What I Wish Others Knew About Living With Chronic Pain


You open your eyes and look at the clock.

It’s 4:45 a.m.

You only have about an hour left in your bed, your safe haven.

Sure, maybe you could use a little more sleep. Most people do need that.

But lack of sleep isn’t what drives you to hit the snooze button…it’s the pain.

Pain, in it’s most basic form, warns us that something isn’t quite right, that something if off. At it’s best, it goes away with a good night’s sleep, a cold pill, or some ibuprofen. At its worst, it becomes debilitating, and the pain begins to rob us of our productivity, well-being, and our very lives.

Some pain can be fixed through surgery, medication, or alternative medicine techniques.  This type of pain is often referred to as acute pain. Other pain, however, can simply be managed.

Other pain lasts a lifetime.

Chronic pain persists over a long period of time and is resistant to most medical treatments. There is no cure for chronic pain.

Chronic pain can come in many forms, including muscle aches and pains, migraines, insomnia, panic attacks, fatigue, major depressive episodes, arthritis, stress, inflammation, trauma, cancer, and a number of other chronic conditions.

Whether it hurts to walk, hurts to wake up, or hurts to complete daily activities of living, you get it.

You are a man or woman who is familiar with struggling, aquatinted well with grief and frustration.

Chronic pain can turn any normal daily activity into a challenge:

It’s painful to get dressed in the morning.

It’s almost impossible to concentrate at school or work.

It’s difficult to be present in conversations.

It’s exhausting to come home and cook dinner.

It’s hard to enjoy anything that magnifies your pain.

Oh and exercise? You may as well forget about that too.

And you’re tired.

You’re tired of fighting your illness. You’re tired of explaining to others why you don’t have energy to do the things you used to do. You’re tired of explaining your chronic condition that seems to have no cure. You’re tired of hearing others’ opinions about how you can get better.

The physical pain is enough to be too much, but when you struggle with chronic pain, you know better than anyone that at times, the psychological pain outweigh the physical. Other people can empathize with physical pain, to some extent. But the psychological pain, the emotional pain, that is the pain often goes overlooked and unnoticed.

It’s the pain of knowing there is something wrong, but having no way to fix it.

It’s the pain of another doctor’s appointment that resulted in an “inconclusive” diagnosis.

It’s the pain of knowing that your quality of life is struggling.

It’s the pain that’s hidden behind the weary smile.

It’s the pain of knowing that you aren’t yourself.

It’s the pain of having one good day, followed by several difficult days.

It’s the pain of being misunderstood.

It’s the pain that pushes you to act differently around others.

That pain is the pain that outweighs it all.

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

Gettyimage by: Antonio_Diaz

Related to Chronic Pain

woman lying in bed

When Someone Dismissed My Health Issues as 'Just' Physical Pain

I was talking with someone about depression the other day, and used my life as an example for something (that’s what I do, how I explain things – I use my family or myself for examples), and then they said something that really made me stop. “Yeah, but yours is just physical pain.” Just physical [...]
Hand holding an umbrella in rain, black background - business and fashion concept.

What Harvard's Study That Claims There's 'No Relation' Between Rain and Pain Missed

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Erin Migdol, The Mighty’s chronic illness editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. For many people with chronic illnesses, rain and pain are inextricably linked. Storm clouds gathering? “Get ready [...]
White pills spilled out over some wood

Drug Enforcement Administration to Cut Opioid Production by 20 Percent in 2018

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced last month that they would be decreasing the number of opioids produced in 2018 by 20 percent. The new quota was first proposed in August, and a public comment period followed. The final quota order, published on November 8 and signed by Robert W. Patterson, acting administrator of the DEA, [...]
woman lying in bed sick

The Price of Celebrating the Holidays When You Have Chronic Pain

I am often asked why I keep myself to such a strict schedule and seem rather private during the holidays. It’s true. I have a routine I follow daily. I know my body can handle between eight and 10 hours of activity on a good day and even less on a moderate or bad day. [...]