Anxiety, chronicpain, Empathy, Griveving Process, Managing Pain Naturally, mindfulness, Non Resistance, simplify life, spoon theory, Suicide, Suicide and chronic pain, Support for Chronic Pain, Teenagers and Chronic Pain, Worrying, Your Soul

White Noise

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Years ago, when chronic pain ruled my world, the only place I felt heard was alone in the ocean.  I loved the waves crashing over me, melting away the screams that I could no longer manage to voice.  I loved looking out into the endless ocean because it was the only place that gave me hope that life still existed: the ocean expanded so far, I felt that maybe no matter how bad of a place I was in I too could one day expand as the ocean did.  I loved the feeling of being crushed by the rough waves and treading under water as I heard the faint noise of the water above.  What most people feared about the ocean, was what I found as the only peace that still existed in my world of pain.

The Oxford dictionary defines white noise as noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities.  Invisible illnesses such as chronic pain also contain many frequencies with some-what equal intensities.  Chronic pain does not come alone.  Chronic pain is followed by many other white noises: fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, hopelessness, and sadly sometimes suicidal thoughts and ideations.   Over time people forget one has chronic pain and their screams can literally only be heard as white noise.  They feel alone, hopeless, and many find places such as I did with the ocean as the only place he or she feels heard and/or understood.

In 2005 the movie: “White Noise” came out starring Michael Keaton.  He plays a man who loses his wife, Anna unexpectedly and becomes obsessed with finding her on ‘the other side.’  He meets a man who works with the supernatural using a device called: EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon.)  He is a skeptic at first but soon becomes a believer and makes it his lifes mission to speak to his wife through EVP or as others call it, white noise.  I enjoy this genre of film and although this is not my favorite “ghost movie” it does correlate with how I view my own struggle with chronic pain.  Both the character played by Michael Keaton and his deceased wife are trying desperately to speak to one another but all they are able to hear is white noise.  Trying to explain an invisible illness, such as chronic pain comes out to those who do not have chronic pain as white noise.  The words are there but they are not comprehensible to the people we so desperately want to understand us and what we live through each day.

For over ten years I knew no one with chronic pain.  My life was filled with white noise drowned out by the voices of doctors, friends, and family.  No one could hear me and soon my screams could only be heard inside myself.  It was not until I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and entered the Pain Rehab Center that I met other’s who also had chronic pain and my white noise slowly faded away.  I did not need to explain what I felt because I was surrounded by others who felt the same exact way.  I learned so much while at the Mayo Clinic and practice the tools I learned there daily to manage pain without medication or treatment.  However, what I benefited from most was the commonality I found amongst my peers who also had chronic pain.  The worst part of an invisible illness is not being understood.  All you need is one person, whether that be a friend or family member or in my case a total stranger I met in the middle of Minnesota to truly understand how you feel.  I hope that my writings and stories help drown out your own personal white noise.  You are definitely not alone.

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To the Teacher of a Student with Chronic Pain

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“It’s like swimming upstream every time you are awake.”

-Oriana Hill

Middle school is not easy for anyone, whether you are in the ‘popular group,’ the ‘intellectual group’,’ the athletic group,’ ‘the party group,’ and so on.  The popular Eighties film: “The Breakfast Club” pretty much sums up the life of a teenager in their teen years.  I did not fit into any group when I first entered Seventh grade.  My bike accident happened right as summer began after my Sixth grade at a private school.  I was excited for the summer but very anxious to enter a public school where I knew no one and would be the new kid on the block.  My anxieties about entering a brand new school were only intensified after my bike accident when I then had half a shaved head, chronic pain, and a face that was still difficult to recognize even after recovering for three months.  One would think that the students would be cruel to me but it was not just the students that misunderstood me, there were some teachers who truly made that first year at a new school a bigger disaster than it already was.  The funny part is that my scars still were evident: my hair had not grown back all the way, I still had bruises and as I stated before my face was not yet healed by any means.  I was in both physical and emotional pain and I feared going to school every day of the week.

