Whatever its type or origin, pain is personal. I’m talking right up IN YOUR FACE personal.
Why would the management of that pain be any different? We are all created differently. There are no two people on earth who are exactly alike and our bodies don’t respond the same way to pain. Likewise, they don’t respond the same way to interventions for that pain.
I know I can’t even begin to understand what suffering others may be experiencing or how it impacts their lives. Each person’s pain is different. How they choose to deal with that pain is a very personal decision that has to be tailored to their specific needs. Sometimes people forget that.
The internet is a wonderful thing, and there are some great sources of information out there, but it can also be an unfriendly place at times. My heart has been hurting lately for some of my fellow chronic pain bloggers, and if I could write them a letter, here are some things I would say:
To anyone who is dealing with chronic pain: You are so brave! I know that some mornings it takes everything you have to get out of the bed. I know that sometimes you dread getting up because you know the day ahead of you will be filled with pain. I know the weird symptoms you get can be scary, and that at times, it can all be a little overwhelming. But here’s what else I know — you get up, you do what you have to do, you find joy where you can find it, and you press on. This is true bravery, whether you feel brave or not. In addition, you have strength that you may not even realize you have. Don’t let those voices inside your head tell you any different.
To the person who needs opiates to manage the pain and feels guilty or feels you need to defend yourself: I hear your pain. Please know that you’re not alone. Stop beating yourself up. You and your doctor know what you need to get through the day. This is your decision. Don’t let others tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to feel better, and don’t feel you have to explain yourself to others.
To the “mean girls” who like to belittle those of us who choose to use lifestyle modifications instead of medication to manage our pain: I understand that feeling horrible all the time can make you angry. I also understand that sometimes well-meaning people want to give you advice about what worked for them, and sometimes that advice is just not appreciated. I’ve been there. The bottom line is, though, that if we are part of the chronic pain community, we have enough hurt in our lives. We don’t need additional negativity. Let’s be kind to one another.
To anyone who feels alone in their suffering: Please know that you’re not alone. There is a huge community of loving, caring people in the chronic illness world. We are only a mouse-click away at any given time.
To all the wonderful, positive bloggers I’ve “met” so far: Thank you for sharing your journey. You educate, inspire, and provide support. You truly are an amazing group of people, and I feel immensely blessed to be in your company!
Pain management is tricky. Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s not pain removal; it’s just management. It’s extremely personal and you have to find what works for you. I share my experiences in the hope that people can find something here that will help them, but I understand what works for me might not work for others.
If you are part of an online Chronic Pain Support Group and would like to share your link in the comments, I’d love for you to do so.
As Ellen Degeneres always says at the end of her show , “Be kind to one another.” I’d also add, “Be kind to yourself!”