The reality of chronic pain: my good days versus my bad days

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A huge part of living with chronic pain is getting used to the ups and downs and the often unpredictable nature of a pain flare up. I’m at a point where I have accepted this, and for me it is now the norm. I have learned to go with the flow and make the most of my good days, and focus more on self-care and self-preservation on the bad days. In this post I share what those two days look like and how my pain affects things such as my mood, my productivity, and my overall wellbeing.

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I’m moody when I’m in pain

This sounds obvious, but to me it really wasn’t. My partner recently suffered a bout of neck pain and said to me: “My pain is making me moody. I admire you and how you cope with your pain everyday.”

I’ve never really thought about my mood when I’m in pain. I know I’ve been snappy, teary, and frustrated at times, but yeah, being in pain does make you moody. And not only does it affect me (now I notice it), it also has a knock-on effect on those around you.

I’m going to try and be more mindful of my mood on a bad day and maybe I can learn to be less moody and more positive.

I’m so much more productive on a good day

I have learned to make the most of my good days as much as I can. My various pains can strike at any time, and although I am in pain everyday – especially when I sit down – I do have times where my pain is at it’s lowest and I can do so much more.

Sometimes I overdo it to get stuff done but hardly ever do I overdo it and make my pain worse. I know damn well that if I do I will suffer later or the on next day 

On a good day I use my time much more wisely and make the most of feeling normal. On a good day I write to do lists and I get them completed. I often set myself a schedule, and plan my day.

Even on a bad pain day I like to feel productive – it’s definitely one of my main motivators in life. When I have to (or am encouraged to) rest and take it easy, I like to keep busy and try not to focus on my pain. I like to read, watch TV, do my puzzles, have cuddles with my family, or listen to my music, a podcast or an Arsenal game. I feel I am doing what is right by me, but also feeling like I am achieving something.

The pace is very often much slower, but that doesn’t matter.

My anxiety takes over on bad pain day

Everyone naturally suffers from some sort of anxiety, it is a part of life, but for people with chronic pain, it is often the most common symptom other than the pain itself.

This is because pain is a sign of danger and that something is wrong in the body – it alerts us to do something about it. As a result, the pain causes the nervous system to respond with the fight, flight or freeze response, caused by a rush of adrenaline. This naturally causes our bodies to have feelings of fear, apprehension and nervousness.

On a bad pain day, my anxiety takes over – it constantly niggles at me, it fears the worst, and it stops me doing stuff. Annoyingly, if it were a good pain day, then I’d probably be able to crack on as normal.

I’m much more sociable when my pain is low

This is probably linked to my anxiety, but on a bad pain day, I find it really hard to be sociable – I just want to stay in my safe space at home and do everything I can to manage my pain. I don’t have to hide my pain, nor do I have to justify or explain what I’m doing to anyone.

On a good day I’m quite chatty and very often want to catch up with friends and family. I keen to go out (when not in lockdown) and happy to spend time on the phone or FaceTime.

My confidence is high when my pain is low

Good days mean I am more outgoing, more willing to get stuff done, try new things, and generally am upbeat and high in confidence.

The opposite to this is that on a bad day, my pain zaps this completely. I’m very wary and generally feel very low in self-esteem and don’t feel like I have the ability to do much at all.

On a good day I will say yes to new things and feel good in whatever I am doing. I very often wish I could be like this all the time, and I know it’s not just a pain thing, we all have days like this, but there is a definite pattern (and frustration) to my confidence that is affected by my daily pain.

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Your thoughts

How do your good days differ from the bad?

What do you do on a bad day to make it better?

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4 thoughts on “The reality of chronic pain: my good days versus my bad days

  1. Anne says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Reading this totally helped me to put my days in perspective and it’s so good to know that I am not alone.

  2. Katie Clark says:

    I can fully identify. I’m getting better when bad days hit that I don’t get as dark. Also, good days, I’m not going until I drop, like I had been.

  3. SpookyMrsGreen says:

    It is only recently that I made a connection between my mood and my pain levels. I have lived with eye pain all my life and people expect me to just get on with it. So I do. I definitely feel more productive on low pain days and I make the most of it. I try to take it easy and not be hard on myself on high pain days.

  4. Sandy says:

    Great post! I’ve found that accepting that it’s not a great day rather than fighting it is the best way for me to deal with it. I used to try to talk myself out of it, and would feel guilty. Now I roll with it – and if my family doesn’t understand, it’s their issue, not mine.

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