I had one teacher who taught History/Geography in my first year of Middle School.  I had never been very interested in either History or Geography but this class was right before my lunch period where I ate lunch in the bathroom alone daily just so no one could see me and I would not be made fun of or worse be the only kid among one hundred students eating all alone.  I spent the fifty minutes of the class I already did not like watching the clock tick by, dreading the sound of the bell for lunch time.  There are certain moments we never  forget and one of those moments for me happened in this particular class.  I was called to the front of the room to point out a certain state on the map the teacher had hung up on the chalk board.  I could hear the whispers behind me as I timidly walked up to the front of the room, facing thirty other kids.  My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating and I had totally forgotten what the teacher had asked me to point out for the class.  I may have been watching the clock while he was teaching the lesson and had no clue what he had even asked me to do.  Either way, I could not find the state or city the teacher had asked me to find.  He was not kind about my inability to follow his directions and kept pushing me to find what I knew deep down I could not find on this damn map.  After about five minutes, tears welled up in my eyes and I ran out of the classroom and into the nearest bathroom where I slammed the door and let my tears fall.  No one came to see if I was okay.  I stayed there until the bell rang for the dreaded lunch I would be eating in that same bathroom stall.   To this day I have trouble with geography.  Up until a couple of years ago, I thought that Seattle was a state.  There may be no correlation to my ignorance to geography at the age of thirty five and my experiences in Seventh grade but I am sure there has to be some relation.

Eighth grade was a tad easier for me in school.  My visible scars had healed and my hair had grown back and I was able to hide chronic pain for a long time.  I began to have friends and enjoy learning again.  I did not eat lunch in the bathroom and made two friends who are still my closest friends twenty years later.  Nothing was ever easy as I was fighting an invisible battle with pain but at least I did not have the added stress of being put down by certain teachers and peers.  I believe that teachers need to have an extreme sense of empathy just as I had when I was a social worker.  We all need to remember that people are fighting battles we know nothing about.  There is a reason kids act out in school: no one is born “bad” and I truly do not believe there is such a thing as a bad kid.  I could not count on my peers when I entered this new school because I was not only the new kid but I was the new kid who looked like a ‘freak.’  I should have been able to rely on my teachers and there were many that were extremely helpful to me and without their empathy and support, I am not sure I would have made it through that first year of middle school.  Just because one is a doctor does not mean he or she is a good doctor, just because someone is a parent does not mean he or she is a good parent: the same goes for teachers.  You can have all the knowledge in the world of Geometry and World History but what students need to learn the most is how to treat other people.  I will never understand how Geography is more important that empathy.  I thank this teacher for being so hard on me and teaching me what I know is not okay.  No, I never found that damn state on the pull down map during that Geography class but I did learn strength and I learned how important it is not to judge someone no matter what they look like and I started to learn how important empathy is.

 

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How Far I Traveled For Relief

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“You keep a lot to yourself because it’s difficult to find people who understand.”

Unknown

I traveled a third of my life in the search for a cure to chronic pain.  My bike accident happened in a little town called Haddonfield, NJ.  I was your average young teenager who was excited because summer had just arrived and I had three months to hang out with my friends, lay out in my back yard with a book, watch movies, have sleepovers, and just be a kid.  Soon after school had let out for the summer, I decided to get on my pink cruiser and ride to the video store in town.  I do not remember the bike ride there, nor the movie I rented but I vividly remember the ride back and the bag containing the irrelevant movie I had rented for the day.  Who knew that a tiny plastic bag and a bike tire could change someone’s life forever?  I was halfway home when that little plastic bag hit the front wheel of my bike tire and sent my entire little body into a stone wall.  The senses we take for granted are the ones that I remember most five minutes after the biggest fall of my life.  I remember the sounds of car tires coming to a stop and people yelling: “Are you okay?”  I remember the intense taste I had in my mouth as I was eating a mint at the time of my fall.  I remember the weight of my bike on top of me.  However, I have no recollection of pain: just indescribable fear.  Cell phones did not exist in the average person’s life back in 1994 so I could not call the only person I wanted to, my dad.  Call me stupid, stubborn, or shocked but I decided to leave my bike and walk home.  I told the drivers who had stopped that I was fine and went on my way holding that little bag in my left hand as my right arm had definitely stopped working.  I knew I had broken a bone or two.  I knew that my head was pounding but I had no idea that my brain was bleeding on the inside.  Even before I realized I was very injured and my life had literally changed forever, I could not ask for help.  Maybe I knew then, before the pain really began that no one would ever understand me again.

