I empathize with anyone who has to live with any invisible illness, especially chronic pain. My bike accident happened in my young teens so I lived my teen years with chronic pain, my twenties with chronic pain, and now into my thirties I still have chronic pain. Looking back, the most difficult ages of my chronic pain journey were my teen years and early twenties. As a teenager we are all still trying to figure out who we are. Hell, I am thirty two and I am still on a journey to truly find myself. However, with age comes wisdom and we hopefully stop caring what other’s think and feel about us.
As a teenager with chronic pain I was not only trying to “fit in” but I was also trying to figure out how to get rid of my chronic pain. I was beyond jealous of my peers who had the wishes noted in this post. I went along with what everyone else said because if I complained about the pain I was feeling I just felt more alone. Inside I was filled with such jealously because as much as I hated having braces I hated the never ending physical pain I was feeling so much more. It never got easier. Each year seemed to get harder and harder. I do not know if the pain was actually getting worse each year or the hopelessness of ever finding relief just grew so much each year that the perception of pain was heightened.
The beginning of college was no easier. I began my Freshman year of college at a school only about two hours from my home. I was able to drive home any time if I needed to. But once again, I was trying to “fit in” and still trying to figure out how to get rid of my pain. One’s first year of college is supposed to be amazing and for me it was one of the loneliest years of my life. I had to pretend even harder to be okay because I did not go to school with anyone who knew me from my teen years. It was like reliving high school but worse because the one person who I knew I could count on was two hours away. I heard girls complaining of certain boys not liking them, not getting into the right sorority, and not being invited to the cool parties. I was more jealous than I have ever been in my life. I wanted to scream at every girl: “Who the hell cares if you are in a cool sorority or have the perfect hair? You don’t feel pain every second of every day! You should be so grateful!”
Now, I am thirty two years old and I still have chronic pain but I finally have the tools and knowledge needed to manage it and live happily. When I think back to those teen years and most of my twenties I honestly do not know how I made it. But, I did. And you will too. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and do your best. The answers will come to you. I fell off a bike, had brain surgery, and have lived with chronic pain since. If I, the age of thirty two can live a happy life you can and will too. You just cannot ever give up. Being a teenager with chronic pain seems like such a horrible punishment but believe me there is some hidden reason you have yet to discover as to why you have been given such a shitty set of cards. If you are a teenager reading this then I know you will be okay.