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No One Is 'Too Young' to Have Chronic Pain

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I have such a strange relationship with my body. It serves its purpose, getting me from point A to point B and all the little steps in between, but it isn’t always effective in doing so.

I’ve been in three major car wrecks from the time I was 12 to the time I was 17. Each has left some kind of lasting impact on my neck, shoulders and back, all with varying degrees of severity. Like most people living with chronic pain (like my mom), some days are better than others. And some days, like the one I’m writing this on, are worse than others.

I’m young and so I tend to forget there are things I can’t do with my body. I can’t lift extremely heavy things, I can’t stand or sit up for too long without being able to sit back or lay down, and I have to be careful where I sit because I can hurt myself if I sit in an uncomfortable chair for too long. But if I speak about these things to people I feel like I’m written off, brushed to the side because people my age aren’t supposed to be in pain like someone three times their age.

I know something’s going on with me. It’s only now that I can move toward getting a concrete answer on what that is (thanks, American healthcare system!). But I feel like even when I have the x-rays, when I have proof, no one will believe I’m not just some lazy young adult trying to get out of lifting something. When you’re my age and you have pain, that’s what nearly everyone thinks. They think that because you’re young you should be able to bounce back, sleep it off and get up the next day without a glance back. But that’s just not the case for everyone. It sure as hell isn’t for me.

If you stumble across this and you know someone between 18-25 who, for some reason, has chronic pain, listen to them. Don’t assume that because they’re young they can just “get over it.” If they choose you to confide in about their pain, they definitely aren’t going to get over it anytime soon. So be nice. Be understanding. And most of all, listen.

Getty image by Princigalli.

Originally published: October 19, 2020
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