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A Letter to My Dad, Who Supported Me in My Journey With Chronic Pain

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This post is dedicated to my hero, also known as my dad.

“I am a strong person, but every now and then I also need someone to take my hand and say everything will be all right…” — Unknown

I am going to go back in time and write a letter to my dad, who was my closest support system during all the years I’ve had chronic pain.

Dear Dad, I know it must be really difficult to see your only child going through such hell because of physical pain no doctor can fix. I feel guilty all the time because I know I am not the daughter I once was and I miss “me.” I know I can be really hard to deal with, and you are usually really patient with me. I am angry, depressed, anxious, scared, and feel worthless. I do not even want to get out of bed anymore and the only reason I do is for class or a doctor’s appointment. You are spending so much money on all these procedures, doctors, medications, and everything else we are trying to rid my body of this horrific pain no one can see. Some days I want to just die, and then I think of what that would do to you, and I cannot imagine hurting you. I hate myself, Dad.

The main reason I am able to keep going is because of you and how supportive you are during this awful time for me. I know no one can see my scars or physical pain and many people think I am making this up. You never doubt me. You always believe me and never once have questioned whether or not I am in actual pain despite not being able to see my pain. I never have to prove anything to you. You believe me, and I have never doubted your belief. When I feel as if I am “going crazy,” I remember the person I love more than anything has never once doubted an illness he is unable to see.

I am no fun to be around right now. But I look at you and all the effort you put into helping me find a cure, and I know I cannot give up. You take me to all my doctors’ appointments. You must really love me to take so much of your time to sit in waiting rooms with me half of both our weeks! I always feel so guilty when a new medication does not work. I always feel guilty when I have another procedure or surgery the doctor promises me will work and it fails. I do not even feel like the medication or the surgery failed, I feel as if I failed. However, you never look at me like a failure. You never get down and out or seem as consumed with worry as I do. You probably hide it very well because you care so much for me.

You truly believe something will eventually work, and how can I give up if you are so adamant that we will not stop until something works for my invisible illness? You keep me going. I continuously feel as if I am letting you down, and yet when I look into your eyes I do not see a dad who is upset with me. Only once can I remember you getting really frustrated with me because I did not believe a certain therapist/holistic healer could help me. You drove me into Philadelphia and sat in the waiting room as I reluctantly and unwillingly went into the therapist’s office who specialized in invisible illnesses. I did not think she could not help me and did not have an open mind and left her office crying endless tears. You got upset with me on the drive home because I refused to ever go back. You were not happy with my negative attitude and you yelled in frustration. I am sure you were not really mad at me, but the invisible illness. It has to be frustrating for you to keep trying everything in your power to help me and my pain, and yet nothing helps. You are human after all. I know deep down I am not letting you down.

The two most important things you did for me during my darkest hours of chronic pain were believing in me and my invisible illness and never giving up on me. What more could anyone ask for? All I really needed was to be believed, validated, and supported.  I truly cannot think of anything you could have done differently. In many ways you saved my life. Even now at the age of 35 you are the one person who knows the ins and outs of my journey with chronic pain. Sometimes I think you forget I still have chronic pain because I never talk about it and manage it so well, and I just want you to remember it is still there, and there are times when I am extra quiet or cranky because of my invisible illness. Even at the age of 35, a mother myself, I need someone to hold my hand say everything will be all right.


Your daughter, Jessica

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo by ASIFE

Originally published: March 30, 2017
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