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Coming up in September is Pain Awareness Month and this year’s theme is ‘Let’s talk about pain’. I fully understand how hard it is to talk about chronic pain. My type of pain is really embarrassing and it’s invisible; people often don’t get how hard it is to live with chronic pain on a daily basis. In this post I talk about why it is important to talk to people about your chronic pain and the benefits it can have.
Pain Awareness Month is an American awareness campaign where organisations and individuals come together to raise awareness about chronic pain. It highlights how people cope and how pain can affect those who have it as well as those around them.
You can feel connected and not alone
Taking that first step and talking about things can be a huge step in realising that you are not alone. This is extremely powerful. When someone ‘gets it’ it can be very comforting, and it’s like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.
I often speak to people who find it embarrassing or shameful to talk about their pain, or their condition and symptoms; they feel it defines who they are. Life does change when you have a health condition or a disability, but it should not dictate who you are or what you do.
There are many ways to connect with others who have similar pain and conditions to you:
- Search online: There is bound to be a Facebook group or charity you can contact.
- Ask your GP: Pain management clinics offer support groups.
- Reach out in work: Is there a staff network you can join?
You can get the medical support you need
Talking about your chronic pain can help you get the medical support you need. This may be with a medical professional to help get the right medication, or try new types of treatment or pain management options.
It is just as important to deal with the mental aspects of chronic pain and having the opportunity of talking about your chronic pain is one part of this. Opening up about this aspect of chronic pain isn’t always easy either. But there is support out there to help you manage your mental health, such as stress, anxiety, depression and learning how to cope with your new life.
Developing and having your own pain management toolbox is vital to helping you cope on a daily basis, and the first step is being brave to talk about it.
Read my post Your complete guide to pain management for chronic pain to find out more.
You can get the adjustments you need to stay in work
Work is a vital part of life, even for people with chronic pain and chronic illness. Wherever possible, it is recommenced that you stay in work if you can. This will help distract you from your pain, as well as help keep you active. People who go off work for long periods of time are more likely to start feeling depressed.
Being in work doesn’t often make the pain worse, but you may need some support and adjustments to help you do your job. Talking about your chronic pain is the only way to get these adjustments.
When I returned to work after my surgery, I needed to get a height adjustable desk, have breaks and short walks every 30 minutes, and become home-based. I also had to move to a new role under the Equality Act. All this wouldn’t have been possible had I stayed silence about my pain.
How has talking about chronic pain helped you?
What changed once you started talking about your chronic pain?
What tip can you share?
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