Hours later I was in an ambulance having the clothes I was wearing cut off from my body.  Hours later I was saying goodbye to my family as I was rushed into surgery.  I do not remember how I felt but I do remember the faces on the people I loved most.  They were afraid and as I slowly fell asleep I started to understand the severity of the situation.  I awoke the next day hooked up to a feeding tube, a catheter, and surrounded by other patients who were also in critical condition.  I forgot about my fall and tried to get up, not realizing that I was connected to machines that would not allow me to move. Once again, I do not remember the pain I had to have been in, I only remember fear.  I tilted my head the best I could and saw that my dad was asleep in a chair next to me.  He awoke and explained everything that had transpired during the previous twenty four hours.  I spent two weeks or so in the ICU and was then moved to a private room.  The odd thing about the whole experience is that the only pain I remember was the pain of the nurses taking out my feeding tube.  I remember my throat hurting more than my head.  The rest of the summer was spent recovering from what most people never have to recover from: brain surgery.  People visited me constantly and there were flowers, balloons, cards, stuffed animals and I was given any food I wanted.  My loved ones kept telling me, the hard part was over.  I was alive and just needed to rest and re-gain strength to go back to my ‘normal’ life.  No one would have thought that the real pain had just begun. The hardest part was just beginning.

My hair grew back, my bones healed, and after about a year one could not tell from the outside that I had ever had an accident.  I must have been told a million times how lucky I was but for the next twelve years, I felt like the unluckiest person in the world.  Of course I remember pain now and for that matter fear.  Chronic pain started slowly and I thought for sure that a neurologist could take away my now invisible pain.  I had brain surgery and survived, surely this was just a bump in the road.  This was not a bump, this was a never ending mountain I was facing.  After the first neurologist put me on medications I hated and that did not relieve my pain at all, we tried another neurologist and then another and so on.  After I had seen a handful of neurologists, we tried every specialist you can imagine: allergists, chiropractors, natropaths, massage therapists, various surgeons who promised to cure my pain by cutting off nerve endings from my face.  I traveled to many different cities including Denver, Colorado in hopes of pain relief.  I spent over ten years traveling to some of the most amazing places in the world that gave me no enjoyment, just more pain and sadness.  The final destination was Rochester, MN where I spent about three months.  It was there that I learned how to accept chronic pain and learned how to mange it without a cure, treatments, or medications.  I never thought I would say that the small city of Rochester, MN is where my life began again.  However, life as I had once known it has never been the same.

I have written this a few times before but for anyone who does not have chronic pain, please read the following if you have a loved one with this invisible illness.  Brain surgery was a walk in the park compared to a life with chronic pain.  I would have brain surgery every year if it meant that I never had this invisible illness.  I did spend a huge portion of my life traveling around the country for a cure to chronic pain and I will never regret my decision to accept chronic pain and manage it naturally.   However, I still have chronic pain but chronic pain does not control my life.  I have had to change and adjust how I live my life to a degree a person without chronic pain cannot fathom but given my invisible illness, I would not have it any other way.  My travels now come within myself.  I do not need to drive or fly to a different place in hopes to find relief.  My travels are at times more difficult now because I must travel within my own mind and body to control my pain.  My travels with chronic pain will probably never end but the commute is a lot shorter. The journey with chronic pain does not ever end, one just has to find a route that is best for them.

