It’s not the future that you’re afraid of. It’s repeating the past that makes you anxious.-unknown
I’m not a very anxious person with a capital A. It isn’t one of the things I have a problem with. I’m one of those people when I feel anxiety… I stop thinking about that thing, until I have to, so it isn’t a problem. I am a depressive type and I use the same technique it is just that I am more prone to it and in need of more distraction… and pain ups the ante as it were.
However, the one thing I have anxiety about is my ability to cope with chronic pain, especially when it comes to working. And this poster expresses that quite well. You see I have had chronic pain for a very long time, and it has in its time caused issues with depression but I have coped with the pain so I was able to handle that quite well… I mean it took a bit but I managed it. But you get slumps because chronic pain is tricky business. It is this constant stressor and when you add other things in there it can be quite the mix.
No one teaches the skills you develop to cope with chronic pain and illness. So it is a rocky start. But then you figure it out. And even then the skills you learn are not great but they are what you have. The medical field isn’t exactly on your side here. Should they help you develop skills? Sure. Does it happen? Rarely.
Not a problem. Life goes on. You deal. You have to. So you do.
However pain is not the sort of thing that always plays nice. You may get more than one form of chronic pain. And that pain may just get worse. And worse.
And then pain exceeds the capacity to cope. And for me it did for quite some time but you sort of stay in survival mode for a while because suicide is this not-option. Not because it is impossible but because you don’t want to hurt other people. It is sort of that plan B for when you can’t take it any more but you always convince yourself that you must take it a little more. Because maybe something will change. Then it doesn’t. Maybe you can push through the pain for a bit, a year, two. I don’t really need to talk about how pain is a suicide risk or how pain itself is a driving suicide risk, or how it contorts your reasoning. Or how doctors should be more aware of this when not-treating patients. My point is… after choosing this, convincing yourself of this, and then, surviving this… well…
you can never, ever fully be confident of your capacity to endure pain for the long haul because you Know in a moment of acute pain… you chose not to. And at any moment on the conceivable future, of this potentially long future you have with chronic pain, of all those acute pain moments, the exact same thing could occur. Not saying it will. Not saying the desire is there. Not saying I will not try my damndest for it not to happen, try every conceivable method and new trick people show me so that I can ‘manage’ the pain I have… but that Before I was 100% I never would ‘go there’ and cross that line and After I know I am not sure.
It isn’t that having attempted I would know the warning signs, never attempt again, understand the impact it had. Quite the opposite. I know how easy it was. I know how tiny a step it is from being in immense pain and thinking suicidal thoughts to jumping over that line. And thinking the thoughts, well, just happen when you are in a great deal of pain for long durations of time, which just happens when you are working full time with unmanaged pain. Thus my Anxiety about working. I have anxiety about my long term survival if I were in ‘that mental place’ again because I would have to essentially convince myself to exist on a regular basis. Which I did for a very long time, but now I no longer have the confidence.
Plus a part of me fears I don’t even have the desire to do so. Like the ‘straw the broke the camels back’ already fell. It broke the back. That was that. My pain tolerance was exceeded. I could not take it. I proved that. I did something about it. I was sent Back to work. And … I was shaken. Obviously. Something like that is traumatizing. But going back to the same situation… that much pain and working with it, didn’t help any. I felt worse because then I felt Hopeless. I realized there was no way out… can’t die (too hurtful to others)… can’t not work (apparently not an option?). It was a horrific feeling. I felt like I was dying inside. And this began to make me angry a bit, after time. That my doctor and employer would both be so indifferent to my pain and survival to crush my essence like that to the point death would be quite preferable. Seemed like they must prefer that. Which is why I sought out a psychologist. I would find myself tearing up at the weirdest times. Like while laughing. Or when someone honestly asked me how I was doing. Just this intense despair was beneath the surface at all times because I… just didn’t know how I was going to survive. I kept wondering, how long of a timeline do I have? How many status migraines am I away from my inevitable demise?
I’m not sure how much meditation or biofeedback can conquer that. Partly it was just that it is depression over top of the chronic migraines. Depression that was not there until after the suicide attempt I might add. But when your doctor does nothing to change your treatment and you just go back to where you were at, when maybe I should have been on a long term leave right then and sent to a pain clinic… something. I don’t care what. But when you say to a patient it was a ‘excessive pain reaction’ and do nothing, you are rather brushing them aside. Nevertheless, you are left with this numbness and depression. Which doesn’t help the pain problem you Actually had to begin with. And this Anxiety about your capacity to cope, which you never had in the past.
So it is not the Future your Afraid of. It is the Past your afraid of Repeating. Because that is one thing I would hate to repeat. Might not survive it a second time, given the fact I might not have the first time. Not the sort of thing you want to try again. Pain isn’t something to mess around with. Depression, the sort that I have, doesn’t disturb me on its own… I can deal with it normally. Pain though is another story. I can cope with it when I am not working. It very difficult. I really don’t function well or much. I may not have the life others have. Or get much done. But I can have a life, not an existence. I’m not tormented. I’m not suicidal. I’m not frantic. Or desperate. I have a small gap of the day without a migraine… and that small gap is Mine. When I am working… it is just pain. There is no life, but that. All the things they tell you to do to help with chronic pain… exercise, socialize a bit, hobbies… none of that is conceivable. It is just get through the pain, try to function as best you can, hope you don’t fuck up, get home, lie down and be in acute pain in peace and then hope you can get some sleep. There are a lot of status migraines, with sleep deprivation, and serious bouts of depression with those. The combination of working (and it isn’t the act of working… it is the enviroment, the fact my sleep cycle does not work for mornings, the triggers, the fact treatment is limited to 3 days and the workday is 5… and other factors) plus migraines at the daily point makes it impossible to manage them at all. Not working you can control your enviroment a little, which dims the pain a little, you can get more sleep, which prevents the status migraines more often and you do not have to Function in acute pain, or with aggravators like light and sound all the time, so your mood is better right there. But work has positive benefits as well, not saying it doesn’t because it does. If I can begin to get a grip on the migraines, I will begin to find some sort of work plan that works better for my brain, because they are not all created equal.
It is a scary thing though to know that you are not Strong. That you could not conquer pain like that forever. That it conquered you. At the same time it was good, in the sense that I was forced to acknowledge that work wasn’t working for me. Doing what I was doing wasn’t working for me. And my doctor wasn’t working for me. And that a psychologist was necessary… and that they are the ones apparently that help out with tricks to cope with pain that doctors lack, and doctors lack treating pain as well as offering solutions otherwise. And getting a new doctor was the best decision I made. And so I will be going to a pain clinic. So all that came from that. Otherwise I would still be struggling to exist. And how I cope with my anxiety about my future is by attempting all these methods for coping with pain I have not tried, hoping they will give me an edge. And hopefully defining a new future that looks nothing like my past so that when I get to it… it will not be the same scenario at all. But most importantly I know you need to have a life… not just pain, or you will not survive. So you must cultivate that and emotional and mental wellbing with it, so you have the resources and desire to survive. But that means you cannot exceed your pain if you work, so you need to work on the pain management.