5 Steps I Take When My Body Doesn't Feel Like Mine Because of Chronic Pain
It’s been a challenging week. I recently was re-diagnosed (for the third time) with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It’s become a chronic pain situation, and it’s taking a toll on my mental health.
Living with chronic pain, depression, and PTSD has led me to some very unhelpful thoughts, including thoughts of not wanting to be alive anymore. I’m not actively suicidal – I just don’t want to be in my body anymore. I am exhausted, and unsure of how to continue on.
These are the steps I take when I’m feeling like my body isn’t mine anymore and I’m over taken with pain and flashbacks.
1. I stay in bed.
Some days I don’t have what it takes to move. It hurts too badly, and I just need to curl up in a ball and pray for the strength to make it through. These are the worst days, the days when my anxiety is out of control and I’m unsure if I can muster the energy to even make myself a meal. It’s crucial that I don’t beat myself up for this. I need to meet myself where I’m at, and if that means dealing with my pain the only way I know how, then that’s what I need to do.
2. I get out of bed.
When I’m feeling a little bit better, it’s very helpful to get out of my room, go downstairs, make myself a meal, and sit outside. It gives me a break from the scenery that I’ve become accustomed to. It helps my mood considerably to get out of bed. If I have the energy and motivation, I may even get in my car and go downtown to walk around. I evaluate my pain throughout my day and try not to push myself to a point where I am forced to lay in bed the entire next day.
3. I reach out to friends.
I have the tendency to isolate. Historically, I have lived in a bubble. I wouldn’t tell people what was going on with me, and I definitely wouldn’t let them in on my deepest, darkest secrets. Today that is different. My friends know my struggles, and I know theirs. I am able to live a life full of meaningful relationships. It is by remembering that I’m not alone that I’m able to face the pain each day.
4. I practice piano.
I am not an experienced pianist. In fact, I just began lessons again and am working on very simple songs. It helps me to get out of bed, move three feet to my keyboard, and practice playing those songs. I get a sense of accomplishment when I’ve improved and it also gets me outside of my pain and depression for a little while.
5. I remind myself that I’m in the present moment.
I can’t change the past and tomorrow is not something I actively need to worry about. All I have is today, and the hope that I can make it through. I’ve learned that it’s not about doing – I can’t measure my worth on how many things I accomplish each day. It’s simply about listening to my body and mind, and making sure that I’m taking care of myself properly.
These are the things that I do to make it through a rough time with chronic pain and mental illness. I have learned that it’s not about what I can’t do, but what I can do on a daily basis. I have an incredible amount of strength, even when I don’t feel like I do. I know I have the capacity to continue on, just for today.
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