 

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Feeling Buried Alive: Chronic Pain

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I remember when I was a young girl talking with friends about the worst possible way to die and each of us had a different scary scenario for death.  I have no idea why we talked about such things although the conversations were probably correlated to the scary movies we watched in the Eighties and Nineties such as: “Childs Play” and “Sleeping With the Enemy.”  We were a generation drawn to scary movies.  My biggest fear was being buried alive: that was always my answer if this random/crazy conversation came up.  I must have seen a movie or show about someone being buried alive because ever since then I have had some form of Claustrophobia.  My younger brother and I used to wrestle as children and I literally would scream bloody murder if he (who was stronger despite our age difference) pinned me down for too long.  I felt as if I was suffocating and worse trapped with no control.  Fast forward many years and I found myself living in MRI machines because of my bike accident and subsequent chronic pain.  It came to a point that I truly could not bear another MRI because I hated feeling trapped in the machine and literally had panic attacks that if any of my doctor’s needed an MRI, I was given some sort of sedative to relax me.  They never worked.  My worst case scenario of how I would die was coming true despite me surviving my accident: I felt buried alive in more ways than one.

I was around the age of fourteen when I began my search for a cure to chronic pain.  With each day, month, and year I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into the ground.  Maybe that is where the term ‘rock bottom’ comes from however I found myself under a pile of rocks that caused me to actually want to die because I could not bear another day in my battle with chronic pain and worse searching for a non-existent cure.  I was not living and every moment of every day felt as if I was trapped inside my own body: a body of pain.  I am thirty-five now, managing pain naturally, and living a life of joy and gratitude as opposed to a life of pain.  With that said, I still have moments where I freeze in fear and pain.  I feel as if I am back in that MRI machine: gasping for air, unable to breathe, unable to move, trapped.  These moments happen either as I am trying to fall asleep or when I first awake.  Either way, the moments always happen when I am in bed.  I can manage the mornings when this happens much more easily  than I am able to do at night time.  If I wake up with this feeling of fear and being literally stuck, I can will myself out of bed and exercise.  People think I am crazy because I awake so early and exercise before the sun is up at times but this is what works for me.  Exercise is truly one of my biggest tools for managing pain without pain managing me.

However, nighttime is different.  Most nights I am way too tired to focus on pain or the random fears that enter my mind causing me to sweat, breathe heavily, have heart palpitations, and eventually make myself get up and just walk around the house.  Then I get in bed and try to sleep again and I am back in that MRI machine: STUCK.  This happens rarely but there are those nights where I cannot even find enough gumption to read or watch something meaningless on television.  Pain, fear, and the emotions that come with this invisible illness take over my mind and body.  I do not have restless leg syndrome but know what it feels like because when nights like this happen to me, I cannot stop moving and yet I feel trapped inside myself.  It is literally hell on earth.  I cannot believe I lived in this state of pain and panic for over a decade.  And people wonder why the number one reason a person with chronic pain dies is by suicide.  I made it.  That is what gets me through theses horrific nights: knowing that the feelings I am feeling will be gone but they are torture nonetheless.

If you ask my daughter why people are mean, she will respond with this: “Because they are sad inside.”  Never judge a person by how they look on the outside or how they treat you.  People will love you and people will hate you and none of it will have anything to do with you. Chronic pain is usually invisible and I try to remember when someone is rude to me or does not like me that they too could be fighting a battle I know nothing about.

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Guilt and Chronic Pain

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“You are not obligated to do everything a healthy person does.  You are not obligated to be an inspiration. You are not obligated to hide your illness to make other’s comfortable.  You are allowed to know your limits.  You are allowed to have bad days.  It is not your fault if other people leave you because of your illness.  It is not your fault that you have an invisible illness.  You do not have to apologize for something that is out of your control.”

