Don't play the pain game

No disability is the same. So don’t play the pain game.

I had someone comment to me on social media. ‘You don’t know pain.’ And I replied ‘I know My pain.’ Because that is the pain I have access to. It is a private experience. I know my suffering. I know my pain.

And I know the commonalities we all tend to experiences. Things we all seem to struggle with when coping with pain. Like being in denial and still thinking if you push through you can still do what you did before. Or feeling guilty or angry that you are no longer capable of what you could do before. Guilty you are not as productive. That is what makes our individual experiences relatable. I have this pain, you have that, but we experience similar responses to it. Anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, acceptance, hopeless…

But we are individuals with different conditions. Their own pain, own pain tolerance, own responses to pain, own suffering, own responses to suffering and own coping skills and habitual coping habits.


We should never:

1) Deny someone’s pain or diminish it or minimize it:

Like that fellow did for whatever reason. You know nothing of pain. Your pain is nothing compared to mine. I wish my pain was as mild as That. You can’t have fibromyalgia because your symptoms are too mild.  Some people like to diminish other people’s suffering by making it sound like it is nothing compared to their Monstrous suffering.  It is rude to disregard and diminish someone else’s pain experience, which might be quite a bit worse than you think looking in, just because you want to be king of the pain pile.

2) Don’t play the pain game:

No one knows what these people are trying to win here, but often they never answer the persons question just up-pain them.

Person A: I am walking for exercise. Any other FM friendly exercise to try?
Person B: You are lucky, my pain is so bad I can’t even leave the house.
Person A: I’ve had three migraines this week and it is getting to me. Anyone tried mindful meditation and would that help to relax me more you think?
Person B: You are so lucky to have that few. I have migraines every day, non-stop.

Some people like to prove their pain is worse than everyone else’s. I don’t know what type of award they are trying to win, but it sounds like a sucky one. But there are exceptions to the rule. In a thread where that is precisely what you are talking about; how sucky your day is, what your health is like… that sort of thing. It is not one-up-manship then, it is just sharing how you feel. But if it isn’t on that topic at all, then why tell the person how much more you are suffering than they are? Why not address the topic at hand; coping strategies or treatment options, whatever it may be.

3) Don’t Judge the particulars:

Because everyone is different some people’s illness presents differently. And people sometimes think that means they are lying, exaggerating, don’t have the illness at all or are suffering less as a result. They get judged for it. Debating the particulars isn’t fair to someone who is coping with the same illness, presenting in a different way.

We are all different. So everyone we meet is having a complex pain experience. Mood, mentally, physically rolled into one. And that Chronic Pain Experience resembles yours in its commonalities but not in the particulars.

Other posts thinking about pain

Pain is always new to the sufferer

Chronic pain: More than my battle

When people think about pain


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