What You Should Know About Chronic Pain Awareness This September
PAIN. It’s a small, four-letter word that can occupy such a huge part of some people’s lives. The country asks for a month of awareness and education about pain each September, but being in pain is more than a monthly event for those of us who experience it on a chronic level.
It’s a constant in our lives, as typical as brushing our teeth or taking a shower. Once it’s taken hold, it truly becomes a part of us, almost like a new limb. With this new limb we are expected by society to awkwardly maneuver through life the same as everyone else. Whatever healthy people do is also required of us; only we have to do it all while our bodies play host to this thing called pain.
Some of us make the decision that we don’t want to hide our pain from the world. As I get older and my chronic pain settles in like an old friend, I find it easier to speak of its existence. I no longer get nervous that people may think I’m a hypochondriac or someone who can’t handle things, or is too lazy sometimes to just “power through it.” I have almost come to respect my pain — to talk about it like it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had. For me, being candid and open about pain is one of the only ways I feel connected to others who experience it as well; it’s a way for me to feel understood, accepted and seen. I try my best to not let it control my life, but sometimes it’s necessary to sit back and let the pain take the wheel.
As people who live with chronic pain, we are always trying to figure out new ways to suppress, stifle, fight, and attempt to cure our pain.
Even though we know there is oftentimes no cure for what’s ailing us, we continue to make it our life’s work to find the perfect supplement or the most beneficial yoga class.
Maybe we try crystal healing or holistic doctors.
We burn our skin in saunas and steam rooms and freeze our asses off in cryotherapy.
We spend money we don’t have on pills, creams, CBD oil and heating pads that look like torture devices.
The search for relief is never-ending, and even if nothing works, we’re always ready to try the next thing.
Pain is not something we only think about when we’re experiencing it. We worry about it, schedule around it, and feel its effects long before or after its arrival. I feel almost lucky that my pain is something I can see coming like a tornado; others don’t have it that easy. My brain is hard-wired to never leave home without the “essentials,” things I absolutely cannot do without in case a flare comes on. My purse rattles and jangles like a high school custodian with an aggressively filled key chain. I prepare for my pain like someone boarding up their house before a hurricane.
What I’m trying to portray here is that although some conditions get their own month, their own time in the spotlight, they are weights some of us carry every single second, every single day, and definitely more than just one month a year. When we ask for pain to be something others understand and are educated about, we are asking for a broader knowledge of what pain really is, aside from its physical repercussions. We are requesting respect. We are begging for acceptance. Like anyone else, life’s struggles can be heavy weights to bear, but while we are bearing ours, we sometimes hurt. For some of us, that hurt isn’t felt every day, maybe sometimes not even every month, but chronic pain lasts for long after its month in the national spotlight.
If you know anyone who may be struggling with any kind of pain, try to be empathetic to their challenges. Realize their entire lives may revolve around that pain.
Take the month of September to learn about a disease you know your colleague, friend or loved one might be fighting through. Educate yourself on what pain is and all the ways it can affect someone’s day-to-day existence.
The more months we have to shed light on any issues that makes us all human is a good thing.
And to my fellow pain warriors, stay strong, friends. You are not alone.