The Mighty Logo

The Relentless Firestorm of Chronic Pain

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

At times, the relentless firestorm of chronic pain can leave you feeling absolutely pummeled. Wave after wave comes crashing overhead, and despite desperation to surrender, to give in, to hold up the white flag and beg for the barrage to end — the storm rages on with ferocity.

The immense toll of emotional exhaustion from these types of attacks is difficult to describe unless it’s something you’ve experienced personally.

Weeks, months and even years of unrelenting pain can lead to what feels like an unraveling of your own self. You have recurring thoughts and feelings of utter incompatibility with the world. A sense of being untethered permeates daily life, and you fall farther and farther away from your list of responsibilities and obligations. You have so much left undone, yet no mental ability to begin to attempt to conceptualize or organize the emails, texts, calls and letters that have gone – and will continue to go — unanswered.

These long-term flares alter your thinking, your perception of what is and at times, your ability to focus on anything outside of immediate survival in the present moment.

The ground that once felt sturdy to walk on seems to have vanished and buckled beneath you. Time blurs together as you struggle remember a time where your reality didn’t feel so incredibly hard.

It requires immense effort to muster even the slightest bit of trust within your body that is experiencing so much pain, so continuously. With each wave of intense pain that returns, tears fall a little bit more easily. You are as exhausted as you are defeated.

You know that you have a toolbox of coping mechanisms — but it feels like you’ve been reaching into that box all day, every day, for more days than you can count.

The pain itself feels cruel, almost merciless. If it wasn’t shattering you into a million tiny pieces you might even pause and observe its sheer force with reverent awe. Yet somehow, no matter how broken you feel, you continue to carry yourself through these moments.

Though your insides feel like scorched, smoky earth — you persevere. Inside tears of overwhelm, when you find yourself thinking, “…I just can’t do this anymore…” —  you keep doing it.

This quiet courage unceremoniously carries you through your days. It can be easy to forget this brave little voice, so gentle behind the loud screams of pain. But it is always there, working humbly, trailing behind you and whispering, “yes, you can,” in every moment you are convinced that you can’t.

It can be difficult to imagine a way of being that isn’t so filled with pain and challenge. Days where you experience pockets of ease. Days where you’re able to leave the house and walk in your favorite park. Days where you have the ability to entertain the possibility of planning to get together with family and friends.

These parts of life, these moments of living that you love so much, can appear as a fading mirage when you are in the depths of a chronic pain flare.

Please remember, inside of these relentless and consuming flares, that they can and will change — eventually.

Things simply cannot stay exactly the way they are right now forever, because that is not the way of the world. We are in constant flux and flow. The law of impermanence touches all things. What seems like it might never end, will change. Not on a timeline that you can dictate, but sooner or later.

As you ride out these intensely heartbreaking and physically arduous storms, cocoon yourself in gentle energy. See yourself through eyes of kindness and compassion. Remove expectations. Speak kindly to yourself, the way you would to a child you love dearly, if they were ever going through this type of pain.

Allow yourself to fall apart. Cry. Scream into a pillow. Release emotion often and without shame.

Know that in falling apart and letting go when it is too heavy to carry on, you create endless opportunities to improve your ability to put yourself back together with softness.

You grow your capability to soothe yourself through suffering.

Inside of the breaking, the fire, you are forging a resilience that is unshakeable.

This type of resilience imprints itself on the very essence of your being. To be broken time and time again, and put yourself back together, takes a special kind of strong.

To do it behind closed doors and blackout curtains, battling an invisible beast, takes an even more unique kind of courage. Never forget, diminish, or take for granted that reservoir of strength, courage, and relentless resiliency that inhabits the very core of you.

Follow this journey on Mindful Migraine

Originally published: February 24, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home