By Kerry Smith

I had to turn it off. I felt my blood pressure rising with each and every tweet, facebook post, newspaper article, and tv journalist show. It was then and there that I had to take control of what my environment was telling me and switch it off. So I walked outside, sat in the sun, breathed deeply, and worked to place my mind in a different place, a different world.

Kerry Smith

It’s the political situation of our country. It feels hopeless. Our world is in pain and it is now as if those in control don’t give a rip. And for me, it is such a justice thing and I feel deeply about what is happening in our country and in our world. Understand, I too am a theologian and I believe in God, but do not throw down simple answers about God and the situation we find ourselves. I threw out the “God is in control” thingy about 16 years ago when my battle with chronic pain started. Sure, I believe in God but sometimes God expects us to use our brains and our bodies to make a difference in our world. It is a justice thing and for me, as I said earlier, I feel deeply!

Herein lies the issue for many of us who suffer with chronic pain; we are affected by the circumstances of our world to the place where it can affect our ability to fight chronic pain. Make no mistake, I want to do something about the injustice in our world. I fight the fight of the CDC and CMS in their new guidelines for chronic pain. I fight the fight of guaranteeing insurance coverage, which I personally believe is a right of every American. I fight the fight of a political system that continues to be increasingly less concerned about our environment and the “least of these” among us. And? And I love my family, support their growing issues, try to beat disability, try to beat Adhesive Arachnoiditis AND? Overload! Pain! Chronic Pain!

I am my own worst enemy. We are our own worst enemies. Not only do we struggle with what internally and externally is going on, we eventually will physically do something that will result in pain flares and setbacks and a ticket on the continuing roller coaster ride that is called Chronic Pain.

Disability means the inability to Disengage, right? The inability to Disengage from our environment. The inability to Disengage from pain. The inability to Disengage from the crap that does us harm. The inability to Disengage in from anything chronic. The inability to Disengage from our brains. We are wounded to the core and our wounded world only adds to our woundedness and the inability to Disengage.

Dr. Beth Darnall has two books among others she has written that are most helpful in dealing with our mental battle with pain; “Less Pain/Fewer Pills” and  “The Opioid-Free Pain Relief Kit”.  Our world may be “going to hell in a hand basket” but it is okay to mentally disengage from the world and the injustice that is happening and to develop boundaries that keep us all sane as we fight the fight we have been given. In case no one has told you this today, if you are suffering from anything chronic, IT IS CHRONIC!

We do not need anyone in our circle to affirm our Chronic-ness which means what? It means that you and I have accepted this struggle and have to process it accordingly. It means that the computer between our ears has been altered due to this chronic-ness, and it is perfectly fine for you and me to let someone else fight the good fight or rather, for you and I to choose where we will give our energy. We HAVE to DISENGAGE from that which makes our chronic pain worse which, is absolutely okay!

May it be so even for me!

Kerry Smith is a former minister, a professional artist, and has suffered with chronic pain for over 15 years. He has lectured and written on the topic of chronic pain for several years. Here’s a link to his art studio website.

Authored by: Kerry Smith

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Thank you very much Fay Leah! I’m thrilled for your info reply and will check it all out. I can’t wait to get some and try it! I want this to be my year to try going without opioids. Wish me luck!


@Leah, I’m desperately trying to find Kratom. Where do you get it?
I want to try it out. But don’t know where to get it.
I found an online company in Cali. but am reluctant to give my billing acct info…don’t know who to trust.
Any suggestions ? Thanks, Maureen

Rita Kimbel

I was stripped of my much needed pain med and been given a new one that is an oxycodone in capsule form
It takes 3 hours to start working and then I get dizzy with nausea and then 4 hours later I go back into pain mode. It’s neurogenic pain that was being treated with oxycontin in high milligrams. Spinal cord injury 14 years ago , have neurostimulator implanted to curb pain, I was living and functioning well for a 56 year old in this condition, now I’m suffering 24/7. Thanks to CDC REGULATIONS

Jean Price

I know politics affect us all…yet I wish we could concentrate on just the issues, and NOT the people involved. (Seeing some of these comments makes me want to disengage from here!) I just can’t seem to handle any of this escalating chaos and all the meanness of politics getting so personal that has been at the center of so much lately. Plus the sadness of seeing many relationships I know of which have been damaged by the widening political chasm and all the fighting in our country breaks my heart!

