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There is probably no one who fully understands your chronic pain like you do. It’s your pain, you react in the way you do, and you learn to cope in your own ways too. But having people close to you who ‘get it’ and understand your chronic pain or chronic illness is really, really important. In this blog post I share my thoughts on why.
You don’t have to hide anything
You don’t have to hide anything or pretend you’re ok when you’re not. It’s draining and it’s not nice when you feel you can’t be the real you. Focussing on the things that you need to hide is hard work.
Being the authentic you is much much easier.
There’s less anxiety in general
When you’re with those who understand, it can automatically reduce any anxiety. Knowing you’ve got someone around you who understands your chronic pain is priceless. For me, my anxiety is still a struggle, but one layer of this is much easier to cope with knowing my partner ‘gets me’.
You can do your pain management without lots of questions
Whatever your pain management is – distraction, heat therapy, rest and sleep, using different cushions, medication, meditation etc. – you can do it knowing that you won’t get lots of questions. Or thoughts about what you’re doing and why. Or having to explain and justify yourself. Or feeling like all the attention is on you.
When you’re with those that ‘get it’ you can just get on with it, no questions asked, and it’s understood, supported, and accepted.
You can focus your energy on the right things
When you’re worrying about what others think, or trying to pretend you’re ok, or hide what you need to do to help yourself, it takes up a lot of energy; energy that is much better spent on more important things: like doing something to keep you distracted, or helping you with your pain management, or preventing you from getting tired and making your pain worse and even more difficult to manage.
They ask if you’re ok but you don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed
When I’m out with friends who don’t really understand my chronic pain, they often ask if I’m ok. Maybe I look in pain, or they know I’m struggling. But with those who I know don’t understand, I just feel embarrassed. I don’t like to say I’m not ok, as it often feels like you’re dragging them down, or you fear you’ll make them feel awkward. Instead I revert to the above – I hide my pain, I get more anxious (which makes my pain worse), and my energy goes on the wrong things.
My amazing other half just knows when I’m having a bad day. More often than not she doesn’t even need to ask if I’m ok; she just gives me a hug, or tells me to lie down (which is a huge part of my pain management), or says something funny to make me smile, automatically making me feel better.
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People around you feel comfortable and provide reassurance that everything is ok
We all need a little reassurance from time-to-time, especially those with chronic pain or chronic illness. You tend to get this from those who understand. A reassuring look or some reassuring words just make you feel at ease and comfortable in yourself, and your situation. A situation which you can’t control, and they know it too.
People around you think of your needs
Those closest to me often think of my needs before I do; it’s almost as if it comes second nature to them too, which is absolutely brilliant.
They accept the good days with the bad
With chronic pain and chronic illness, there are so many ups and downs. But when you have those people around you who understand your situation, they accept those ups and downs and join you on your journey.
Do you have people around you who understand your chronic pain and/or chronic illness?
How do they make you feel better?
Do you find the support of those who ‘get it’ important too?
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