19 Signs You're Not 'Too Sensitive,' You Have Chronic Pain
Have you ever told someone about your chronic pain, only to be told that you’re probably just “too sensitive?” Many people with chronic pain have been told this throughout their pain journey, particularly when their pain can’t be easily understood or explained — ultimately leaving them feeling dismissed and abandoned. As Mighty contributor Angela Hartlin wrote in her essay My Pain Was Not From Being ‘Too Sensitive,’:
What is wrong with the healthcare system when a patient can be gaslit so badly that they begin to doubt the alarms their body is sending? When professionals don’t have answers in their expertise, why do they place the burden back onto the patient instead of investigating symptoms and offering alternatives to look into?
We need doctors, friends and family to understand that a person with chronic pain isn’t being “too sensitive” — they are experiencing real, physical symptoms that are not any less real just because the cause is invisible, not well understood or can’t be cured. So we asked our Mighty community to share signs they have chronic pain and aren’t “too sensitive.” People with chronic pain deserve to be believed when they say they are in pain, not brushed off.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
- “When I have to stop eating and grab someone’s hand to deal with the pain.” — Mollie D.
- “Just the overall daily exhaustion. Most people don’t get exhausted from doing nothing all day. Dealing with pain 24/7 will do that to you. Also, my lower back is inflamed 90 percent of the time. All you have to do is touch it and see for yourself.” — Larissa P.
- “Waking up in the middle of night with a muscle spasm so severe that you have to army crawl to get meds. Pain hitting you from head to toe as soon as your feet hit the floor.” — Deana B.
- “My veins start bulging, I limp, I cancel plans, to hide what’s really going on so I won’t be a burden. I try to do everything someone my age is ‘supposed to do’ when all I want to do is lay in my cool dark bedroom.” — Cindy A.
- “I’m not a hugger. I really don’t like people touching me period because I’m afraid they might unintentionally hurt me. All my pain centers around my shoulders/arms/neck and back.” — Allison M.
- “Just the simple fact that it never goes away. Ever.” — Terri D.
- “Where to start… Having to rest after I shower because it’s so exhausting. Or having to rest for days after spending just a few hours out with friends or family. Not being able to have my fiancé touch me some days because the slightest touch brings me to tears. Having days where I can’t even stand up because my pain is so bad my legs just give out.” — Sammi H.
- “Hmmm let’s see… The look on my face that just shows the sometimes all encompassing pain?” — Beth P.
- “I hold my breath a lot because I am in so much stinking pain. That’s one of the ways I deal with extreme pain so as not to make others uncomfortable with my ongoing agony. I do this instead of groaning out loud.” — Tonya W.
- “I slow down drastically and my chest turns very red, almost purple. Some people still think it’s me being sensitive until they see the signs and they start to realize it’s not me being overdramatic.” — June R.
- “When all of the color drains from my face and I look like a ghost means I am hurting a lot. When I start doing Lamaze breathing is the best sign I have to let others know how bad I am hurting.” — Stephanie F.
- “When showering becomes exhausting and migraines become frequent. The most tiring part of my week is having to take a shower.” — Liz T.
- “How many things that I miss that I really would have loved to do, from classroom teaching to sailing to nights out.” — Gabbie J.
- “The pain is always in the same spot and it never ever goes away. For me it’s in my thoracic spine and feels like I’m getting run over by a 16-wheeler over those vertebrae, oh and sharp pains when I breathe.” — Oriana A.
- “After surgery, I recover better than others do, with less or no pain meds, because I am used to being in intense chronic pain. Post-surgery pain is horrific for those without chronic pain because they aren’t used to that level.” — Brandy B.
- “When the lightest of touches seem to completely overwhelm me, when moving seems difficult and I withdraw from interaction or conversation, it’s a very good sign that that I’m not just being picky, I’m feeling everything way too much, and everything hurts.” — Thorø L.
- “When you rarely bother to take over-the-counter NSAIDs anymore… because if you took them every time you were in pain, you’d rot your stomach.” — Jessica L.
- “I’ve been through labor. I have a high pain tolerance (even doctors have commented on that). So no I’m not oversensitive. I’m in constant pain. Normal people aren’t in constant pain so I’m not just sensitive.” — Meriena K.
- “When I touch my body and it hurts.” — Melzinnia C.
Read the stories below to find out how our Mighty community copes with chronic pain: