Chronic pain sucks. Whether the cause of pain is fibromyalgia, endometriosis, arthritis or any of the other hundreds of conditions that cause chronic pain, there is no way to make the pain seem pretty. ‘It is what it is.’ Funnily enough, ‘it is what it is’ is one of the most frustrating things to hear but also one of the most widely used phrases in my vocabulary in regards to pain. But it is- Medication can help some people and there are other methods of managing pain, but rarely a solution that can stop it for good. So where does this leave us with our feelings towards out bodies?
A Bit of Background on Me
I am a part of the population who suffer from chronic pain but have no definitive answer for it. My doctors, family, and myself think that the issue is endometriosis, but my experience with hospitals has been less than peachy, leaving me in limbo. The one thing we know for certain though is that I am in pain more often than I am not, but much like many other people who have severe pain on the regular, I do as much as I can to go about my life as normal in spite of it.
I’ve learned a lot of things from being in pain a lot, but the most important and the hardest lesson I’ve learned is that my body is brilliant and I should have spent more time appreciating it instead of hating it for what it was doing to me.
Being in pain all of the time is hard. There is no other way to put it. It is difficult and it takes a huge mental toll as well as a physical one. Frustration, anger and hopelessness are all common. Feeling frustrated due to not being able to do things, or having to miss events, or just due to being completely and utterly fed up of feeling rubbish can become the norm. It’s completely normal to feel like it’s unfair that you’re in pain and it’s completely normal to have a little cry from time to time over it.
The issue arises though when we’re feeling frustrated and angry and down for too long. We can blame our bodies for what they’re putting us through and sometimes resent them for making us feel the way that we feel. We can feel like a prisoner in our body. We can feel like our pain is not valid because we have it so often and have to ‘just get on with it’ as it’s become a part of our lives. What feels like a war inside your body can turn into a battle between your head and your physical self with your thoughts leaning towards bitterness and sometimes even hate for yourself, and your body retaliating by causing you more pain.
The rollercoaster of emotions and the mental struggle that comes with chronic pain can give us a distorted view of ourselves and our bodies. Our attitudes towards towards ourselves can change and body image can become a big issue.
Many chronic illnesses are invisible. They aren’t obvious from the outside, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t sometimes have physical symptoms. Swelling, bloating, skin discolouration and rashes are but a few physical symptoms of many conditions. Medications can cause side effects. Weight loss or gain. Digestive issues. The list is endless. All of the physical issues, along with the actual pain, and along with the mental battles, have the potential to create a very distorted and negative self image.
The struggle we feel can manifest in different ways and it is common to feel a degree of distaste towards yourself. If you have to use a walking aid, or if you have to opt for certain clothing for comfort and practicality reasons or of you’re just sick and tired of what your body is doing, it is normal and sadly common to hold that negative view. It’s such a shame that this is so often the case, but this is also the point that relates back to the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn.
You are a badass
You are a badass and your body is incredible. Sometimes it may look different to how it used to and sometimes you may feel different to how you used to, but you know what? In spite of it all, and in spite of the pain, your body carries on. You carry on. We can spend time focusing on the things that we think make our body rubbish like the pain, the swelling or the discolouration or the walking aids, or we can take a look at the bigger picture.
Yes, if you suffer with chronic pain your body may feel alien to you at times, but it still works. It works hard too. Dealing with regular pain is more of an ongoing war than a battle, but you’re the one on the winning side. Up until now you have survived every bad pain day and so has your body. Give yourself some credit.
Your body may not be perfect, but no body is perfect. Yours may work a little differently to other peoples, but we all work differently. Chronic pain is a bitch, but it is not your boss and it does not dictate how you should or shouldn’t feel towards yourself. Yes, some days are easier than others. Yes, sometimes you just want to curl up in a ball and feel a bit sad and have a little cry (and you should when you need to!) But you are a warrior. You are a badass, and your body? It’s fine how it is. Quirks and all.