Happiness is Always Just Around the Corner

Happiness is Always Just Around the Corner

By Jessica Martin

“Be careful of a destination addiction-a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, and with the next partner.  Until you give up that idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” – Abraham Hicks

Displaying 412bedb9b681bddfb894f1c77cd666eaFinally I have found a term that describes the biggest thing I am working on within myself: I am a destination addict.

I have gotten a lot better about being grateful for what I have right now and try very hard to not project into the future but I am finding it very difficult.  Logically, I am very aware that happiness can only come at first from within.  If I am not happy with myself then no person, place, job, or dream will completely satisfy me.  If you have followed my blog for long enough than you know my biggest dream above all is to have a family that is healthy and happy and to grant my daughter with a sibling.  I never planned the miscarriages I had or how life has turned out the way it has but twenty years ago I thought I would never be a mother or be able to do anything because of chronic pain. We just do not know what the future holds.

It is very scary to think of the future especially when you feel part of you is a destination addict.  When chronic pain was at it’s worst and I truly was at my rock bottom, I remember saying to myself: “If I could just read again without thinking about pain or write or even go for a walk, I would be happy.”  Do not get me wrong, had I not learned how to manage chronic pain naturally and accept my condition I would not be where I am today: I do not even know if I would be here at all.

I read a lot, I write, I am a mother, I have a degree, I am working towards achieving my goal to help as many people as I can through my writing and yet I still worry about the future and this morning I was stuck (not literally) but I felt stuck in bed as a destination addict.

Two people yesterday asked me if I was pregnant, I miscarried months ago but did not feel the need to tell everyone I know I had a miscarriage.  A girl from my high school saw me at the playground with my daughter and said: “Congrats Jess!”  I had no idea what she was talking about and then realized she believed I was still pregnant.  It is never easy when things you thought would turn out how you dreamed or planned but we find our way through and personally my dreams and goals seem to always come to fruition when I least expect them to.

The National Pain Report is a site that has been kind enough to publish some of my articles.  The founder of this amazing platform asked me to read a piece written about catastrophizing.  The definition found in Webster’s dictionary  of catastrophizing is this: Verb: to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is.

When I first accepted chronic pain and learned how to manage pain naturally I learned how to stop catastrophizing, however I was using my own definition of the term catastrophize.  My main goal when I left the Mayo Clinic was to practice the techniques I learned to manage pain naturally and one of the hardest things to do was to find distractions so that I stopped thinking about pain non stop.

Many, if not most people with chronic pain think about the future and worry (as I did) that their dreams and hopes for their future will never be achieved because of their invisible illness.   I used to think/catastrophize: “I will never be a mom, never have a job, never have a family.  My life is totally over because of chronic pain.  Why should I even be alive??”  Personally, catastrophizing for me meant  thinking about pain non stop and projecting into the future to the point that I no longer wanted to live.  I have found that when I catastrophize about pain, I have very adverse affects.  I find/found that my pain levels increased, my depression increased, my anxiety increased and I thought about going back on medication more, and I started repeating in my mind the phrase: “I can’t do this!!!”

When I looked up the clear definition of catastrophizing this morning, I understood more why people with chronic pain do not want to hear that phrase.

If I was still looking for a cure or chronic pain was in total control of my life, I would feel so much worse as a patient if anyone especially a doctor told me I was catastrophizing my pain.  My reality then and it was/is real was that I was in pain twenty-four seven.  I wanted to take my own life and if my dad or anyone I cared for said I was making my situation worse than it was, I would have felt more defeated and alone than I already had.  I see the term: catastrophizing differently now because I am in a very different place with my invisible illness than I was fifteen years ago.

I started thinking today about the problems I am facing in my life right now, none of them having to do with chronic pain and by definition I think I may be catastrophizing my problems.  This is not to say that I am not allowed to be sad or have moments of worry but I do not give up even when I am forcing myself out of bed just to exercise when usually that is the best part of my day.

I do not want to project too far into the future because I have no idea what is going to happen within my life.  All I have is today.  All you have is today.  Does that mean you are not allowed to feel the way you feel?  No.  I am asking all of us, myself included to just try and focus on the here and now.  Things are going to fall into place for all of us.  I do not know how or when but they will.  We are all fighting battles the outside world knows nothing about.

None of us are alone.