Unknown

I never truly acknowledged the amount of pressure and guilt I put on myself until my daughter, who is now four was born.  I have always been a perfectionist but I never want to fail as a mother in any way, shape or form.  However, I believe my quest to be the perfect mom at times causes my anxiety levels and stress levels to go up which in turn increases my pain levels or at least I notice my chronic pain more.  There are things I did not have as a child that I want my children to have, but deep down I take this motherhood thing to a whole new level.  I love my daughter more than anything in this world and as most parents know it is a love that is unlike any other love in the world.  The love I have for my daughter scares me at times.  I wonder am I doing this or that right, analyze her actions as ‘age appropriate’ or dare I use the term: ‘normal.’  I never want her to be sad, feel abandoned or have a bad day.  The pressure I put on myself to make my daughter happy can at times be unhealthy for both of us.  That realization and throwing that sentence out into the world is not easy for me to do.  I am very much like other mothers I know and am friends with but I believe some of my childhood and my journey with chronic pain has shaped me into a mother who worries way too much about how her daughter is doing/feeling/acting and not enough time focusing on how I am doing/feeling/acting.   Cognitively I know and most of us realize this: the happier and less stressed/healthier I am, the happier my daughter will be no matter what we are doing.

I had an appointment for a physical scheduled for this gloomy Monday morning and I truly hate going to the doctor’s office because it reminds me of my ten year search to find a cure to chronic pain, during which I LIVED in the offices of every doctor imaginable but what I now dislike more is the guilt I put on myself because my four year old comes with me.  I almost cancelled (in hindsight I wish I had) because I did not want to drag her to a doctor’s office even though it is harder on my than her: thoughts truly do create our reality.  I packed snacks, games, books, magazines, colored pencils: the works just in case the wait was long which it ended up being: way too long of a wait for that matter.  After an hour and a half in the waiting room, I honestly could not take waiting any longer and Kayci had been patient up until we passed the sixty minute mark.  I told the front desk I would have to re-schedule and decided to go to a different office as I got very bad energy from the office and honestly the receptionists were very rude.  I have learned to follow my intuition and for some obvious and not so obvious reasons this is not a doctor’s office I ever want to go to again much less bring my four year old to.  The guilt kept getting worse as the clock ticked by and the loud TV screamed out medical advice.  By the time I finally made a choice to leave, I could feel my chronic pain mounting which I am usually able to put on the back burner.  It actually felt as if I had gone there for chronic pain and I have not seen any doctor for pain for years.  I think that is where my guilt stems from and that is absolutely ridiculous.

I did search for a cure for over a decade.  I did drop out of college for two years because my quest to cure my chronic pain took over my entire being.  I do feel that I lost ten years of my life but that is why I decided to learn how to manage chronic pain naturally.  With that choice, I must go easier on myself especially when it comes to parenting.   I am so far from perfect and have made many mistakes in my life but I know one thing and that is that I am a great mom.  If there was such a thing as a perfect mom, we would be living the life of Stepford Wives and I am sure half of their children are rebelling somewhere in the world.  I want to let go of the guilt.  I want us all to let go of any guilt we feel due to our invisible illness whether that be chronic pain or not.  I did not ask to fall off of my bike and have brain surgery.  I did not ask to live a life with chronic pain.  Neither did any of you.  I am exhausted from being so hard on myself and living in the world of apologies.  How many times a day do you find yourself saying: “I’m sorry.”  We are a generation (especially females) of guilt, feeling as if we are not enough, and saying the two words: “I’m sorry” at least ten times a day.   We are doing the best we can.  Are other people putting pressure on us or are we doing it to ourselves?  We can blame society, our friends, our family but in the end we need to stand up for ourselves and take care of our health and happiness because we are our biggest enemy which is such a shame.  Life is too damn short to live one more second in the realm of guilt.  It is odd, I know my readers are doing the best they can with their invisible illness and I am sure you feel the same about me.  Why do we credit others so much and forget the person that matters more than anyone in our lives: OURSEVLES.

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Loneliness: Is It Such a Bad Thing?

