I was a bad pain day.
Actually, it was a bad pain week.
Month. Year. Decade.
It has been bad for quite some time. And that is why I have been having such a hard time coping with it. Why I have had to decrease my work. Why I was sent to the pain clinic in the first place.
And so when someone says it has been a bad day, not a bad life… it really is a reminder to say, right, there were other things going on in there too.
The problem is, of course, when you are having some serious pain issues and as a result coping issues, and maybe add in some anxiety and depression, it actually does affect a great many facets of your actual Life. From work to family to social life. So for a while, it sure does seem like a bad life. Like an existence. Like there isn’t just that much life in there at all.
But there still was. We tend to magnify the negative and minimize the positive. In my bad decades, I have finished my Masters, been with my spouse the whole time, bought a house, been at the same job for 10 years, been on vacations to Scotland, Vancouver and the mountains. I fit joys in there. It was just very difficult. And the pain was causing a lot of problems with my coping, to the point life didn’t seem worth living. And to be honest I was a real, real, real hermit. I rarely left the house. Just had no energy for it.
It isn’t a bad life though when you have the coping strategies. When your pain is properly managed. When you can function just a little more. Have some breathing space. Can fit some life in there. Can work to your limited capacity (or go on disability), can socialize to some extent, can have a relationship that is functional with chronic illness issues and can spend time with family. When you have some capacity to be productive, within your limitations and moderation… then it isn’t a bad life.
It can be a bad day. Hell, a bad week. A bad month. But not a bad life. If we can sustain some sort of balance.
I can’t say that I have achieved this at this point only that this is the aim. At this current point, I am still trying to balance pain and working part-time which is a challenge for me giving it increases my pain load.
I want to say “It was a bad day, not a bad life” and mean it. My depression though says “What life?” To which I reply “The life I am trying to add in there. The life I am trying to fill the gaps with.” I am very aware pain and depression lie so very well. They say Look at all the Pain and horror that is this life. And ignore all the joys, laughs and wonder you have experienced. When I know logically I am capable of being in a good mood when I am in moderate pain. Of laughter. Of happiness. Of enjoying certain mellow activities.
So my point is this, my friends:
1) Don’t listen to that lying pain brain: There were and are joys, laughter and wonder in those years and decades. Much more than your brain permits us to acknowledge. And this is why it often benefits us with chronic pain to do a gratitude journal and actually list things we are grateful each day. I recommend the app Happier. Just point out to yourself that you were happy/grateful/thankful you walked the dog/snuggled with the cat/read a good book/spent time with the bf,gf, spouse/listened to some good tunes. Force the brain to say I enjoyed This despite the pain today.
2) Find ways to fit life into your existence. Socialize for a little bit a week or month with friends or family. Take a nice little walk to get out of the house once a week. Do that hobby that you enjoy regularly. Hell, pick up a new one. And yes, video games are in fact a hobby. As is reading. And many other things.
3) If you are at the point I was at, where you think your life isn’t a life at all, but an existence. A bad life. This is a complicated situation. It is difficult to sustain. It wears on the mood. We shouldn’t have to live like that or endure it. What I have tried to do is get out of it just step by step. I got a new doctor. Got new treatment. Treated my depression. Changed my work level. You have to assess what the problem factors are. In my case; lack of medical care and unable to sustain work. And try to figure out ways to resolve those factors. Which is very, very difficult to do, because we don’t always have control over those factors. Take it step by step. And hope that eventually, you will get to the point of having a life and sustaining a balance.
One thing I have learned is that there will always be pain. Bad pain days. Not so bad pain days. Moderate pain days. And I have to learn to live a life in there with all of them. As I said, I struggle with this. Not as much as I was struggling, but I struggle. The best I think we can do is as we go along to figure out what is not working for us and try to change that. To work on our coping so that it is better than yesterdays coping. And hope one day we have a good life despite the pain, with the pain