Don’t get me wrong…I’m certainly not condoning either side! I both agree and disagree with things each have said and done!! I just feel being totally supportive of either…to the condemnation of others…is much more scary and has more potential for damage than whoever could be in office…either now or later!! If we the people can’t be civil enough to each other AND to those we disagree with…to stay united to resolve the issues, even when we may not see things the same…we all lose! Then it’s certainly no ONE person’s fault….but our own…all of us! Instead of taking a side AGAINST….I wonder what would happen if we just DEMANDED they ALL work TOGETHER on the issues, reasonably and courteously…to improve our country, instead of tearing it apart? (And IF we all helped by not ADDING fuel to any of the personal dissent?!) After all, we pay their salaries, don’t we?! And we have much more to lose, it seems! Since politics is fickle…and they could all be best buddies at some future point!!


I agree… “President Trump” is an oxymoron if there ever was one! Now we’ve got Chris Christie “solving” the opioid addiction problem. God help us if we need our pain meds!

I just happened upon this post and was literally shocked! I posted a similar comment on my blog a few weeks ago!!! And I agree…every tweet, FB post, national headline, anything that has to do with our present state of this country has physically challenged me. At first I thought it was just the “weather” but as the days have become weeks and now months of this administration, I realized my chronic pain worsens with ANYTHING regarding Trump. I finally unsubscribed from all political reports and my husband updates me on anything worth knowing. I saw an ad for a mug with the quote: “I hate it when I wake up and Trump in still President.” That may not be the exact wording, but it’s how I feel.

Been Aiken Too Longfellow

I am a 58 year old, 20 year chronic pain patient. I WAS still working until the CDC blackmail, I mean “guideline” and “conversion chart” along with “scrubbers” to enforce the misguideline forced my pain management doctor to reduce my one and only opioid medication to be prescribed daily from 100 milligrams per day down to 20 milligrams per day.I have been on the same medication for over 20 years with NO OTHER medication prescribed to me.I have been on the same type opioid medication AND daily dosage for over FIVE years and foresaw no increase necessary. I can’t work much, I can’t sleep, I am irritable and in constant sever pain! I understand that millions of chronic pain patients are totally disabled but, their health condition WILL worsen just as mine is doing. I had my annual doctor checkup (full examination) two days ago. My long time doctor asked why I thought my blood pressure was up to 165 over 110 and my pulse was 87 beats per minute. I have a long record of a low pulse at between 65 and 75 beats per minute. I am, or was still fairly physically fit…Still very active…..working and earning my own living. As far as blood pressure I have been at 120 to 130 over 70/75 or so for decades. I explained to him that the one and only opioid medication for pain relief had been reduced by 80%….daily since Christmas, 2016. He was quite aware of the CDC blackmail, I mean “guideline” since he was the one that recommended a pain management clinic to me a little over 20 years ago, I have had the same physician for over 30 years. This man knows me and my health. He was very concerned and after a blood test, the results were STILL in the normal range after a page long blood panel screen. My doctor KNEW what my current health problems with elevated blood pressure and higher pulse was caused by! I weighed 6 pounds LESS than the previous weight at 190 pounds, six feet tall..My trusted physician knows why my health WILL decline but, is helpless to help me with the CDC “guideline”.of insufficient medication due to 2 failed lower back surgeries 20 odd years ago.Now, I will be started on blood pressure control medication. I DO NOT NEED. MORE medicine just because the CDC “guideline” has crucified ALL opioid medication users, i.e. non cancer chronic pain patients. How about the CDC placing health condition treatment due to chronic pain and the prescribing of sufficient medication BACK into the experienced hands of our physicians who KNOW us? We ALL have been found guilty, of opioid exploitation VERY unjustly. How many people need commit suicide until the misguided effort of the CDC realizes that removing the availability of opioid medications WILL NOT influence the way some people “think”. Of course that is NOT the goal of CDC. The thought is that if needed opioid medication prescribing is reduced, there will… Read more »


