05 Oct 2018 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.