Editor’s Note: Jessica Martin is a 34-year old stay at home mom with a three year old daughter and lives in New Jersey. She was severely injured in a bicycle accident 20 years ago when she was only 14 and has battled chronic pain since. She blogs on chronic pain and you can read more of her work at noonegetsflowersforchronicpain.com. She will continue to contribute to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Jessica Martin

There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Susan Shelley at 7:50 pm

    You have voiced something that was a recent discussion with my younger sister (by five years). I have lived most of my life with pain. I was rushed to UBA with 2 bleeding aneurysms in my brain and lived to tell about it. Yet I was only diagnosed with Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome w/Hypermobility 2 years ago. I am now 55. My sister also has had problems that fall under VEDS so I was very concerned and asked her to be checked. After having problems with a hip replacement she went. 2 months ago she was diagnosed with EDS and probable VEDS. She has been a hot mess. This past week I went for a visit. She asked me how did I handle all of this. I told her every morning when I woke up I thanked the Lord for another day. I took time savoring every bit of every meal I ate. I sat on my porch and took in and enjoyed every color of every flower blooming in my yard. And when I went to bed at night I thanked the Lord for another day.

  2. AnG!e at 2:30 pm

    Jean Price, Sherrie Harris, YES, YES, YES, YES! THANK YOU FOR SAYING EXACTLY WHAT I’M LIVING, THINKING AND FEELING AFTER READING THIS!

  3. Kris at 8:29 pm

    this is wonderful..I too keep looking forward assuming soon in my future I will find pain free days…this comes with a bit of disappointment sometimes as for the past 3 years I have said this summer is going to be the one! I am finally going to be able to get past this and enjoy my favorite time of year!

    summers come and go and I hurt…so I keep up the good fight..and yes I have bad days and really bad days..I try to laugh and help others laugh in a group I belong to for my chronic illness.

    We have pain, We pray together we vent out together , cry together and yes Laugh together and I sit smiling as I write this to you!

    I do believe we must try not to give up , We must try and find at least 1 thing to be great full for everyday even if it is something stupid and little…I thank God for it….

    I try to fight for awareness..boy this has been a hard one..stuck on my couch and trying to fight through a computer for awareness…but I will not stop …we need to be heard.

    Thank you for writing your story . We will all get through this . We will all have a end . Nothing is forever..and even in my 11 year journey it has been all full of pain and ever changing …the past 3 years have been the worse…I think I hope , I pray , A break will come to me in my future.

    I am still looking for a cure. I have to . I can not accept being housebound stuck on my couch.

    hugs and prayers to you

  4. Sherrie Harris at 4:18 pm

    Thank you Jean Price. You spoke my whole being right now. THANK YOU. I wish and pray I could meditate my pain away or tell myself which I do everyday that’s it’s going to be a great day as long as I am breathing but my mind has so many pain signals going to it from so many places it doesn’t work for me. So yes I take pain medication am I a addict? No I am a chronic pain and fatigue patient and will be for the rest of my life.

  5. Zyp Czyk at 1:23 pm

    Many suggestions for handling pain and avoiding catastrophizing involve quieting the mind and becoming more present in the here and now. For me, this can be counterproductive.

    Here and now is exactly where my pain is, and its neurochemical signals to my brain are constantly clamoring for attention. When I stop moving (into the unknown future, but moving none the less) and my body no longer receives stimulation from outside itself, the volume of the incoming pain signals increases unopposed until they become unbearable.

    I have had to modify many such pain treatment modalities on my own to make them useful. No therapist (physical or otherwise) can know what works best for each individual’s pain, so in the end, we all have to take control of our pain treatment and decide for ourselves what’s helpful and what’s harmful in our particular situation

  6. Mark Ibsen MD at 11:32 am

    Awesome insight.
    Happy is a declaration.
    Thank you.

  7. Jean Price at 9:10 am

    Jessica…because of your article and also because I’m a word person…plus I believe this word addiction is overused and over applied and gives such negative vibes…I looked it up in an old dictionary! Oddly what I found surprised me! It comes from root words meaning to devote or dedicate! How did such positive “roots” grow such negative results…discrimination, dismay, dread, and society’s judgement? Then it says to “apply habitually” or to habituate”! It goes further to say that addict is “generally used with a reflexive pronoun and usually in a bad sense (followed by ‘to’)”!! Their example is “to addict one’s self to intemperance”. Hmm, guess that was easier than saying a substance…they used a BEHAVIOR! And the crowning glory was their definition of addiction…”the act of devoting or giving up one’s self to a practice; the state of being devoted; devotion.”

