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3 Ways I Fight the Isolation of Chronic Pain

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Isolation and chronic pain go hand in hand – there’s no sugar-coating it. Anyone with CP knows we make deliberate choices about our schedules every day that revolve around our pain and energy levels.

For me, work takes up the majority of my spoons for the week. That means when the weekend comes, it’s time to rest, period. This is when a secret side effect of chronic pain creeps in: isolation.

Social Life Reality

Over the years, many of our close friends have moved either out of state or out of the city. If we are going to see them, more planning has to take place which means something else has to give. For example, if we are going to visit with our friends on Saturday night, then Friday night, Saturday (leading up to the event) and even Sunday are spent in rest mode.

This type of planning quickly takes a toll. Many times is just not worth it for me to go through weekend planning in addition to my carefully managed weekly schedule. So we pay the price. I say “we” because my husband is isolated too.

I do everything I can to encourage my husband to go out and be social but understandably, it’s hard for him. He sees his wife in so much pain and all he wants to do is sit with me and cheer me up. Who wants to go out with that guilt? Who wants to go out by themselves and constantly get asked the question, “Where is Puja?”

In the summer, I look outside and see people biking, walking with their dogs, just enjoying life…and there we are – in our house again as another weekend of rest goes by. Us spoonies know the weather has to be perfect too. It’s 19 degrees in Chicago right now – way too cold for me to go out. The same thing applies for super hot days too.

To fight feelings of isolation and loneliness, I rely on a few key lifesavers:

1. Writing. It was during a flare that I had the idea to start writing this blog. I was supposed to be at a conference but was in so much pain that I couldn’t get out of bed. So, I had a brainstorming session instead! I find that as I write, I’m distracted from my pain – I consider it an alternative form of therapy. Plus, writing this blog has connected me to so many incredible people that the last thing I feel is alone. Would you consider writing a blog? What would you write about? If that’s not your style, try to reawaken the poet in you to write a poem for your partner or fill the pages with a story where you are the superhero!

2. Pets. I couldn’t even imagine my life without my bulldog, JZ, in it. He’s not only a love machine, natural heating pad and constant source of entertainment, but doctors say that pets help lower anxiety and blood pressure and boost immunity. JZ keeps me company on weekends when my husband is running all the household errands and gives me a reason to get out of bed. I mean, JZ has to eat!

3. Netflix and Chill. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love my Netflix. Rest mode is prime time to binge on the new big hits. I mean, who can feel alone with the cast of “Scandal” keeping you company?

What do you do to stay connected? I’d love to hear your ideas in the conversation below!

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 13, 2017
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