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To My Past Self in Chronic Pain

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Dear Annie,

I believe you. I see you. I see you are in pain that nobody can understand, that nobody can even imagine. I know you’re scared and doubting yourself constantly. But please, please know there will be a day when you will be better. A day when you will feel physically OK and you will love the life you have created.

It can be so terrifying. You never know what will make it worse. Or you do know things that make it worse, but you need to keep doing them. Realize that this is a terrifying thing, and it is completely reasonable to be terrified. Most people avoid pain and never have to experience it this often. You are so strong. You are strong enough even when you are terrified.

Chronic pain can be extremely isolating. It’s so hard when nobody believes you. When nobody understands because you “look fine” or “you did it last time.” People will always doubt you. People will judge you, people will doubt you, and they will treat you differently — sometimes even people you trust or expected to help you. But that doesn’t make it untrue. It doesn’t mean you’re not facing something extremely difficult they can’t understand. Don’t let other people’s doubts make you doubt yourself. You know yourself better than anyone ever can.

As Mary Anne Radmacher says, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the night saying I’ll try again tomorrow.” You are fighting something very difficult. Regardless of whether or not other people understand that, it’s true.

There will be times when you feel like you can’t keep going. When you feel like it isn’t worth it. There will be times when a doctor will tell you to come back in three months but you won’t be able to imagine an hour, let alone a day or months in that much pain. There will be times when you will want to sleep forever because it’s the only way to escape the pain. And yet there will be nights you never sleep because of the pain.

But when it gets hard, remember it will get better. It will get better in ways you never imagined. You will get better at managing your pain, or you will be lucky enough to find treatments that make it go away. It will take time, but it will be so worth it. You will still have hard days, but you will also have incredible days. You will rediscover dreams that feel so foreign right now. And you will work until they come true. Because you will be strong. You are so strong. No matter what it feels like. If you need help today, reach out to someone who can help you. And remember that you are so strong and you can do this.

This story originally appeared on Purple Garlic.

Getty image by Valio84SL.

Originally published: February 2, 2021
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