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“loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself”

-rupi kaur

Loneliness comes in many forms and there is a huge correlation between chronic pain and feeling desperately alone.  Many people (as I once did) isolate themselves from their friends, family, and the world when in the wraths of chronic pain.  Fifteen years ago I spent my days alone in doctor’s offices or in bed crying each and every day away.  I isolated myself for many reasons: I was jealous of everyone who did not live in pain every day of every week, I felt that no one would possibly want to be around someone who was once a fun, energetic girl who turned into a negative, sad, angry person and I honestly came to a point in my journey with chronic pain where I could no longer fake being happy because pain had taken over my body, mind and spirit.  I felt alone whether I was with people or by myself: the latter just took away the fakeness I could no longer muster up for people whom I believed would end up deserting me anyways because of my invisible illness.

I am at a different place with chronic pain and no longer find myself isolating from the world.  I have very close friends whom I can share my truest feelings with, a family I adore, a daughter who is the biggest miracle to ever enter my life, and those random people who come in and out of your life because of where you spend your time.  However, there are times I feel absolutely alone, misunderstood in ways I am not even sure those with chronic pain would understand as I am not sure there is a correlation between my personal loneliness at times and my invisible illness.

I am Jessica and at times I feel I should not only use my name as a noun but as a verb as well.  People always tell me that I am the truest Gemini they have ever met because I am diverse in many ways and beat to my own drum.  To be honest I no longer give a ton of credibility to astrology but there are many commonalities I have with the descriptions of a Gemini.  Not to mention, I did at the age of eighteen get a tattoo of the Gemini symbol on my back: brilliant teenage move, NOT.  I remember when I got the tattoo I was very down and battling chronic pain like a beast attacking my entire being.  I wanted a tattoo and it is true once you get one you tend to want more.  There was a reason I chose my horoscope symbol as my first tattoo.  I had always had a fear of abandonment and my bike accident/chronic pain only intensified this fear, causing me to believe no one I loved would ever stay in my life for too long and because pain was my only hobby, passion, or purpose in life I had no idea what to get for a tattoo.  I decided to get the Gemini symbol because it was one thing I could think of that would never change.  I was born on June 7th and no one could ever take away my birthdate, nor my astrological sign.  As odd as it may sound, I had no identity but chronic pain and I definitely did not want the word PAIN drilled into my skin more than it already was.

As I was working our this morning I looked over at a book I keep on an end table in our living room entitled: Simple Abundance.  I love this book and used to read it daily, highlighting different points that stood out to me and made sense in my life today.  Over the past year or so it has become a book for decoration like the picture frames placed in various places throughout our home.  I was doing a cardio/interval training workout that allots one to two minutes in-between exercises to breathe and drink some water.  During those two minutes I picked up this much needed book that I allowed to turn into a decoration and began reading what I had once highlighted.  Then it hit me, like a ton of soft bricks.  I have been feeling this sense of loneliness because I am not taking the time I truly need for myself.  I am rarely, if ever alone and yet have been feeling this sense of loneliness which is not a common feeling for me.  Then again, my truest partner in crime is my four year old daughter and it is hard to get a lot of soulful, intellectual time when teaching her to swim or coloring in one of her many coloring books.  I would not give any of our time up for the world but I do need to start looking within myself again and work on reading the books that help me in my journey with life and chronic pain and focus on meditation again.  I love the quote above because maybe loneliness is not a horrible thing.  Maybe it is our souls way of letting us know we are not giving ourselves the attention that only we are able to give ourselves.

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All Pain is REAL

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My family and I watched the movie last night entitled: “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day” starring Steve Carrel.  The movie is based on my favorite children’s book and I was extremely impressed by how funny, witty, and thought provoking the movie turned out to be.  I honestly cannot wait to watch it again.  I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for the most part and the reason was due to pain, however it was not due to chronic pain.  That sentence may only make sense to those who also suffer from chronic pain.

