“Never explain yourself. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.”
My bike accident happened in my teen years which as my readers know led to my chronic pain. Managing chronic pain as a teenager is one of the most difficult parts of my journey with chronic pain. Aside from going into a new school with half a shaved head and my body totally different, I was also dealing with the difficulty of just becoming a teenager. I am thirty two years old now but I do not think anyone forgets their years as a teenager. What a difficult time for all person’s not just people with chronic pain. The teen years are about making friends, finding yourself, learning about your body, and trying to “fit in.” Then in the blink of an eye Senior year of high school comes up and we are supposed to tell the world what we want to do for the rest of our lives. Very few people know at the age of seventeen what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I am thirty two and I am still figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life; and we ask this of teenagers who are not even able to vote yet! The concept is completely absurd Throw chronic pain into the mix of this madness and it is a wonder we survive. However, we do. I never thought in my teen years as I was trying to balance: spending time with friends, fitting in, studying, and going to various doctors to figure out how to cure my pain that I would end up a social worker and later a stay at home mother helping people deal with chronic pain naturally.
There are two reasons people hide their pain from their peers/friends and family. The first reason is that they do not want people to have to deal with their pain and bring others down. That is a reason I hid my pain from various people throughout my teen and adult years. When my boyfriend in my Junior year of high school asked me to prom I did not reply: “Ummm sorry I have chronic pain and I may or may not have a scheduled doctor appointment on that date.” I did not want anyone to think differently of the “fake Jessica.” I went to that damn prom and sadly had a miserable time. No one knew I was unhappy because I did not want to ruin anyone else’s time.
The second reason and why I “hide” my pain from my peers/friends and family is because I have come to my own conclusion that talking and focusing on my pain only makes my pain worse. I no longer care what people think of me (ask anyone who knows me, I am an open book!) However, as I have explained in previous posts I go with the theory: fake it till I make it. I have spent years training my brain to not think about the pain so there is no way in hell I am going to talk about it. I do not want to give my brain the satisfaction that I am focusing on the pain instead of focusing on life. At times I will say: “I am having a difficult day.” The word pain does not come out of my mouth, ever. I take that back, while giving birth to my daughter I may have screamed the word pain but that had nothing to do with my bike accident.
If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell her this: Jessica, the people that you are wasting so much energy on trying to be someone you are not are not going to be a part of your life for very long. STOP using that energy on people that do not matter. What most teenagers and people in general do not realize is this: We are selfish human beings (not in a negative sense.) We are all dealing with our own lives and battles that we truly rarely have time to focus on other’s flaws and problems. I used so much energy in high school and college trying to make other’s happy and fit in that my pain levels were always high. I wish I had the wisdom I have now when I was younger, however I do have the power to hopefully get through to others who are dealing with things that I dealt with. If you are a teenager or anyone with chronic pain, it is totally okay if you hide your pain. But do not hide it for the wrong reasons. If people think less of you because of your chronic pain you are going to be much happier with them not in your lives. There are two friends that I always showed my true colors to in high school, only two. Those two people many years later remain my best friends. Do not waste your energy on people who do not matter. Focus on yourself and do your best to manage your pain. You have enough on your plate, you do not need extra drama or stress!!! Trust someone who truly knows. Never explain yourself: it is not needed to those who matter.