September Blog Carnival from Somebodyhealme is “Building Resiliency: How do you bounce back when life kicks you in the chin? What can you share with fellow migraine & headache patients about how to build their coping skills to better handle unexpected, tough situations?”
Hmm. Um. Well. I am not really the person to ask about coping skills although I do introspect enough to know the gaping flaws in my coping skills, so I guess that is something.
What is tricky is that we all have coping behaviours we use in all situations, including pain and stress, that sometimes are positive and sometimes not so positive, but either way, they are habits. I do have a tendency to dwell, overthink, over rationalize and generally put myself in a bad frame of mind. This means I do tend to have bouts of melancholy, anger, frustration and even some ‘poor me’ syndrome added to that. But I think coping is very much an ongoing process. Our emotions cycle around all the time because of the stress of dealing with chronic pain and everyday stresses added on top. It is really all about how we funnel those emotions in order to cope with them so that we don’t add fuel to the fire. To me, our responses to pain are all about Fight or Flight and both work sometimes, but not all the time.
We need to have some fight in us or we would never survive. Fight to be able to demand we get treatment at the ER or the doctor. Fight that we have rights in the workplace. Fight to change our lifestyles in hopes of increasing our quality of life. Fight to find alternative treatments when it seems our doctors are incapable of going further. I found the most profound failure in my coping strategies was when I realized that nothing I said or did changed anything at all, no matter how much I fought or how desperate I was… in other words, I was defeated in all ways. However, that was because the situations I was in and my emotional response to them combined with a nasty streak of pain pushed me beyond my ability to fight and cope… as in no options I presented were accepted and I felt I had no recourse or no control over my life and treatment. Very dangerous to get into that emotional spot… so sometimes just our will to keep going, to fight for our rights for pain relief and just getting through the small battles is enough to cope with more severe and longer durations of pain. However, to always retreat tends to lead to isolation and hermit tendencies I find, so it cannot be the ultimate choice.
Fighting is all good but sometimes I just need to not think about anything, to retreat and to recuperate, because let’s face it, fighting all the time is exhausting, to the point we begin to wonder why we have to fight all the time for things that we ought to have; respect in the workplace, accommodation when needed, pain relief and such. So much energy goes to getting through the pain and getting through the day that having to fight for our rights just seems cruel. In times like this, I just want some quiet time to myself where I do not have to wear a facade of well-being, where I do not have to justify being ill or feel guilty about what I cannot do. I usually engage in my solitary hobbies of reading or fiction writing or blogging. I need that alone time and those distractions in order to even have the will to keep fighting. In other words, survive to fight another day.