How Loved Ones Can Make us Feel

Anybody with chronic pain ever feel like this is what your friends or family are thinking? I sure as hell know I used to! I received a question last night that I felt was important and appropriate enough to write about. How to respond to people when asked: “How are you feeling?” People mean well (most of the time) but it is humanely impossible for people without chronic pain to understand what this condition is like. How many times can you say to someone: “awful, thanks.” It gets old for everyone. Prior to how I manage my pain now I literally never really knew how to respond to people. I never wanted pity and I never wanted people to think I was crazy or just seeking attention. Although once I started hitting rock bottom people stopped asking how I was feeling. It was pretty obvious. Laying in a bed crying all day and drinking most nights pretty much summed up how I was feeling.

Caregivers or the people who love a person with chronic pain truly have zero clue how to help. How could they, when we ourselves are usually at a loss for what to do. My dad fought with me for ten years searching for a cure. As a parent, I now know I would do absolutely anything if my daughter was suffering just as my dad did. However, it has to be frustrating for caregivers too. One of my good friends from the Mayo Clinic who suffered chronic pain lost her husband to suicide. I will never know his exact reasons but I do know he felt so helpless that he was unable to help his wife with her pain. I am sure there were other reasons but I met this man at the Mayo Clinic and he shed many tears of frustration and loss because he did not know how to help his wife.

As my readers know I never say the word pain unless it comes to acute pain. During labor I screamed bloody murder because it is no picnic pushing a child out of you! However, I will say to my loved ones if my pain level is high: “I am having a difficult day.” Whichever point you are at with your journey with chronic pain and do not know how to respond to someone when they ask: “how are you feeling” I suggest this answer: “I am doing the best I can.” Do not worry about bringing people down. We all forget that everyone is fighting battles we know nothing about. People are very self involved. I do not mean this in a negative manner but it is true. We are all living busy, stressful, crazy lives. Focus on what is best for you. We all need to stop focusing so much on what others are thinking and feeling. It truly gets us nowhere: chronic pain or no chronic pain.

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How Loved Ones Can Make us Feel

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7 thoughts on “How Loved Ones Can Make us Feel

  1. I generally brush those questions off with a “good days and bad days” answer. I personally hate dwelling on being sick and I’ll never forget a discussion we had in a psych nursing class back in the day. The idea was that that question was just posed out of routine politeness and that the person asking really didn’t listen to our answers. We were challenged to answer with something other than “fine thank you” simply to see if we could engage the person asking. Most of the time the person asking simply moved onto the next subject without actually hearing our response or asking further questions. I suppose the conclusion was that the question has really become meaningless.

  2. Lisa Cooper says:

    I can understand why a caregiver might commit suicide. There are times when I want to because I feel so helpless seeing my son’s pain get worse instead of better. I’m so glad that he manages to be optimistic despite the difficulties he faces.

  3. It is so hard not to voice the pain we suffer each and every day, and I can see why there is guilt and a loss of hope with those who love us most. They often blame themselves for not being able to help, and can develop a feeling of uselessness. It’s funny how the ones who suffer the most must tiptoe around the healthy, and be careful not to impose too much on their day to day healthy lives with our sad and hurtful state. We really do need to focus on what we can accomplish, and not what we’re not, especially with loved ones around. Saying, ” Look! I got out of bed, showered, got a load of laundry done and posted a blog!” is far more encouraging and supportive to not only us, but those around us, than using that same sentence but adding one word: Only. I “only” accomplished this. Or that. No! Regardless of how much we know we can do so much more if only our bodies would let us, we can slowly kill ourselves and those who wish the same for us. The difference between failing and accomplishment is the outlook, the attitude, and whether or not we give up. Negative words make us feel like failures, while positive remind us that we really did do something. Cheesy, and a bit silly sounding, but true.

  4. Linny says:

    I often read your posts in pure awe and amazement. You are helping so many people and I am so proud of you for sharing your insight and story. Xox

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