Those of us with chronic pain on the outside look fine. People will call us lazy because we do not look disabled. They will think we are scamming this system. That we don’t ‘look sick enough’. That we are smiling so we ‘can’t be in that much pain.’ Didn’t we take that smiling selfie and put it on Facebook… since Facebook reveals a true reflection of our real lives then clearly we were happy and not in pain, right? Of course not. Pictures are tiny moments of happiness or they are moments where we find the need to smile to be socially acceptable. Where we are masking our pain the hardest.
Here are some hard truths about pain:
First hard truth about pain- They will doubt you.
They will always doubt you. How much pain you are in. If you are in pain. Your pain number when you say it. How bad you really hurt. You have learned to mask your pain. They need pain behaviors to believe pain. But let’s be honest even if you didn’t mask your pain then you’d be exaggerating and complaining… so there is no winning on this front. There is stigma to the left of you, stigma to the right and you are caught in the middle. Fact is you will have to prove it over and over and over again to so many people for years and years. They will ignore the impact it has had on you. Ignore pretty much everything. You will have no power over what they believe or do not believe, but they will have a lot of power over decisions in your life such as disability and insurance and doctor care.
The second hard truth about pain- This is not an easy life.
Pain that never goes away is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. It stresses the body and makes a person insanely fatigued. It affects the brain; concentration and memory. You often feel in a pain haze where it is hard to remember the details of anything. It takes a great deal of strength and determination to continue day after day knowing the pain will be there day after day. The impact of chronic pain is continuous as well. And that impact can dramatically affect our lives. Such that it seems like we don’t even recognize the life we wanted to what we are left with. What we are left with seems narrow, confining, and limited. And somewhere in there, we have to Try to find a way to live some sort of life with some sort of quality of life with the pain. And we can fail at this, as sometimes the pain is far too high for a proper quality of life or to have much of a life to live in there. But that is the aim. And that is not an easy life.
The third hard truth about pain-There is no magic pill.
There are a lot of things we can do. A lot of medications. A lot of alternative treatments… out of pocket. Lots of things to try. None of them will eradicate the pain, but some will help. That is the hard truth, there will be pain regardless but there can be less. You just have to find your formula as it were.
The fourth hard truth about pain- most of us will be susceptible to depression and anxiety.
We have a high risk of suicidal ideation and a high risk of suicidal actions. Just the thoughts though occur to many of us. Because at some point the pain gets to us and we will wonder if continuing to fight it is worth it. For most of us, they are just thoughts. For some of us, they can turn to plans and then actions. And for some of us, we can develop depression and anxiety. One hard truth is that we can have suicidal ideation and even suicidal intent without depression but from the pain alone. It is an important risk factor to be aware of.
The fifth truth about pain- there is an obvious shift in society where they are not concerned about pain patients.
They are concerned about addicts. By reducing pain medications pain patients suffer because no thought at all was put into consideration of what was to replace those medications such as proper and complex chronic pain management. No consideration given that some of those patients actually needed those medications. The media slanted the argument. Everyone’s opinions have been slanted. Opiates bad. Everyone who uses them… gets addicted. It has been completely warped without a shred of decency paid to facts. So the future of pain management looks grim indeed. With nothing and a side of nothing for pain management.
That is a lot of hard truth. But in the end, we cope. In the end, we endure. If anything, perseverance is a trait we have. We fight the good fight. We fight for our rights. We fight stigma. And we fight the pain.