The Emotional Side of Chronic Pain I Never Knew a Person Could Experience
Waking up to face another day in this body that seems to have failed me in so many ways leads to a whole new load of emotions I never even knew a human being could experience.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat on the edge of the bed (after successfully managing to get my spine to let me move or sit up) and thought I was still asleep. In fact, it’s probably more wishing I was still asleep and this whole journey is just some sort of twisted nightmare.
With every morning I wake and realize it’s my reality, all I want to do is cry. My eyes fill with tears which I fight hard to hold back. It then hits my heart like a ton of bricks, and that’s the moment you realize that this is in fact your life. Reality has just slapped you in the face real hard. But this emotional pain has a tight hold over your body. It’s a deep, aching, heart-sinking pain. This life is now what you call existing, trying to make it through a day, and the emotional side effect of that reality is a hard one to come to terms with.
It’s not something that I have noticed has gone away over the last seven years of being chronically ill, but on one hand I can say it has lessened. But when I do have these moments, they seem to hit hard. Is it because I’m now used to wakening up every day knowing what lies ahead? If I give it too much thought then perhaps I’m always going to feel that way?
There are no easy answers or solutions to combat the emotional side of your pain, but these are the days when you need to remember just to be kind and gentle to yourself.
If all you did that day was make it out of bed, then that’s fine. If you can’t face the day, then that’s fine, too. Not every day is going to be like this. The sun will shine again, and your pain and even emotions will subside long enough for you to give yourself a break and allow you to do something you wanted to do that day.
On these rollercoaster days, I try to do things that I find helpful, and sure, they don’t always work, but at the end of the day if I can say I gave it a go, if I can say that I tried to control my emotions, even just a little bit, then that’s progress enough for me.
1. Don’t overthink things. Especially when you’re feeling so low and the pain is so high, it’s easy for your mind to go in to overdrive, and it’s easy for you to beat yourself up over the tiniest of things. Give your mind and soul a rest and go easy.
2. Talk. I was never one for talking about how I felt, but just recently, being able to blurt out what is going through my mind has helped immensely, letting those frazzled thoughts out of your head is a refreshing release.
3. Write it down. This may sound crazy, but keep a journal of how you are feeling, your thoughts. I find that writing things down gets it out of my head and on to paper, leaving my body and brain with space to focus on other things. Plus having those words to look back on might just make you realize how far you’ve come.
4. Don’t give up. I live by the saying “Never make a permanent decision on a temporary feeling.” You may feel like giving up, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. Take each day as it comes, grab it with both hands and know that tomorrow is another day, and that day may just be better than today.
5. Escape. Do something that you enjoy. Get away from your current surroundings and breathe. Just recently I was very overwhelmed, and decided that I needed some time on my own, so I took my dog and went for a long walk down by the river. Nothing but me, him, nature and silence. For me this was calming, and I didn’t actually realize just how much I needed to escape my own head for those precious moments.
But most of all, what you do need to remember is that these are your emotions and this is your journey. People aren’t mind-readers (although wouldn’t that be amazing, maybe!?) and although probably with good intentions, other people are also not experts on your health. You are the only person who can control your pain, and know what works best for you.
So remember to lay off the self guilt trips, because those are doing you no good. Remember to be kind to yourself, because kindness costs nothing. Give yourself a massive pat on the back, because you deserve to be happy, and each day you are making the most of this life you have been dealt.
Nobody said having chronic pain was going to be easy, and it’s really not easy. But it is OK to cry, it’s OK to have sad moments and yearn for the life you once had. It’s OK to want more than pain in your future. You will probably continue to have moments like these, they may become less frequent, or they may even hurt more, but they don’t make you any less of a human being or define who you are as a person. So have your moments, and do what you need to do to help yourself, because you know what… that’s fine.
This blog was originally published on Chronically Composed.
Getty photo by Dreamerjl83