us living with pain, it is more sharply highlighted, more immediate and more necessary. It becomes a daily practice, often an hourly practice.

person balancing while walking on a log

In a way, it’s my spiritual path. Becoming more aware of myself and my own needs in balance with those around me and in balance with the demands from my condition.

All of us who live with chronic pain become adept at walking that middle road. We become masters of balance, saying no when it matters and saying yes to ourselves, which matters even more.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Pain

pill bottle pouring out medication onto the table

How the 'War on Opioids' Is Hurting Patients With Chronic Pain

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community. Pain. It seems like this topic should be simple to talk about, but pain is complicated. Pain is so far reaching; I barely knew how to format this [...]
Car on a road trip with suitcases on roof.

My Tips for a Road Trip With Chronic Pain and Disabilities

This weekend I have the privilege to go visit my uncle in Indianapolis. Being sick, I do not get the chance to travel often, especially not on a road trip. I am so excited, but I know it will be a long, hard trip for me. Don’t you hate that feeling — being excited about [...]
woman lying awake in bed at night

Lying Awake at 3:07 AM With Suicidal Thoughts Because of Chronic Pain

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. I’ve lived with debilitating pain for eight years now. I never imagined it would get this horrendously bad. I should be planning on attending university next week. The key word of that sentence: “should.” [...]
A fashionable illustration of a young girl.

A Major Myth About Chronic Pain That Needs to Be Addressed

Hello. I’m Morgan, I’m 16 and I have several chronic illnesses. Today I want to address a major myth about me having it “easier” when I’m experiencing my “normal” pain level. I have chronic pain, stemming from two different illnesses. Pain occurs on a daily basis for me. It has become my “normal,” even though most people [...]