Kerry, you nailed it. This is what I am struggling with right now. I know that the elections this fall made my pain much worse. It is so hard being someone with my values and hopes for our country to not get upset with all that is occurring right now, and almost daily. I feel like I need to put my head in the sand in order to survive. But if I do, as soon as I let the news and world back in, up goes the pain big time. I am 69 and could say I will just let the younger generation deal with it all, but darn, my generation made so many positive changes for our country and now I see them being torn away. Picking your battles, as you stated, is part of the answer. And I know I need to turn the news off most of the time and reduce my time on social media in order reduce this stress that is contributing to my pain. Now, I just need to take that step and do it! Thanks for nudging in this direction, Kerry. My body thanks you.

After a decade of living with chronic pain, I’ve learned the necessity, personally, to “disengage.” Sometimes, I think I must live like Buddha just to survive.


Very well written and very much to the point and I agree. Today’s political climate is not in favor of people who suffer from chronic pain. For those of us who follow politics, the stress of what’s going on in the world effects our pain levels severely. Since January 20th our Straights have become more Dire. Tom Price now being the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Jeff Sessions now being the Attorney General of the United States. Both these men have come out openly against both Opioid Pain Medications and Medical Marijuana.
So now, we all are afraid of losing our medications, doctors or health insurance even more, and that stress weighs on our pain levels.
Although I’m not religious at all and don’t really know if I actually still believe in God, I’m glad that some people can find Solis and relief by using their faith. My feelings are that we all find effective relief in our own ways and the religious way just doesn’t work for me.

I am not sure that “disengaging ” is the answer . How can anything g he solved if we all disengage ? It is of course pharmaceutical, and government. . Pain patients have been ” patient ” but enough is enough. … where is our “fellow man, physicians, willing to stand up, to take care of patients ??

Jean Price

Interesting thoughts! This article definitely gives a fresh perspective to some of my own feelings!! I really like both the word and the idea of “disengaging…setting boundaries for ourselves!! Actually, that’s very healthy, whether you have persistent pain or not!! To me, the disengaging would be about opting out of the futility of fighting against uncontrollable goals! (Working on uncontrollable goals is always akin to “touching the Ark”…and it WILL kill you…just as the story in the Bible says the men who tried to “steady” the Ark were killed! There’s a piece of hyper-responsibility that leaks into this also! When we think we are the only ones responsible “enough” to do what needs to be done, in our personal lives and in the world!! And we end up discounting or minimizing God’s job in all of it! Food for thought!) I also heartily dislike ALL injustice…and man’s inhumanity to man, at ANY level, will really get me riled up! I realize life isn’t “fair”! Yet it seems it could be a lot more fair than it is…on many fronts!! Sadly, there seems to be more injustice and unfairness lately, playing out in ways that impact us all as individuals…even in the basics of our daily lives! As we see happening now with the current nonsensical guidelines for pain care (read: non-treatment of pain and banning opioids!)… and all the deceitful information and hype about the non-existent opioid “epidemic”! Plus all the misleading and skewed statistics about problems that ARE NOT even RELATIVE to PAIN CARE…like the increase in ILLEGAL drug use, drug addiction, and overdose deaths! It seems injustice and inhumanity have ALSO found a SECURE place even in the lofty halls and the purer ethics guiding government in this country! This truly both upsets and amazes me! Not so much that it’s happened…but that NO ONE in government seems to be fighting it! Especially when it is so blatantly wrong…medically, logically, and morally!! Yet, instead of questioning this….most seem instead to go along with all the craziness…with many avidly supporting and adding to it!! Unreal!! I don’t understand why!! (I know we all blame greed and money and power…yet these are more like symptoms, not the “disease” itself…or core issue here, I think! So trying to define what’s really at play is difficult!!) So, what HAS happened there…and what about the “mighty and the few”…those who would often appear throughout history, surfacing when needed…to help keep this country on a more just and even keel. Those who had honesty, integrity, and compassion for everyone, including the oppressed (that would be us now, too!)! And had those values as their battle flag!?! And justice for all as their battle cry! Where are they now?! Perhaps, like so many have said, this all DOES have something to do with the general reluctance now, as a nation, to let God in on the daily issues that face us all…and an even bigger reluctance to seek His help when we ourselves are confused… Read more »

