What My Smile Has Been Hiding Since My Chronic Pain Diagnosis

I never expected my life to change so dramatically as it has in the last five years. When, after years of struggling with constant aches and pains, you are finally given a diagnosis – you think that’s it. I know what’s wrong with me. Hallelujah! But then the reality hits.

No one tells you how hard it is. No one tells you how much your life, both work and personal, is going to change. I worked part-time, I used to go out with friends regularly, I loved shopping and spending time with the children. I was always doing something. Then suddenly, one day, I realized how different my life was.

I went through a couple of years of bad depression and began showing signs of anxiety. Me, anxious? The most outgoing, bubbly person you could probably meet.

I lost friends. They stopped messaging and asking me if I wanted to go out. The reason? I would say yes, the day would come and I would be so exhausted or unable to move, I would have to let them down.

Then came having to order my food online. That was my lifeline to the outside world. I knew at least once a week I would have to go out. Now? I go out once a fortnight, sometimes I can be indoors for three weeks at a time and just pop to the shop.

I’ve tried starting a makeup business from home, but I can no longer hold the brushes properly in my hand, so I have had to pretty much give it up. I play with it on a good day, but how can I sell a product when I can’t even sit and show people how to apply it? Or show them how good it is?

The worst part of chronic pain for me, is not seeing people. Not talking to anyone unless it’s via a message on Facebook or text. Sometimes I may only verbally speak to someone once a week! Do you know how lonely that is?

I show the smiley face and the facade that is happy me to the outside world. Yet deep inside, I feel so alone. I feel like I’m a burden to my kids as I rely on their help on occasions. I have had to ask friends for help because I can’t get somewhere or do something. I was the most independent person you knew. I could decorate, I could build furniture, hang pictures, garden. As a single mum, you have to do all these things so you learn them. My brain still wants to do all this. It’s just, my body can’t.

Somedays I don’t recognize the person I have become. The girl who used to love dressing up to go out with friends, who now has more pajamas than going out clothes. The girl who spends her time indoors alone watching movies or pottering with housework instead of being able to work and venture out shopping.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a few extremely good friends who have been with me through a lot of my tough times. And boy, have I had a lot!! But I’ve lost touch with some who meant a lot to me. So, if you’re reading this and you know someone with chronic pain, please don’t assume, just ask the questions. You never know what that smile may hide.

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