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The Harsh Questions Chronic Pain Forces You to Ask

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Pain is a part of you. A part of your life. It may linger some days only to come back around and rear its ugly head because it will always be a part of you.

Pain is intangible yet so impressionable on us. Pain can make us hide out in bed for days, change careers, get divorced. It can even force us to change as a person.

Question is: How will you let pain change you? Will you be angry at your situation and everything you had to give up? Will you become bitter towards those who can’t possibly understand? Or will you look at every day as a gift and be thankful for the person you have become because of your trials? Will you focus on healing more than your misfortunes? Will you still be kind and compassionate towards those who could not do the same for you during your hardest times?

To those of you who do not struggle with pain, envision this: You wake up with pain, you shower with pain, you work with pain, you lay down with pain. The pain is so widespread that if you tried to ice it then you might as well be bathing in ice cubes. Pain you can’t shake off. Pain you can’t ask to leave and come back when you’re done living your life or when that special occasion is over. Pain so intense that sometimes you contemplate if life is even worth it. Pain that engulfs your mind, body, and soul, then leaves you crawling and scratching your way out of the shadows and back to reality.

The life you once had complete control over now has control over you. This pain controls you like the diabolical tyrant it is. It tells you when you can shower, work, eat, and sleep. It forces you to push yourself beyond your limits, then punishes you days or even weeks after.

Hard to imagine? What if I told you that not only do you have to live with excruciating pain but you have to be judged, ridiculed and neglected by society, your friends and maybe even your family too. This is the harsh reality for many people living with chronic pain or invisible illnesses, including me.

To those of you healthy and pain-free: What are you losing by asking a simple question like “How are you?” Or “What’s your pain level today?” Or even “Do you need anything?” We, the sick, don’t need pity. We need love and understanding. The best way to show love is to show compassion.

To those of you who are sick and/or living with pain: If you had the choice to let your pain rule you and your life or to deal with your pain as best you can and decide what life you want… what would you choose? It’s a daily struggle to cope with chronic pain and illness, but if you choose to do your best every single day, that in itself is a victory.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by Todd Warnock

Originally published: January 11, 2017
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