Why I Love Having Dreams in Which I Am Free From Pain
Like a lot of people with chronic pain, my sleep is fleeting. And when I do eventually sleep, my dreams are vivid. It could be medication causing it, or it could be the pain itself. It could be a mixture of the two. When I talk to my friends with chronic pain conditions, they talk about the prevalence of dreams where they are free from the pain they are in. How in their dreams they are always able to do the things they can no longer do, without the pain they currently go through each and every day. My dreams don’t give me that, but they do give me something else.
You see, I don’t remember a time in my life where I’ve been pain-free. I’ve been in and out of hospitals and doctors appointments since birth. So for me, pain is a reality that doesn’t go away. There’s a joke in the chronic pain community: “If I woke up pain free, I’d think I was dead.” And actually, I probably would. My pain has changed over the years, though. It’s gone through different stages of manageability, and had different levels of impact on my mobility. I currently have the lowest mobility I’ve ever had, and I can see the way this could deteriorate if I don’t find something to help with it. But in my dreams… in my dreams, I am still mobile and free from the wheelchair and the walking sticks that allow me independence. The pain doesn’t stop me from moving freely.
When I tell people this, they often ask if it causes a negative impact on my mental health. I can see where they are coming from. After all, I still wake and lie in bed for a minimum of 30 minutes before I can move, it still takes time to get to the living room and the kitchen, etc, etc. But I love those dreams. Those dreams remind me of dancing as a teenager, of playing rounders and netball for school teams. They remind me of all the things I used to do before the pain stopped me. Before my mobility became something I was fighting to keep. And they remind me that there’s hope somewhere along the line that despite the fibromyalgia, the arthritis, and the hypermobility, there might be a way to get some semblance of that back.
You see, for me, hope is non-negotiable. It stops me from being pulled into a black hole that my mental health and chronic pain conditions could pull me into. It stops me from living each day in one big spiral. Hope gives me a chance to keep going. It’s the dreams in which I’m dancing on pointe shoes again, it’s the days I manage to walk that little bit further before needing my wheelchair, it’s waking up and my fingers not being painful to stretch, the conversations with loved ones about possible medical trials or new discoveries. It’s knowing that someone cares enough to take the time out of a busy schedule to say ‘Hey, I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.’ Because that means I’m not being forgotten. Hope is a powerful weapon to have in the arsenal of tools needed when dealing with multiple conditions.
Getty photo by MarinkaG