When the pain first started I would essentially take a break from life in order to cope with the pain. That was back when the pain came and went. Now, the pain is constantly there.
Taking a break from life doesn’t really work when the pain is a constant companion. There’s still bills to pay, grocery shopping to do, work to complete, laundry … So if taking a break from life isn’t an option for coping, then what is?
This is something I struggle with. Sometimes I am proactive and positive and I feel like I can cope. Other days are just dark and endless and the pain screams. Naturally, my sense of despair matches the intensity of the pain. Since I’m never pain-free, on good days at 3/10 I think of the future. On bad days, around a 9/10 (never a 10), everything feels like agony and life feels like a torture chamber with no positives at all.
I don’t want things to be that way. It’s not sustainable. But I can’t seem to Jedi-mind-trick myself out of it. During the good days, I counsel myself, prepare for the dark days and generally tell myself to keep focused on my goals even while in pain. Then the bad days come and everything goes straight to hell. FUBAR. No plan ever survives contact with the enemy, eh? All my support systems and best-laid plans fall away and I inevitably end up distraught and overwhelmed and despairing.
So far, the only technique that sorta-kinda works is being kind with myself. Things have to be pretty terrible for me to not be able to do that.
When I say be kind to myself I mean if I need to take a personal day to just cry myself to sleep, I take it. If I need to work from home because I need to ice and it’ll be in a NSFW area, I do it. If my headaches (a wonderful new addition to my chronic pain) make me too sensitive for the bright fluorescent lights in my office, I say fuck it and walk around all day with very cool sunglasses.
This is different from the typical be-kind-to-yourself shtick I think because it’s about giving yourself permission to not be perfect. I like to be the best, to do the best, to give my best and anything less than is anathema to my self-image. I’ve always wanted to be the person worked for 20 years and never missed a day or never got in late. But this is real life, my life and I have to accept and be OK with just DOING THE BEST I CAN.