Many painful conditions are invisible. It makes it hard for the outside world to relate. For example, people suffering from trigeminal neuralgia or interstitial cystitis often have to face a lifetime of chronic pain that is so excruciating; it can be extremely difficult for someone who has never known that pain to relate. Additionally, these conditions aren’t easily perceivable. Sufferers don’t use wheelchairs, don’t wear any special gear, and might try to put on a grin and bear it when out in public. If you suffer from chronic pain, it’s important to find people who “get” it, or are at least willing to try to understand how your life has changed for the time being.
You can find support in so many places. Start with your doctor, and spread yourself wide. Here are a few places to look for hope and encouragement.
1. Get Help from Friends and Family
You might feel like a complainer, but you shouldn’t. Talk to your friends and family about your condition. Be open and honest about the extent of your pain, and let them ask questions. You may be surprised at their willingness to help you conquer the pain. Your golfing buddy might enjoy stopping by for a game of chess instead, or your girl’s night group might be ready to start that book club. Suggest comfortable activities that seem manageable, and be willing to ask for help.
2. Ask Your Doctor or Local Health Services About Support Groups
Even if you have the absolute best group of friends and family, it can feel very lonely when no one else in your life truly understands how you feel. Ask your doctor, or do an online search, for support group recommendations. While you may not feel up to attending every meeting, the people you get to know there will understand your absence each time, and you can always contact them whenever you’re feeling down and need to commiserate.
3. The Internet Has Everything
Your laptop or smart device can give you access to the world – including so many others who are going through the same thing you are. There are specified websites built with information and forums for almost any condition. If you can’t find one, you can look to places like Reddit. There are many user-generated subreddits, essentially forums, devoted to specific topics, where users can offer advice or ask for support.
The most important thing to remember when you’re dealing with chronic pain is to support yourself through self-care. First, talk to your doctor, and discuss options that will help manage your pain so you can spend more days feeling better than today. Then, follow that plan and add in plenty of affirmations that help you remember that everything is temporary. That’s hard to keep in mind when the word ‘chronic’ precedes your diagnosis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean forever. Your current pain management plan may not be the best for you, but your next one might be.
If your pain management plan isn’t providing you with enough relief, contact the Premier Pain & Spine team to get help.