The Reality of Chronic Pain

 

I never thought that at the age of 30 I would be diagnosed with a chronic illness that would force me to quit my dream job and start over.

I never once thought that something I couldn’t even see would be able to uproot my life so hardcore.

Guys, not every day is sunshine, puppies and rainbows over here. Okay well….there are always puppies in my life…but that’s besides the point.

Kaylee & Harper pups
My fur-babies — Harper & Kaylee (left to right)

I do my best to keep things positive but we all have those ups and downs.

Every day I wake up, I do not always think to myself, “What a blessing to be alive!”. I often ask myself, “Why am I here, and why is this pain something I need to continuously suffer through?”  No doubt you have often thought the same thing.

Unfortunately, for happiness and joy to exist, the flip side of that coin has to also exist–pain and sadness. Otherwise, we would have no frame of reference or appreciation for the good days. It’s just a part of the human condition, we just get to experience it more often that most. Unfortunately we are just lucky like that.

Each time my chronic pain gears up, it immediately triggers the same pattern of thinking for me, “What did I do to deserve this? Why do I have to wake up to this? No one should have to go through this. I don’t want to live like this. I just want to be happy!”

Without fail those old familiar feelings of depression come flooding back to me. It’s as if I’m conditioned to feel that way when dealing with the pain. I’ve noticed my motivation dwindles and I begin sleeping a lot because, simply put, I don’t want to be awake for any of those feelings.

Chronic Pain with IBD
Harper pup trying to cuddle with me so I feel better.

It’s as if I need to retreat into my cave, until I feel like a human again. Because why should I face another human being when I feel like the living embodiment of suffering? Who wants to be around that? It’s too much work to put up a facade, like everything is okay. Because obviously it’s not! I don’t have the energy to be “on” when my body is going through hell.

At the same time, I’ve noticed that after about day 3 of “cave status” I get fed up with all of it! I literally say enough is enough, and despite how I feel I get back to life! I can only take so much of feeling like a waste of human flesh. I put that very bluntly, but that’s what I feel like when I’m dealing with crippling pain. I feel like a waste and a disappointment because all I’m doing is eeking my way through existence. It’s a terrible feeling, knowing you aren’t able to contribute to your household. I just want so badly to be productive and feel like I’m actually living my life, not just existing.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s okay to have those hibernation days. Sometimes we just need to replenish ourselves, save up some energy and just recuperate away from the normal humans. I’m an introvert so I understand the tendency to want alone time. The problem is letting it go on for months. I know where that has led me mentally in the past and it’s nowhere good.

Prolonged isolation while dealing with pain and depression–That’s not a way to live, it’s a way to die. Nothing good comes out going it alone, longterm. I know from experience that depression does not discriminate. Whether you are naturally positive-minded or not, you can still be crippled. It can bring any of us down to an all time low. And what’s worse is the depression tricks you into believing that things will never get better, which is not the case.

Truth is– I’ve become accustomed to there always being some level of pain going on in my body. I’ve accepted it’s just “how it’s going to be”. In turn, I find myself thinking along these lines: Well if I’m going to be in pain anyways…why not be spending time with my mom while I’m in pain. It’s gonna be there anyways! And If it’s not going anywhere, well then, I’m gonna go somewhere and do what I want!

It’s sad to say it out loud, but you do get used to the pain to some degree. You figure out your new normal with the pain. You learn what you can and cannot do through trial and error. And you just keep on keepin’ on! And you do it in your own unique way, because we are all different.

If putting on a little makeup makes you feel a little more human and gives you that extra boost to tackle the day, do it! If running out to grab a Starbucks elevates your day and gives you something to look forward to, then do it! If you find comfort in writing or blogging, do it! If you feel at peace around animals, dog sit for a friend or volunteer at a shelter. If it brings you joy, gives you something to look forward to, gets you out of bed in the morning, makes you glad you are alive— focus your mind on it & make it a priority!

One hobby of mine is re-painting old furniture just to refresh the style. I love doing projects like this around the house. I feel like I’m contributing to our work on the house, I’m being productive and the physical act of painting is so very calming to me. So, Instead of sitting on the couch stuck to a heating pad for a sliver of pain relief– I strap the heating pad to my back and get to work painting. If I need to take breaks (so I don’t make the pain worse) so be it! Yeah, the project may take longer than usual, but I’m okay with that. It brings me joy, so it just means the joy will last longer! Win-win in my book!

Guys, what it all boils down to is this:

Purposefully find joy in your life despite the presence of your physical pain. And we are talking about chronic pain in particular. Since we don’t always have the choice to live without the pain…We have to find a way to live with it!

So even on those days where I wake up hurting, I know I can get through it. It’s always within my power to just make a conscious decision to be fed up and make my life worth living again.

I want, no….I deserve to thrive, not just exist. And you deserve it too!

 

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