I cannot tell you the amount of times people have insinuated chronic pain was “all in my head.” In a way a lot of my pain is in my head considering I had brain surgery hence my chronic pain. However, just because someone looks perfectly okay on the outside means zero about how they feel on the inside. Do you think anyone at the playground ever looks at my daughter and I running around and thinks: “Aw that poor happy looking woman. Looks like she is fighting chronic pain.” Of course not. It is not called an invisible illness for nothing.
Sadly, so many people suffer from chronic pain with no known cause. This is a fact. This is probably one of the most frustrating parts of chronic pain. When we do not know the exact cause we do begin to think it is “all in our heads.” Who the hell would chose to be in pain three hundred and sixty five days a year every year of their life? Most people I have ever met with chronic pain look absolutely amazing on the outside. Because I have chronic pain I know better than to ever question anyone who suffers from chronic pain.
The people closest to me never hear me complain of pain and as I have written I have learned not to even say that word aloud. Ok maybe I said it while giving birth but that is totally different. I do not use the word pain because the more I say it, the more I think about it and the more I think about the more my pain increases. However, I do still (unknowingly) show pain behaviors. Pain behaviors are anything a person does that brings attention to their pain. My biggest pain behavior is rubbing my face. I will also move around a lot because of the pain I am feeling and it can be very hard to get comfortable. The only person who comments on my pain behaviors is my husband. He never knew the Jessica that was a total mess in managing her chronic pain but he knew on our second date the ins and outs of my life which chronic pain is a huge part of. At night, when I am reading or we are watching television I often times start rubbing my face, my neck or even biting my cheeks. I honestly sometimes do not even notice it but if he catches me he points it out and I stop. I work beyond hard to ignore my pain and one of the hardest part of my chronic pain journey have been pain behaviors.
If you have chronic pain and anyone says to you: “Its all in your head.” Even if this person has an MD following his or her name ignore them. Pain is real. Nobody would chose a life of chronic pain. The good news is that you do have the power to focus your thoughts on other things as difficult as that is. It has taken me over a decade to learn to live with chronic pain and not think about it. Oh it still creeps into my mind, especially at night and some days no matter what I do I cannot seem to stop thinking about it but then the next day arrives and it is a new day. I’ll never give up and if you are reading this, I highly doubt you will either. Chronic pain is very real no matter who you look on the outside. Never for a second let anyone or anything cause you to think: “it is all in your head.”