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5 Ways Chronic Pain Ages You

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“Ugh, I feel so old,” a 20-year-old said.

That statement can be heard from many young adults, this writer included. I have heard many others respond, “Quit complaining, you are so young.”

Or, “Oh, to be young again. When I was your age…”

There are many different reasons as to why young adults may feel this way. But my reason — along with the reason for countless others — is chronic pain.

Here are five ways that being a chronic pain warrior can make someone feel older than their years:

1. Being in constant pain

When you are in pain nonstop, it can make you feel like you can’t do anything. Sometimes even walking to the bathroom can make you feel like you are going to pass out from pain and exhaustion.

2. Lack of sleep

With constant pain comes lack of sleep, and the vicious cycle begins. Many of us have anxiety. Besides my every day anxiety, my nightly anxiety is magnified knowing I won’t sleep well and not being able to find a comfortable position. When you don’t sleep, the pain usually follows. When you have pain, you don’t sleep.

3. Feeling tired from walking a short distance

One thing I have noticed is ever since I started having chronic pain is I have had trouble walking long distances. One day I could barely walk a quarter of what I did the day before, and it was downhill after that. A lot of people with chronic pain feel the same way, but we deal because it’s our new “normal.”

4. It’s hard to stay out late

I was never a big partier in college anyway. But it can still be hard to be a 21-year-old watching your friends do as they please, including going out to bars and walking all over the mall. Others are living their best life, while you are just trying to make it through the day. It doesn’t make it easy to feel young.

5. Tight clothing is a thing of the past

When I look through social media I see many young women wearing the cutest, form-fitting clothes. I am the one wearing loose, comfortable jeans and a sweater. My favorite outfit when I’m at home is sweatshirts, sweatpants (because they don’t bother my legs) and a messy bun. I would rather stay home in bed most times than go out, because I know what will happen for the next several days.

Society likes to dictate how people at any age should be living their lives. But most of the time society doesn’t take into consideration how everyone is different and not everyone can do what they are “supposed” to do.  I say listen to your own body because it’s OK to not to be like everyone else. If there is one thing you can learn from all of this is to listen to your body, because you are the only one that can make a difference.

Getty image by fizkes

Originally published: October 31, 2019
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