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The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living with and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain by Sarah Anne Shockley is an easy read with no jargon and scientific explanations. This book makes a lots of sense and gives the reader some practical advice and tips to help cope physically and mentally with their chronic pain. It reinforces some of the things I do to help cope with and manage my chronic pain and have talked about in my blog posts.
I was lucky to receive a free copy of The Pain Companion by the author so I could write my honest thoughts and views in this review.
What I loved about this book
The title of the book grabbed my attention. It portrays pain in a positive way, something which can be hard to do and accept, but is definitely achievable for anyone struggling with this after reading this book.
From the very first page of the Foreword, The Pain Companion made a lot of sense to me. At the time of reading this book I had some family commitments which meant that I reluctantly had to keep putting it down. I could quite easily have read it from cover to cover and not put it down.
The Pain Companion encourages the reader to think differently about their pain and to accept it in a way as best they can; it provides many examples of how to do this. It talks about pain being an “unwanted gift” and although it’s a strange statement, I do agree with it. I believe in fate, and although hard to accept in the early days of my pain journey, I’ve learnt so much about myself since getting my chronic pain, and I’ve really learnt to appreciate the little things in life, which the author talks about in this book. I’m now doing a job that suits me better, after having stepped down from a team leader role, and am writing this blog and hopefully inspiring others. I would not be doing any of this if I hadn’t been given this unwanted gift.
“Pain is present in many lives, and refuses to go away, and we must find ways to move through our lives despite the pain.”
I also wanted to keep reading The Pain Companion because I felt that I had more in common with Sarah than some of my close friends. Knowing someone ‘gets it’ when it comes to understanding your situation is a real talisman to learning to cope and managing chronic pain.
A lot of the chapters concluded with “Dear Pain” letters – I loved these. They helped explain the author’s thoughts differently and added a friendlier touch to potentially a lot of anger and frustration that the reader may be feeling. Again, this puts pain in a positive light and encourages the reader get to know it a little better, which can help make it easier to accept.
I learnt a lot about pain from reading about Sarah’s experiences and how she explains how pain works. A lot of the theories I had about my pain and how I cope were confirmed.
“Chronic pain is a very complex condition involving much more than just the physical symptoms of the body. It includes emotional and psychological aspects as well, due to the incredible stresses of living with pain on a daily basis.”
I particularly loved the format of Part 2: The Emotional Life of Chronic Pain. This section looks at some of the impacts of chronic pain and each emotion and feeling state. It summarises how it can make you feel and provides some antidotes to each one. After reading each of these, I immediately felt better. I felt that my feelings were justified as I could understand why I was feeling this way.
“Being totally stressed-out and worried made the level of pain skyrocket, so I had to find some way of working with the tension, anxiety, and fear.”
I also came across some feelings I’ve had but couldn’t describe myself. Sarah’s use of metaphors often hit the nail on the head and summed things up perfectly.
I also liked that there wasn’t just one way of doing things; Sarah gave several options depending on the individual reader’s pain situation.
I was a little wary of Part 3: The Meditative Approaches to Physical Pain section. I’ve tried meditation and mindfulness breathing and exercises before but never really understood the importance of breathing properly and how the breath affects our bodies and our pain. Sarah explains things brilliantly. And I know I will focus on this more in terms of managing my own pain.
What I didn’t like about this book
The only criticism I have of this book of that it was too short. But this is based on the fact that I enjoyed it so much and wanted to keep reading, not that it didn’t contain enough information or advice. This is not the author’s fault, more a personal issue because someone (the author) had empathy for my situation and how my pain affects me.
The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living with and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain by Sarah Anne Shockley is definitely in my top 10 self-care books, and I will certainly be reading it again. I recommend everyone with chronic pain has this book on their shelf or in their Kindle reading list to refer back to and keep as a companion to help cope with their pain.
“To me, pain is a necessity, but suffering is an option.”
I give this book 5 stars: I absolutely loved it! Will read it again! Everyone should read it!
Buy the book here
To find out more
Visit The Pain Companion to find out more about this book.
Visit sarahanneshockley.com to learn more about the author, Sarah Anne Shockley.
Follow The Pain Companion on Facebook.
Follow Sarah on Twitter.
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