Winning at Living With Chronic Pain | Part 1
Those of you more familiar with me will know that I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia, and this May 12th is the official International Fibromyalgia & M.E Awareness Day.
Fibromyalgia and M.E (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) are very similar in their symptoms and daily effect on life, which is why the awareness day is shared by both conditions. Whilst the main difference is that M.E is a post viral condition and Fibromyalgia associated with trauma, both syndromes cause widespread muscle and ligament pain together with debilitating fatigue. Both conditions are incurable, which personally I find the most concerning aspect.
Knowing you have a condition for life that has no cure and will cause you nothing but agony, pain and weakness really is a difficult diagnosis to stomach. Yes, you’ll have some days more manageable than others, but with an irregular pattern of flares and remission periods you never know whether the current day is the beginning or near the end of an exhausting symptom sprint. And that’s seriously depressing.
Whether you’ve lived with chronic pain for the past year or last decade, the feeling of fear and doubt is the same. Worry for your future and panic over what state your health could be in within the next year. The fact remains, you will have to learn to live with a daily battle of aches and pains. Now that’s daunting.
Fatigue, with it’s muscle weakness, mental exhaustion and physical tiredness is perhaps the hardest symptom of a chronic pain condition because it’s something you experience persistently, albeit with fluctuations. If pain causes you to have a bad night’s sleep you’re even more of a zombie the following day, and have more aches and pains because of that poor rest. You get caught in a cycle where you never seem to win, which in itself is exhausting. Never seeing the end is exhausting. Never being able to properly rest is exhausting.
Pain and weakness of the body affects how we mentally cope and survive. Feeling stuck in a rut of the same old, same old, tears us down and strips any positivity you thought you had left. Negativity kicks in because you feel down and you begin churning over pessimistic thoughts and self loathing. It’s a trap so easy to trip into and potentially life threatening if you’re not aware of the pattern and don’t have a save plan. When you’re housebound with only the internet for social comfort it’s incredibly easy to allow sadness to blur sense.
I’ve lived with chronic pain, fatigue and depression for the past 16 years – half my life spent crying, mulling over my life’s worth and living on a rollercoaster of optimism and self attack. It’s no life to lead and I don’t want you thinking it’s all negative and pointless from diagnosis onwards. Chronic pain is a long term life style you didn’t choose, but you can adapt and that’s the key to win at living.