The Mighty Logo

The Separate 'Planet' We Live on as People With Chronic Pain

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Living with chronic pain is like living on another planet with a completely different atmosphere.

Other pains can usually be pointed to or clearly described. They are polite enough to stay within certain physical or emotional confines, and have a reasonable shelf life.

Chronic pain, on the other hand simply refuses to leave, and often roams around the body wherever it pleases.

To add insult to injury, instead of keeping within the physical body, it sort of oozes out of its original borders and takes over more and more of the territory of experience, eventually seeping through and soaking into the entire fabric of one’s existence.

Pain Becomes the House We Live In

What was originally on the inside, now feels like its taken over the outside, too. Like you are within it, instead of it within you. At that point, pain isn’t just here or there, it’s everywhere.

It’s really very strange, and challenging to explain to others who haven’t had the experience. It’s like nothing else. Sometimes it feels like an unwanted house guest who never leaves, but eventually it feels like the house itself.

You’re surrounded by a field of pain and everything you see, do, hear, express, or receive must pass through the ever-present fog of the pain zone. I think this might be the most difficult thing for others to understand.

Pain is no longer just part of our experience of life. Life must now take place completely immersed within it.

Too Late For A Band-Aid

I think this is one reason it’s so hard to find treatments and modalities that actually work for chronic pain. It’s complex and has become interwoven with the whole self and the whole body and the whole nervous system and everything that is offered is just way too small, or too specialized, or too directed to a single aspect of this all-encompassing thing, called chronic pain.

It’s sort of like calling in the plumber to fix the leak in the kitchen sink when the whole house has just fallen off a cliff.

The well-meaning plumber focuses on the kitchen sink and says, here, let’s change the washers or whatever and you’re living in this disaster of a house that needs all kinds of different and simultaneous attentions and the plumber just can’t see past the broken faucet.

Or something like that.

Looking For The Door That Lets Pain Out

I’m looking for the door that lets the pain out, like on a spaceship and you open it and everything is sucked right out — the whole atmosphere of planet pain – and then you get to close the door and start over.

But I think the door I’m looking for doesn’t open out like that, it opens in.

Anyway, I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve found it.

Getty photo by interstid

Originally published: June 9, 2018
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