One of the hardest struggles I dealt with in my life with chronic pain was losing friends. At first II lost friends because of my insane behavior at times when we would be out and everyone was having a good time and I would be the girl curled up in a ball crying my eyes out about how I just wanted to die to not have to live another day in pain. I was a lot for people to handle in my late teens/early twenties. I still have a few very close friends who have known me through the ups and downs of my chronic pain battle. My best friend has been my friend since we were thirteen and she has seen it all and although we have had minor issues in our friendship, I was always able to count on her and me her.
I never lost drinking friends during college years because I was “fun.” I loved going out with my friends in college and drinking till all hours and then having hangover parties filled with pizza and movies. I enjoyed my social life but drinking with my friends only took the pain away for a little bit and alcohol being a depressant really wasn’t a great help with the depression I was already facing with chronic pain.
After my stay at the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehab Center I changed….a LOT. I went there a hot mess and left there off medicine, exercising, practicing mindfulness, eating healthy, and having hope. This caused me to lose “friends” as well. I was still the same Jessica, but all my behaviors were different. Instead of being out having drinking at ten pm, I was curled up watching reality TV with hot chocolate. Instead of having a hangover get together, I was awake at five am doing exercise videos. I had to learn to say no to certain (most) events I was invited to, because for one I didn’t want to be around partying and two I was (still am) learning how to manage my time management. I have learned I am a morning person and that is when I feel best. I practice moderation the best I can but it is definitely more difficult to do so with a little toddler at your feet. At the end of the day, I just want to chill and I know by doing that the next day I will be able to manage my chronic pain better. My friends joke I am like an eighty year old woman at night because we eat dinner around five, I give my daughter a bath, read, watch The Wiggles, put her to bed, grab myself a snack and read.
My social life with chronic pain has improved a great deal as I have gotten older because in my thirties and as a mother it is easier to find people who live the lifestyle you do. It can get lonely though at times and that is just part of the chronic pain deal for me. I cherish the friends I have and they respect the choices I make and the friends I have had since I was a little girl are more proud of me than ever.
If you have chronic pain and are struggling with a social life (wow could I sound more like a commercial haha) know that you are not alone and it will get better! There are more people out there suffering from an invisible illness than you think. Ok, got this little person at my feet begging for attention. Never a lonely moment with this lover!