Of course there are levels of severity when it comes to chronic pain and it can affect everyone differently- the person who is suffering and those around them. There are many challenges when it comes to living with chronic pain such as flare ups, multiple doctor visits, tests & medications, unable to do certain tasks around the house, people getting annoyed by your complaints, doctors not believing your pain levels, the list goes on and I’m sure you can add to the list as well. Not only are you dealing with this pain often, but you have to deal with the side effects as well.
Some things I have learned along the way I would like to share them with you. Although I consider my case minor. I deal with back and neck pain from a car accident, which include random flare ups and muscle spasms, unable to lift heavy things, unable to sit and stand for long periods of time and constantly having to stretch. My advice may or may not help you, but I encourage you to keep an open mind and share this post with a friend who may benefit from this read.
My biggest advice is to journal. Journal around your pain or disability and the narrative around it (the way you talk about the condition to yourself and others). Work on changing the vocabulary you use when you are talking about it and switch to more positive wording. Step out of the victim role and mentality. Instead of saying things like, I can’t do anything I love to do anymore because of the pain, say something like, I know it’s been hard to do the thing I loved to do, but I am doing my best to manage the pain and one day I will be able to enjoy those things even if it’s just a fraction of it. (i.e you loved hiking before your injury, but now it’s hard to get out there, so instead you choose to walk a short distance in a lovely park or trail.) Do your best to find the positive in things. Be sure to make writing affirmations into your journal daily as well.
Second piece of advice is to be your own advocate to the medical professionals. Educate yourself around your injury or disability, understand which tests are for what, what medications are actually necessary, and when you should seek a second opinion. Speaking up for yourself and asking questions without doubt or fear is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. I am a medical professional so I am always cautious and keep myself well informed when it comes to my health because I will not be a lab rat or allow them to play the guessing game or order unnecessary tests. We must realize that doctors are human like us and can make mistakes so it’s important to be a second set of eyes to overlook your care, but at the same time a lot of medical care is about money. Some doctors will try to bill your insurance, or you, for tests or medications that could be avoided. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions. If you have someone close with a medical background to help you be a second set of ears, that would be great as well.
My third piece of advice is for my faith believing friends. Pray! When you pray about what you’re going through, you suddenly don’t feel alone because you know God is listening. Giving your worries, fears, anxieties and doubts to God and leaving them at His feet with full faith that He will indeed take care of you, will release so much pressure and negative feelings from your mind. Whether you pray to God or the universe, you cannot deal with this pain and emotional traumas alone. You have to give someone else the load to carry while you breathe and enjoy the life you have however you can.
My last piece of advice for now is to try your very best to keep doing the things you love even if it’s not exactly how it used to be or find something new that you enjoy doing.The point here is to enjoy your new life however you can and to keep yourself busy/distracted from focusing on your pain. I notice when I am not doing anything but sitting on the couch, I tend to focus more on the pain I am experiencing so instead I force myself to do something more productive like read a book, get some writing done or call a friend or relative to chat. Feeling sorry for yourself that you can no longer do yxz will only amplify your suffering. Again, let’s change the narrative here! When you are happy and enjoying life however you can, your loved ones surrounding you will notice and it will lift them up as well. Keep a positive attitude as much as you can!
So that’s it for my top advice for living with chronic pain and/or disability. I hope that you found this post helpful and can incorporate some or all of it into your life. If no one told you lately, I will like to tell you that you are stronger and braver than you think!
Now go be great!