One of my main tools for managing pain naturally is not talking about it.  However, for this post I must point out where exactly my chronic pain is located.  Because of my bike accident and subsequent brain surgery my pain is located in my face, head and neck.  I had many surgeries to “cure” my chronic pain before I began managing it naturally which only made my chronic pain that much worse.  However, this week I had my first real back ache.  Of course, I have had back issues since my accident but not chronically.  The worst of my chronic pain has always been in my face and head.  For over ten years, while I was searching for a cure to my chronic pain I took many medications, was at the doctor’s at least twice a week, and lived my life on the search for a cure for my invisible illness.  I never slept because the pain was too intense and over the years as each doctor, medication, and surgery did not relieve my pain I became depressed, agitated, angry, and began to isolate myself because I could not deal with being around anyone, even my family because pain had totally took over my entire existence.  Jessica and Pain were one of the same.

When I did hit my rock bottom and truly was at my worst: living in Boulder Colorado, not going to school, seeing doctors constantly, drinking all the time with friends, and crying day in and day out I finally went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  I unwillingly entered a program called the Pain Rehab Center where I learned how to manage pain naturally.  To this day I utilize the tools I learned there and have found a fulfilling life despite pain.  When I first entered the program I was pissed, and more depressed than ever.  No one looked sick.  Then again I did not look sick either but at the time I was so focused on my pain I could not imagine anyone else feeling as terrible as I did.   At that point I thought my pain had to be visible because it was all I could see.   There were about twenty people in my group and all had chronic pain but no one was talking about their pain.  Some people were laughing, walking around, reading, playing board games, emailing friends as I sat there thinking: “This is crap.  I could never be able to read or email a friend because my pain is way too much to bear.  It is hard enough to sit in a chair much less laugh with people I do not know.”  I wanted to quit.  My dad being my voice of reason urged me to stay in Minnesota and give the program a chance.  A few days in I began to hear people’s stories.  Turns out everyone did have chronic pain but no one had had brain surgery or pain in their face and head.  Some people had chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, phantom leg pain, migraines, etc.  I always thought having any kind of chronic pain other than my own would be better.  Having chronic pain throughout my face and head was and can still be torture.  I thought back then if I had back pain or phantom pain I could at least read or do this or that.  I learned this week how wrong my thoughts back then were/are.

I am not sure why I have had a back ache this past week.  I came down with a stomach virus just yesterday as well so maybe they are correlated but I really do not care why my back hurts.  I learned a long time ago that trying to figure out why something hurts will only bring more attention to the pain.  This is not always a good thing and as a disclaimer I would like to say that it is always important to not ignore pain or any ailment for too long as there are times something could be seriously wrong.  However, I knew nothing was life threatening and I was just coming down with something and/or had over worked my muscles through exercise or just not taking enough breaks.  However, severe back pain is awful!!!!  I had insomnia for over three nights.  As I was laying in bed those nights that turned into mornings I remembered all those in the Pain Rehab Center with me.  I was a hypocrite at the time.  Pain is pain.  Chronic pain is chronic pain: visible or invisible.  Now I know what severe back pain feels like and it is just as bad as my chronic pain is: just in a different area of my body.  I am thankful to not have chronic back pain and as it is slowly going away I am grateful.   All of us who have chronic pain have critics within our life and those who are not in our life.  Many people do not believe our pain.  There is a huge stigma related to invisible illnesses.  I have been writing for over three years in hopes to help those with chronic pain and all invisible illnesses for that matter.  We need to stick together.  Does it matter where our pain is?  Chronic pain is an invisible illness that affects our lives in more ways that I can count.  Why even ask another where someone’s pain is located?  I learned this week after days of severe back pain that that pain was no different than when I was in the wraths of hell with my chronic pain which is located in my face, head, and neck.  There is enough judgement surrounding chronic pain.  Let us never judge one another who understand chronic pain.  Pain is pain and we need to be a support system not a group of individuals trying to figure out whose pain is worse than someone else’s.  Do not forget the three most important words to say to one with any invisible illness: I BELIEVE YOU.

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