WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE LIVED WITH CHRONIC PAIN FOR ABOUT 20 YEARS?
Posted On October 25, 2021
As I was going through my previous posts today, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy after reading all the encouraging comments. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Your kindness reminds me that the world is still a beautiful place.
When I look back at the past 20 years that I have lived with chronic pain, a few lessons that I learnt along the way come to mind, and I thought that I should share them with you so that I may be able to illuminate your path and give you an idea of the things that might happen or are already happening in your life, and how to go about some of the challenges.
I have learned to prioritize selfcare. Living with chronic pain will often leave you feeling like a burden to those who love you and care for you. Eventually, these feelings lead you to forcing yourself to do things to please them so that you do not appear as a burden. This might be in the form of showing up at an event when you’re too tired or too sick for it, or keeping up with chores that you are not able to do, to avoid being a burden. I have learnt that caring for myself ultimately makes me less of a burden. BY caring for myself, I mean putting my health as a priority above anything else, so that I can my best self for those who love me, which in turn means that I end up being less burdening. I have learnt to use the “spoonies” theory to make my days more bearable. This theory describes your energy as a chronically ill person in the form of spoons, which run out the more you use them. Therefore, you must use the little energy you have on things that add to your wellbeing, then you can have some energy left for those you love. If you prioritize others before your wellbeing, you will slowly deteriorate with time, making it harder and harder to be there for your loved ones.
Make a list of what you love, and prioritize it. It sounds like an easy task, but when you slow down and look at what you spend your limited and precious energy/time on, you realize that the things you love do not make the list. It’s easy to get lost in the flow of things. Unfortunately, the stress of being in pain most days if not every day, leaves your mind and soul starving for nourishment, which can only be found in doing the things you love, and spending time with the people who you love and love you.
Eventually pain breaks your mind. This is a lesson I have learnt the hard way. I have always valued my mind a lot, and I never thought that I would one day end up having mental illness. However, the journey of chronic pain is a tedious one. So far, I have had major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety that was crippling, functional neurological disorder, and recently, bipolar 2, which changed into bipolar 1. Needless to say, my soul feels tired most of the time. I am not sure I know who I am anymore, because I feel like pieces of me are chipped off by every time and my mind feels broken. But do not give up hope. Look for the rainbows in daily life. There is always one. They are just harder to see on most days, but when you do see one, hold on to it in your mind and carry it with you every day until you forget it, then look for another silver lining.