The things people say just make me wonder sometimes. And irk me a little bit. Not enough to say anything because I’m a mellow and easy-going person that isn’t likely to comment on it unless it is to have an intellectual conversation about it. Which is why I am going to bring it up.

Am I brave? Am I strong? With chronic pain?

Am I brave?

People say you are so brave to deal with what you do every day. Brave is doing something you don’t want to do or feel is important or you must due to your ideals, that is difficult, trying, emotional and situation that could have serious consequences but you do it anyway. You are brave. I am surviving because I must. I am enduring because I must. There were no options. And the amount of bravery it would take to Choose this, I simply do not have. The only brave thing is continuing to survive when I consider not. That is my bravest of moments. I question the word though. I think about it when it is used.

Am I strong?

You are so strong to endure the pain. I don’t feel strong. I feel tired. I endure it because I must. Am I stronger for enduring it? Perhaps in ways that are hard to define. For example, if I had the pain now that I did when I initially was diagnosed there is no way I could cope with it… it is substantially worse now. But I coped with what I had then and I adapted. And in the process, I coped and adapted as it got worse. I gained the strength of tolerance in pain and coping strategies. But I lost in the process along the way as well and coping is a continuous cycle, so I wouldn’t say I am strong. I would say I am Wise. I would say I am Knowledgeable of my strengths and weaknesses both in order to adapt to them best to survive the life I have. So I question the word strong when we have simply fought to learn How to survive.

Am I brave or strong with chronic pain

Despite the words used I know we change in many ways from coping with chronic pain. A certain endurance and perseverance that we have to learn. Certainly, a pain tolerance we have to develop to function with certain levels of pain most would think unbearable. When we reflect on the fact ‘we are not who we used to be’ we should think on that for a moment. We are not who we used to be. This person we are now has learned to adapt to a constant stressor in their lives and persevered with it. This person who we are now has gone through the long arduous stages of coping, more than once, to develop some semblance of acceptance of their condition. Or working on it. Not an easy process by any means. We are always striving as well. Striving to improve our wellbeing and quality of life to give ourselves the best life we can possibly achieve given the situation we have. Am I brave? Am I strong? I don’t know. I am here. I am fighting. I am alive. That is something.

Other posts on coping:

Guilty of being chronically ill

Chronic illness and the art of pacing

My daily health journal

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