Why It Is Important to Connect With Others When Living With Chronic Pain
You know you’ve heard that saying “misery loves company.” It’s typically thought of with somewhat negative connotations and isn’t always quoted with the utmost positivity, but in the chronic illness community, it’s a little different.
Throughout my entire life with chronic illness and anxiety, I always had an extremely hard time believing anyone could understand me. Living with diseases that aren’t often talked about or taught to people on a large scale can cause feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation. There is so often paranoia, depression, and guilt that can accompany a life with chronic illness, especially when we are young and just learning our place in this world.
As chronic illness survivors, it is often a beautiful thing to connect with other human beings who feel our struggle. Since the birth of Facebook and other social media platforms, it has become easier to join a network of other people all over the world who share the same struggles, ideals, or interests. You can have a dialogue in the comfort of your own home with someone going through the same thing you are all the way over in Europe or even as close as down the street in your own city. The convenience of logging on and reaching out can be a source of support that is so critically imperative for chronic illness warriors, and one that should be utilized as often as possible. Of course, most friendships are grown on happiness, joy, and laughter (after all, what are friends for?!), but in the chronic illness community, the most lovely and powerful connections are sometimes cultivated through pain and sorrow. To be understood and accepted by others who, quite simply put, “just get it,” is just an immeasurably wonderful thing.
On the flip side, what’s awesome about self-growth and self-love is that you don’t always have to shout from the rooftops that you are a sick person. Just the feeling of being around like-minded people who all strive for that same light can be so uplifting and not only give mental clarity to the chronically ill but can help in physical ways too. Taking a yoga class, spending the day walking around a museum, going to see a concert or live theatre; these are all activities that help us feel connected to others while we awaken our own spirit. Cashing in on these moments when you are physically able to can manifest joy in powerful and long-term ways that can be so beneficial to your health.
For me, the significance and importance of chronic illness support groups and online networks have been so helpful in my personal journey towards better health. I’ve become more educated, enlightened and strong knowing that these other strong humans exist and fight the same good fight almost daily. At the same time, when I am on my mat in my neighborhood yoga studio, I often wonder if the other people in down dog even know how much they’re helping me. I can’t stress the importance of the human connection when you are living with chronic pain. Whether you want the world to know or only those chosen few, there is so much comfort in realizing that we are all really just trying to live our best life.
Getty Image by Patpitchaya