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How do you explain your pain to others?

September was Pain Awareness Month. It’s taken me a while to put pen to paper because this is such a huge subject. I wasn’t sure where to start.

Here’s my personal experience of pain. Pain is very real, but it’s also subjective, it changes, it can take different forms, it moves around the body. Some days it’s there, some days it’s gone – and invariably comes back again. It has different sensations – stabbing, burning, aching, prodding, dull, sharp, tingling, and sickening. It responds to different things – sometimes it likes to rest, sometimes it feels better when you move, sometimes it just hurts all the time and nothing will work. Medications can work but in some cases not. Sometimes it likes massage therapy or physiotherapy. Other times that just makes it worse.

It can make you feel tired and drowsy. And yet it can keep you awake. It wakes you from your sleep, letting you know it’s still there. It can make you feel demotivated and exhausted to do anything. It can make people think you’re lazy because all you want to do is lie on the sofa. Your daily chores get neglected. Work becomes a challenge.  It can make people call you a hypochondriac because all you seem to think about and talk about is pain. Surely you can’t really be in that much pain all the time you hear them say.

And yet so many people are in pain – every day. How on earth do we put the above description of pain into one sentence that people who aren’t in pain can understand?  I can write about pain because I’ve been there too. I get it and I’ve experienced all of the above. But what about those that haven’t been there? How can we explain it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Pain to others might be stabbing a toe on the end of the bed or a headache that passes pretty soon. Not the sort headache that makes you cry and hide away.

I may not have the answer but what is for sure is that pain is a complex subject.  It’s different for each of us.  If you were to describe your experience, it would probably be different to mine. After many years, I knew I had to find a solution though.  That solution came in the form of movement.  Movement therapy has helped heal, strengthen my body and mind so I experience less pain on a daily basis. My body is more resilient. My thoughts less sensitive to the pain signals. That way I can be less fixated on the pain and give myself a break from the pain cycle. I believe this is really important for us chronic pain sufferers – to find an activity, an exercise, a community that can distract our thoughts and help break that cycle. That solution, just like the pain itself, will be different for all of us.   But I firmly believe it’s out there.  Happy hunting.

6 Comments
  • Heidi Kyle
    Posted at 14:39h, 16 November Reply

    I just shared this blog with my husband, as he has a hard time wrapping his brain around my pain. Thank you for putting it into words.

    Have you by chance taught anyone in the US your method for Pilates & hyper-mobility? I live in San Antonio, TX and desperately want to start working on movement to feel better. I signed up for your webinar yesterday and got so focused on work that I missed it.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated,
    Heidi

    • Jeannie Di Bon
      Posted at 11:30h, 19 November Reply

      Thank you Heidi – I’m so glad the article was useful to you. It can be a hard subject to discuss and explain to people.

      Sorry you missed the webinar, but a recording is now available to listen at your convenience at http://www.chronicpainpartners.com.

      I have not yet trained any teachers in the US but my online teacher training will shortly be available – please feel free to direct any potential teachers to this.

      I do also have an online course just for EDS and hypermobility if you wanted to try some specific movement at home.

      Kindest regards
      Jeannie

  • Henry Gregor
    Posted at 17:22h, 25 November Reply

    Suffering with chronic pain, I am trying to find the balance between the need for exercise/mobility versus the need for rest. I find this especially challenging as I am on pain block medications. This means that I will often not be conscious of the pain until later in the day and well after the exercise, when the endorphins have also ceased their beneficial effect.. I seem to be in a cycle where my pain signals are firing up for much longer than they are useful or needed. This is draining on many levels and exacerbated by poor and interrupted sleep, which is extremely draining and leaves me even more susceptible to sensations of pain.

    It has been a useful reminder during our 1:1 pilates sessions, to tune in to the messages from my body, that are often obscured by the almost constant barrage of pain. The blend of mindful and focused movement is allowing me to listen to my body again. In just two sessions, through visualisation, along with careful use of the body, I am very encouraged by how much I am already able to release the tension and bracing that has become such a common daily feature for me, Only recently diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos, it is a great comfort to know that you have personal experience and solid understanding of the issues. I am reminded that less is more and there is certainly no need for pounding exercises, or notching up countless exercise classes to feel that I am achieving something beneficial.

    Thank you Jeannie and I look forward to building on this very encouraging start………

    Henry

    • Jeannie Di Bon
      Posted at 09:27h, 30 November Reply

      Thank you Henry for your feedback. I’m delighted to hear and it’s a pleasure working with you.

  • Heidi Kyle
    Posted at 19:17h, 09 January Reply

    Jeannie, I am speechless that you responded.

    I never checked back to this page. (A lot of brain fog these days). I came back to your blog about explaining pain to send to my sister and voila! There was your comment waiting for me… like a little ray of sunshine.

    Please tell me what steps to take to have the wonderful opportunity to work with you online.

    You have turned my day around. Thank you!!

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