The above comment was left for me in response to the entry "The Hidden Dangers of Chronic Pain". (published 1/28/2016) When I read the comment it made me remember...I remember feeling this way myself..I remembered hurting myself because of it and sadly...I'm sure that we're not the only ones to have been here...so for that reason, I'd like to take the time to respond here and hopefully turn over some stones.
Please keep in mind I am not passing judgement and my questions and comments are meant only to see if we can flip some stones. I don't have all the answers either okay? I do not know your life, nor your pain, nor your personal journey, but I do know mine, and sometimes? we're more alike than we are unalike.
The thing with medications is? they're not a "cure all" to our pain (even though we may want and need them to be) and although they may help to decrease the level of pain you feel...they probably won't take it away completely, and even though you may be taking the medications as directed, you may still find your pain is higher than you'd like or are able to cope and manage with. You may even need to try many many different kinds of medication(s) before you find the one(s) that work best for you. You may also find that your medications may work for a while and then stops, or you may find that the side effects with the medications make taking them unbearable. There's a lot of "maybe's" when it comes to treating our pain. (which only adds to the frustration right? right!)
- have you talked to your doctor about it? maybe your dosage needs to be adjusted or possibly try a different medication? are your expectations of the medications realistic? maybe you need a medication holiday to let your body recover from the medication effects?
- have you explored the alternative treatments that are available? you may find that when medications are used in combination with other treatments like chiropractic, massage, physio-therapy, acupuncture, infusions and/or nerve block injections, thought/talk therapy, behaviour therapy (as examples) you may be able to lower your pain levels
- what other coping skills do you have that you can turn to? do you have hobbies/interests that can help occupy your mind off your pain? do you journal? what about art? do you paint? colour? draw? And there's always my personal favourite...music. What songs make you feel good? what songs inspire you? What songs make you want to dance? There's also days spent in the park, in your garden, talking with friends/family? Have you tried visualization for relaxation? What about yoga, tai chi, walking, swimming and other gentle exercises? Do you have a support system that you can turn talk to and ask for help? And most importantly (as least in my mind) is how do you talk to you when you're feeling under your pain and what do you do for you when you're feeling it? What we do or don't do for us when we're feeling our pain will either increase it or see us through it.
As you're already experiencing, chronic pain is not only physical pain...it's emotional and mental too and each one requires it's own treatment and coping skills to help us through and each can impact how we experience and feel the others and when all three are at a pique? well...our pain is beyond is our control sometimes. The words we use when talking to ourselves are very important to our pain and how we experience it....and our copings skills are too.
A life with chronic pain means that some days you may find you feel almost like your old self again and there are other days when you're hurting and there will be other days when all you can do is breath. When these days come, how do you care for yourself and your needs? what do you tell yourself and are your words the truth or your pain talking?
here are just a few other things to keep in mind when your pain flares...
- YOUR needs are important! yes they are! and it's up to YOU to take care of them. And when you take the time to do so...you are NOT being selfish, you are NOT being lazy...you are loving yourself enough to do what you need to help you through your pain and you need this
- it's okay if the chores don't get done or it takes you many breaks or even days to work through them...just do what you can as you can and know that it's enough...pace yourself and when you've done more than you should've...take the time to rest
- if you try a treatment and it doesn't work...don't give up and don't beat yourself up either okay? truth is you're going to try many different things before you find something that works for you...keep trying though...you're worth the effort
- it's okay if others don't understand what you're going through...it's not their life...it's yours to live to the best of your abilities whether someone else understands or not. It's best to keep the less understanding people less informed on your life...they'll be less toxic that way
- just because you have a chronic illness always remember that you are more than your diagnosis! you are so much more and I know it's easy to get lost in the pain and I know too that the pain will change you in many ways...but don't let it change who you are as a person...hold on to YOU!
- yes your dreams may have changed now that you're living with a chronic illness but that does NOT mean that you have to give up on them okay? it just means you may have to go about them differently, or they may need to be tweaked a little, or it may take a little longer...but don't give up on them!
- don't stop living your life because of your pain...what makes you smile? what makes you feel good? what helps you to live beyond your pain? what makes you laugh till your belly hurts? those things are still important in life and you know what else? when you're living doing these things for you? your pain takes a back seat and it's not in control anymore...YOU ARE! and when we live in these moments of our lives we can see how special our lives still are...even if it's a hurting one
- there will be days when you want to hide because of your pain and it's okay if you do every once in awhile...but life happens outside of your comfort bubble. Learn what helps you to cope and bring it along with you, spend time with people who understand and will support you, talk to your friends and family (those you really trust and can count on) about what you're going through and let them know what you need
- whatever you do for you to help you through the pain...please....don't leave scars behind...the kind you can see and even the kind you can't. I can appreciate and understand how the pain may drive you to hurt yourself as a way to cope, but there are other options and we don't have to hurt ourselves anymore
- and when you're still struggling...reach out to on-line supports, mental health crisis centers in your area, support groups, religious affiliations, your doctor, counselor...you are not alone and there is help
This turned out a lot longer than I'd planned on it being when I started typing and I'm almost done I promise...
Although medications are a major component for many in treating their pain...it's not the only option, and if you're still struggling with your pain...I hope you'll keep this entry in mind.
We can't change that we hurt, but we can change what do about it moving forward.
I hope this helps a little and please....take good care of you and your needs too