Janis Gustafson

I enjoyed your article!! I also have a chronic illness and pain! As a pastor’s wife for 25 years my love and growth in Jesus has spiritually filled my life , along with 8 children. 6 are born to me and 2 are biracial chosen. I am a woodcarver and wildlife and Indian Cultures are my favorite exacussions! You have written. So sincerely about the balance e we try to achieve in our challenged lives!!! Thank you and GOD bless!!!!!

scott michaels

Hey im fighting kaiser?
I’m not accepting thier weaning. They denied my request to get the medication they have been giving new for 5 years and now half and soon 20 % of needed dose. I am in hell. But I fight on. Now dept of health and Nyman services to appeal. IS THERE ANYBODY DEALING WITH KAISER ALSO. I NEED NAMES AND SUPPORT. THEY CAN FIGHT US INDIVIDUALLY AND WIN . BUT NOT AS AS A LARGE GROUP. YOU CANT FIGHT THE PEOPLE


It’s great to see you back! And this is a great post and reminder of letting go (and Let God!) :~)
I have greatly disengaged from the political arena/TV simply because of the anxiety, stress and tension it brings to my body, hence giving me more pain. Once in a while I will ask a well informed friend to ‘fill me in’.
But, whether it is that issue or dealing with the insensitive human beings in my life…I’ve taught myself to disengage. I see it as a ‘healthy for me’ thing. Although, disengaging is against who the person I truly am.
Be well warrior…and thank you for all that you do on our behalf.


I agree about disengaging. When you’re in the throes of constant pain, there are some things and some toxic people you JUST have to get out of your life or walk away from. However, disability to me means “no longer having the ability,” Not just re:working, but in a whole lot of other areas of life. It means limitations that are set on me, NOT those I have chosen!

Bob Schubring

The insight I got into this same struggle, is that the false religion of Force is to blame for our addiction to anger. Just as a farmer cannot milk a cow with a pair of tweezers, a hairdresser cannot trim my hair with a vacuum sweeper nor a milking machine. When we choose a tool that is useless for a task, we fail. The basic need that sick people have, is to recover. When we lack skill or knowledge of how to cause recovery to happen to ourselves, or to someone whom we love, we need a source of such skills and knowledge. But here’s where Anger Addiction fouls up that process:. Skill does not happen by accident. People acquire skill because they choose to acquire it. When we curse those who bless us, by lashing out with threats and intimidation, the fear that induces, drives away those who might otherwise be of help. 90 years ago, the Meininger Clinic in Kansas got word of a pacifist community, from which nobody had ever been committed to a state hospital for the mentally ill. The community, who were of the Mennonite branch of the Anabaptists, seemed worthy of study. Was there something to their beliefs that immunized them to mental disorder? Upon closer examination, the Mennonite community proved to have about the same morbidity of various psychiatric disorders as anywhere else. There were the occasional folks with schizophrenia who had to double check what they heard or saw, to be certain that they didn’t dream it. Pathological anxiety was found there. Major depression, ditto. Bipolar disorder too. That Mennonite community was as likely to have it’s members go bonkers, as any other group of people, anywhere. But something was different. Because the Mennonites have a deep-seated religious conviction, never to use force against another person​, a funny thing happened when Mennonites went frankly psychotic. The psychotic Mennonites didn’t think to use violence against the people around them. This caused a funnier thing to happen in the community. Nobody was afraid that a psychotic neighbor would cause them harm. So, the community never bothered​ asking Kansas authorities for help with the custody of their psychotic members. They provided what care they could. (In 1920, that meant a lot of prayer. Pharmacotherapy wasn’t very effective back then, for most psychoses.). End result:. Nobody from that community was committed to a hospital. Applying that lesson to our anger-addicted nation is instructive. We have snooping experts at many three-letter agencies, with great skill at finding hidden money and taking it away from us by force. Snoops are almost as effective at taking pain medication away from us, by force. But what none of these​ snoops has ever considered, is a way to take disease away by force. Until that happens, we are stuck, trying to get help, by asking for it. And the only way to help with creating enough such help, is to give help to those who will acquire the skills and knowledge… Read more »