Before I found peace and happiness with chronic pain I hit rock bottom and ran from the pain. I shocked my friends and family and used the last of my money and took off to Boulder, Colorado. I live in New Jersey. I thought maybe if I changed locations and my lifestyle and friends I would forget about my chronic pain. False, it followed me to Colorado and the only thing (at the time) that helped me was partying way too much. I was not the real Jessica though. Everyone thought that was the real me! The fun, crazy, party animal that was always ready to go out to all hours of the night. Most did not know I was just escaping my pain and found it nice that people wanted to hang out with me. The real Jessica is fun, silly and crazy but the real Jessica does not like being unhealthy. I truly enjoyed not being sober because I forgot about the chronic pain. Alcohol and other recreational drugs numbed the pain. But, I was still miserable. I thought escaping to Colorado would help my pain. I went to so many holistic doctors and did everything from aromatherapy to hypnosis. Of course it did not help, I was drinking most nights to all hours with friends and not in a good place to believe anything could help me.
When I decided to go to Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic, I was not escaping. I truly had hit rock bottom and know I needed to find a way to get my chronic pain under control. After months of being in the Pain Rehab Center I learned the tools necessary to manage my chronic pain and drinking was definitely not one of them! It took a very long time but I became happy. I was happy when I went back to Colorado and got my degree in social work and I was happy when I moved home to New Jersey following graduation. Once I was happy my life changed. It took more work (still does) but I am happy. I could have won a million dollars back then and still would have been miserable. No outside circumstances or living in different states made me happy because I was not managing my chronic pain and no matter if I woke up in New Jersey, Kansas, or Colorado I would have been in pain.
Once I changed my outlook on life and was able to manage my chronic pain in a healthy way, I became happy. Once I was happy, my life changed (for the better.) This is still a lesson I need to remember on a daily basis because life is still hard and I have ups and downs. But happiness comes from within and nothing else will keep one happy long term. I cannot depend on my husband or daughter to make me happy. They help my happiness but it is my job to take care of myself and be happy. Some days my husband is in a bad mood or having a hard day. If I depended on him for all my happiness then the days he was in a bad mood would definitely affect me in a very negative way. This is a concept that has taken me many years to learn and something I must work on every day.