    I have found the older dictionaries often give us insight into the underlying issues and stigmas of words and all the heaped on innuendos society fashions over time. At first glance, this word seems to be something positive we have turned into negative by our applications. Yet the show stopper may be that last part about “GIVING UP ONE’S SELF…”. Anytime we give up ourselves, we give up the core of our being, I think. If what we give ourselves up to is harmful, then we end up sacrificing our lives to that harm, to the damaging consequences, and ultimately to the judgment of those who believe our cause or reason didn’t justify our actions. I wonder if your choice of terminology leaves you and your situation open to much unwarranted judgement…since you seem to be talking about your personal pursuit of happiness, and not the destination of becoming addicted to medication for your pain! The quote you used is interesting, yet changes the impact when used by a person with pain, doesn’t it?! I have to wonder why you chose these signature words to describe yourself! For emphasis, for perhaps an unconscious finger pointing at those who chose to medicate their pain (yet also use various “natural” modalities, too), or for where you are in your own happiness journey, or some other perhaps obscure reason even you might not be able to verbalize. Constant pursuit of happiness isn’t a flaw in my book of life! It’s human! As long as, like you said, we understand it’s today’s happiness we are working on. There is always a fine line between planning, obsessing, worrying, wondering, analyzing, mapping out our actions, dreaming our dreams, and that other word I refuse to use…since it’s a non word, not even recognized by spell check…you know the one that starts with a C and is supposed to define some obsessive focusing on real or imagined issues! The love and need of comfort, happiness, joy, purpose, a positive future, good outcomes, understanding, loving relationships, growth, and reasonable function…these aren’t unworthy issues to think about or pursue. Yet again, we only have the moment, the now, this very day to use for all our needs and it’s important to lay down uncontrollable goals or goals that don’t require today’s action. Living with the mindset of ENOUGH is difficult for any one, regardless of pain interference! Especially with unresolved grief issues from the changes our illness or accidents brought us. And yes, I also believe things have a way of working out….we do what we can when we can and and that’s all we can do. In fact, we do really well for the most part…but we might be able to do a little better with some pointers, not the infamous “guidelines”, some information on coping tools and grief, not labels and psycho-bable from those who have never dealt personally with daily pain, with less involvement of non medical entities who judge us and more involvement from compassionate public figures to help us effect the research and treatment choices we need. We can start seeing our pain as today’s pain…not tomorrow’s, not pain from twenty years ago, but today. It’s hard not to take chronic pain into the future or to not feel the last years of pain as a weight. Yet, when we remind ourselves we are living today, we are hurting today…there’s a bigger chance of finding relief enough…for the moment, the hour, the day. Forget “destination addiction” would be my advice…since destination tends to propel thought to the future, and addiction is a word overused, stigmatized, and not helpful to those with pain who are working to devote their lives to living!! To dedicate themselves to daily function and being able to care for themselves. To find whatever happiness the day brings and to joy in the little things in life. The A word doesn’t describe us or your situation!

    An aside…my old dictionary talks about the C word as merely being great changes due to sudden and violent physical action! And for pain..so sad! The root is punishment or penalty! Also torment! It goes on to say pain is “an uneasy sensation in animal bodies”! So little wonder those of us in pain feel judged!! And those viewing us may feel we’ve done something worthy of the punishment!! Have you ever heard someone say to a person in a leg cast, ” What have you done to yourself?” Better choice would be “What happened?” Wouldn’t it?!

  8. Tim Mason at 8:01 am

    If you worry about tomorrow, your worry steals TODAY. Be content in the present and dream often. Many people let costly gadgets control their lives. For example, extended cable TV packages, the latest cellular phone etc. As I get older I realize the simple things in life are the most enjoyable. Having said this, the greatest joy in my life are my Dogs. Every day I try to be the person my Dogs think I am. I have seven small dogs and I talk to them daily. Four of them are gray-faced and two of them are arthritic. Five are Dachshunds and two are rescues. (one Doxepin and one Harrier beagle).
    For me, happiness is right at my feet or in my lap.
    They love to hear how my day went. Good and bad. I know they do because their tails wag when I tell them about it.