Recently, a young man contacted me seeking assistance with his efforts in attempting to cope with chronic pain. In his search on how to cope with chronic pain, he was simply looking for someone to listen, perhaps offer a few suggestions and provide support relative to the ongoing struggle living life with chronic pain presents. He also desired to find the life tools to adapt to the struggle and maintain meaning in his life. It is a heartbreaking conversation to have with someone who should be enjoying a career, having the choice of raising a family and enjoying the many opportunities available to most in his age bracket. Instead, many chronic pain patients are on disability, unable to have a family, losing friendships and most importantly, feeling lost with little sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. For him, this is all due to an unfortunate accident that immediately altered his life journey and personal development. This same conversation has taken place with him before, but he has remained frozen in place and unable to move forward.
If we aren’t careful and don’t mourn the losses we have to face, we can get stuck on hold and not find a way to cope. Some of us just can’t stop dwelling on the negative and become psychologically paralyzed thus unable to develop even the most basic coping mechanism enabling patients to move forward.
What Can We Do To Take Some Control Back?
- Do allow yourself time to mourn your losses but limit the time you allow yourself to do this, knowing that to begin your new journey you must get beyond this critical stage.
- Learn techniques of things you can do to help take some control back like reducing inflammation through addressing food and drug sensitivities – MRT testing for food and Genelex DNA testing for medications.
- Find a way to allow your emotions to be expressed to help cleanse your soul – therapist, writing, talking, support group, exercising in a manner safe with your condition – what is a better fit for you
- Learn to accept significant changes with family and friends – you will most likely be continued to be cared about but not all will remain in your original circle. Reasons for slipping away from you vary from you not being able to keep up with the lifestyle you shared, to lack of understanding, to even finding your circumstances too painful and sad to be around. Someday in time, may you find it in your heart to forgive this abandonment and find the peace you deserve.
- Surround yourself with others that do understand and you can open up with.
- Find an outlet to help you refocus your life, one that you can enjoy – possibly writing, music, volunteering, or whatever fits your circumstance and is safe, productive and distracting!
- Find a way, if possible, to move your body despite your restrictions. The pool, yoga, gentle exercises that won’t make things worse but can help to strengthen both your body and soul.
Learning to cope with a chronic illness is not a picnic. It takes determination and a will to try to move on despite the horror, pain, losses, and the unknown you face. Yet, we have to negotiate and find tools that help us to live. We each experience different things, but share the need to find our way and reinvent our purpose and meaning. It isn’t easy but we have to keep reminding ourselves, this is our one life to live.
May life be kind to you,
Ellen Lenox Smith
Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.