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What I Wish Others Knew About Living With Chronic Pain

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You open your eyes and look at the clock.

It’s 4:45 a.m.

You only have about an hour left in your bed, your safe haven.

Sure, maybe you could use a little more sleep. Most people do need that.

But lack of sleep isn’t what drives you to hit the snooze button…it’s the pain.

Pain, in it’s most basic form, warns us that something isn’t quite right, that something if off. At it’s best, it goes away with a good night’s sleep, a cold pill, or some ibuprofen. At its worst, it becomes debilitating, and the pain begins to rob us of our productivity, well-being, and our very lives.

Some pain can be fixed through surgery, medication, or alternative medicine techniques.  This type of pain is often referred to as acute pain. Other pain, however, can simply be managed.

Other pain lasts a lifetime.

Chronic pain persists over a long period of time and is resistant to most medical treatments. There is no cure for chronic pain.

Chronic pain can come in many forms, including muscle aches and pains, migraines, insomnia, panic attacks, fatigue, major depressive episodes, arthritis, stress, inflammation, trauma, cancer, and a number of other chronic conditions.

Whether it hurts to walk, hurts to wake up, or hurts to complete daily activities of living, you get it.

You are a man or woman who is familiar with struggling, aquatinted well with grief and frustration.

Chronic pain can turn any normal daily activity into a challenge:

It’s painful to get dressed in the morning.

It’s almost impossible to concentrate at school or work.

It’s difficult to be present in conversations.

It’s exhausting to come home and cook dinner.

It’s hard to enjoy anything that magnifies your pain.

Oh and exercise? You may as well forget about that too.

And you’re tired.

You’re tired of fighting your illness. You’re tired of explaining to others why you don’t have energy to do the things you used to do. You’re tired of explaining your chronic condition that seems to have no cure. You’re tired of hearing others’ opinions about how you can get better.

The physical pain is enough to be too much, but when you struggle with chronic pain, you know better than anyone that at times, the psychological pain outweigh the physical. Other people can empathize with physical pain, to some extent. But the psychological pain, the emotional pain, that is the pain often goes overlooked and unnoticed.

It’s the pain of knowing there is something wrong, but having no way to fix it.

It’s the pain of another doctor’s appointment that resulted in an “inconclusive” diagnosis.

It’s the pain of knowing that your quality of life is struggling.

It’s the pain that’s hidden behind the weary smile.

It’s the pain of knowing that you aren’t yourself.

It’s the pain of having one good day, followed by several difficult days.

It’s the pain of being misunderstood.

It’s the pain that pushes you to act differently around others.

That pain is the pain that outweighs it all.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Gettyimage by: Antonio_Diaz

Originally published: January 6, 2018
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