Migraine awareness Day 16 Perspective is everything video
The first interesting point in this video is when he points out that to some extent it is the perception of control over our lives that gives us a level of happiness. His example being rather apt, of the two dogs: both in rooms with electric shock floors that are painful, but One having a button that he can press to stop the shock, while the other does not, the one who does not ends up rather depressed while the one who does can function rather well.
If we have the perception that we have some sort of control, or balance even, over our migraine pain… even if the migraines are very frequent, we can still do much better than if we do not feel like we have any control over the pain at all, any control over medical decisions, any control over treatment. The lack of control makes us feel like perhaps that means we will not be able to Manage the situation. Intuitively we know we that we cannot control all aspects of our lives or pain management, but feeling like we are doing something makes us feel good about our progress or makes us feel like we are actually having progress instead of being stagnant. I also know how we perceive things to be like this can dramatically affect our moods and outlook, which can be very important to things like chronic pain. When I am depressed and have no hope, it is I perceive the pain as being a great deal harder to manage. Having a positive idea about treatment, or possibilities, or hope in treatment helps then with just mood management. Although it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook… that also takes effort. Sort of like a conscious reframing of how we think is how I look at it. I am not a positive person naturally speaking. I have to work to think positive things and stop myself from thinking negative things because I know it helps with mood.
However, it is also true that how we think about pain affects how we cope with pain. Our perception of pain and our belief system around pain affects how we cope with pain. Sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at how we are thinking about pain, our illness and our beliefs around that just to take a look at how we are coping. Sometimes we are not coping well. And sometimes it is because we have negative ideas about ourselves because of our illness, or lack of an ability to function, or have maladaptive approaches to coping with it that might have worked at one time but life changed and they just no longer quite work in the context we live. Things change. And our coping has to change with it.
>Like other schemas, a pain schema works automatically
“Much of the time, this can be helpful. For example, you may automatically recognize the set of feelings that signal that a migraine is beginning; you can take your migraine medication right away to prevent the head – ache from beginning. Your pain schema may help you to “just know” how much you can walk before your back starts to hurt too much. Or, your pain schema may help you to provide a simple explanation of your pain condition to others.
How Pain Schemas harm: A pain schema can have negative effects. For example, if you hold the GENERAL BELIEF that you can’t exercise because of your pain, you may turn down invitations involving SPECIFIC physical activities that you might be able to do. Your pain schema may also be outdated or even inaccurate. For example, your schema may contain old and inaccurate information about the cause or treatment of your pain. Most importantly, aspects of your pain schema may make coping with pain more difficult. For example, if you have come to believe that having chronic pain means that you are useless, then you will be less likely to try to be useful. If you believe that the only treatment for chronic pain is pain medication, then you will be less likely to try other options, such as physical therapy, meditation or pacing yourself. If your schema suggests that other people can’t understand your pain, you may isolate yourself and stop giving people the chance to get to know you.”http://www.painpathways.org/2012/12/31/living-with-pain/
It also reminds me of depression. Because depression seems to have a lot to do with our perception of reality and how it becomes skewed. It seems to be a thinking disorder. I can damn well think myself into it when I am in a lot of pain. That slippery slope thoughts can take. I remember when I was younger suffering from a chronic depression cognitive therapy helped me a great deal. I picked it up from a book and looked at all the habitual phrases I told myself in a day, how I thought about the world, my life, my illness, pain… and then ways to correct that. It helped immensely. I suspect it doesn’t for all types of depression but I think it can for some. I have to consciously do it for some time before I break the broken record though. And recently I found that those negative thoughts crept in again, in new ways, so I had to once again think about how I view the world, my life, my illness and my pain in order to see which thoughts were not working well for me. Which were unrealistic, too negative or based on preconceptions of a healthy person, or ideas of guilt. Thinking about these helps then slowly correct them. And improving our mood definitely helps with managing our illness. I also see a psychologist but he mostly helps me with pain management and not with depression, however, with many people with comorbid conditions it would be beneficial to see a psychologist as well.
He also mentioned choosing our frame of reference. And I believe this is important with chronic illness. Our frame of reference should never be ourselves when we ‘were well’ or other normal fully functional people or even other people with migraines who might differ from ourselves. We should always choose to better ourselves from where we were in the recent past, seeking to improve upon ourselves at our own pace. Choosing things that work for us specifically, not just because they worked for someone else. We often feel guilty because we cannot meet up with unrealistic expectations we load upon ourselves. If we make realistic expectations and goals with small reasonable steps it is far easier to achieve the goals we set.