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I’ve had chronic pain for over 7 years. I’ve been angry, scared, lost, defeated, frustrated, and worst of all, my relationship nearly ended because of it. I wanted it out my life and to get the ‘old’ me back. But over the last few years, the more I’ve accepted that my pain has, and will, change me, the more I’ve learned to see how it has changed me in some good ways too. Read this post to see some of the ways your pain can change you, and understand it won’t all be that bad.
Note: This post may be more welcoming and make much more sense to those of you who are further along in your chronic pain journey. Even if you’re in the early stages of having chronic pain, I still hope that what I write about somehow inspires you and gives you a glimmer of hope that things can and will get better over time.
There’s no doubt that having chronic pain will affect and change you – physically, mentally, and emotionally. And not just you either; it affects those around you. We each have to find the right pain management toolbox and coping strategies to help us cope day-to-day.
You naturally change over time – it happens to everyone, not just those of us with chronic pain or chronic illness. It’s easy to put all the blame for the bad stuff on to the thing that seems to define us the most – our chronic pain. But when you start to see things a little differently, change your mindset towards your new life to see just see the positive, it can make things seem a lot better, and we learn that it doesn’t define us at all.
The good stuff
You learn to focus more on self-care
Self-care is all about taking care of yourself to help you manage your chronic pain. It is about prioritising your energy, your mind, and your wellbeing in order to be able to focus on your pain management, which means you can live life as best you can.
If you’re feeling stressed, your pain management will be much harder. If you’re feeling tired and drained, your pain management will be much harder. If you’re run-down or have a cold, or any other medical conditions, your pain management will be much harder. Self-care is all about looking after you and your health.
Read some of my other self-care posts:
You learn to get more organised
You have to! Having chronic pain means you need to plan for the bad times, the bad days, and you need to do what you can to help yourself cope better. If you don’t learn to get organised, your pain will be a lot worse. Being organised is a skill, but you can learn how to do it.
You will get to know some amazing people
I’ve met some very close friends through my chronic pain. They have chronic pain too, so they just ‘get it’. There’s true empathy right there, and that builds a connection, trust, understanding, and kindness. These are people who would never have come in to your life if it wasn’t for your chronic pain.
The not-so-good stuff
You may find yourself wanting to be in control more and more
As a result of getting organised, focusing your self-care, and just because you feel like your chronic pain controls everything, you want to be in control of things where you can. This can be a negative, and can lead to anxiety – which is another downside having chronic pain, and this can make your pain worse.
You soon get tired
Chronic pain is both physically and mentally draining. All the thinking and planning you do to manage your pain, as well as the struggles with coping with the actual pain itself, is exhausting. And some days you just have to say ‘no’ and give in to it; focus on looking after yourself and resting, which is incredibly frustrating.
There will be some things you can no longer do
This will be different for everyone. It may be that you have to give up work; it may be that you can only do things for a short period of time or a lot slower than you’re used to; it may be that you spend a lot more time bed. Here are 3 things I can no longer do.
In these situations you must learn to focus on what you can do. Don’t be defeated by your chronic pain, find something to distract you from your pain, and it makes things that little bit easier and more positive for you.
Has your chronic pain changed you?
In what ways?
Do you see the good stuff as well as the bad stuff?
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