The Mighty Logo

When Chronic Pain Means You Just Can’t With Other People’s Problems

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

So, your boss is being a jerk again. You had a fight with your girlfriend. Your new alternator is going to cost $300.

Sorry, but today, I don’t care. I just can’t.

It’s not because I’m a jerk, but because I just don’t have the bandwidth. I’m physically, mentally, emotionally, everythingly tapped out. My pain is that bad.

Plus, when you reach a point in your life when you have to call your neighbor to rush over to your house because you’re unable to get out of bed and your dog is crying because she is sick and urgently needs to go out, perspective of what “real” problems are seismically shifts.

Perspective check.

It’s not unlike returning from a country where you visit people living with no running water. You realize your 1,000-square foot semi-detached house with a leaky roof is a mansion. (Trust me, it is.)

I’m not trying to make it a competition. Just because I have fibromyalgia doesn’t make your jet lag invalid. If your best friend has lupus, you’re still allowed to think your flu really sucks.

This is about the extremes. An extreme of having a basic need not being met while someone is whining about being inconvenienced. So, you’re upset about the traffic jam? A half-mile ahead is a person who will now never walk again.

Remember Maslow?

Inspired by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I created my own hierarchy of what I can tolerate when I don’t feel well.

What can you do? Check in with me. Ask me about my Splatus. If I’m in the realm of freight train or asteroid, save your rant about overpriced figs for another day.

Or, spare me the rant altogether.

Because negativity sucks.

I get caught up in it myself. I complain. I gossip. I complain about gossipers. I do try not to… but I guess I’m doing it a bit right now, eh? But I hope you’re seeing the value of my statements in making a point.

And my final point is this: Negativity is just plain unhealthy. I believe in negative energy. I absolutely believe those studies where they have people talk mean to one plant and nice to another and the plant that gets nice words is much healthier. Negativity is toxic. Negativity is contagious. Negative statements manifest into negative outcomes.

I’m trying to heal, and I need to do all I can, which includes not having negativity around me or within me. Or I’m trying to stay at a lighter Splatus and don’t want to be triggered by negativity.

I say if it’s bothering you that much, take action. Positive action. Do something about it. Make a change. (Seriously, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine to listen to someone whine about a person or a job or a situation they created or choose to remain within.)

If there’s nothing you can do about it, focus on your blessings and practice acceptance. Tell yourself things like, “I live in a mansion.” (It does help; how do you think I’m getting through my back injury and fibromyalgia flare right now?)

If it’s a significant problem that you can’t do anything about, I’m here. I’ll listen. Truly. I just might not be able to be there for you this very day. I still love you, I just can’t always take that on. Please understand.

Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

Originally published: September 13, 2019
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