There are so many aspects of a life with chronic pain that are absolutely awful but I truly do believe the loneliness that comes with this condition is one of the hardest parts. When I was in my deepest, darkest moments of “trying” to manage pain and searching for a cure I was totally and utterly alone. I had great support from my dad, he never left my side and always believed me. My scars were gone from my brain surgery and I looked/look totally fine on the outside (which I hated a long time ago.) I preferred my physical scars and shaved head because then people would not only understand I was in pain but believe me. Sometimes I am not sure what is lonelier: being totally alone in your room cuddled up crying or being surrounded by people knowing that they have no idea how you are feeling on the inside. Some of my loneliest times were when I was surrounded by people. Anyone with an invisible illness can relate to that feeling which leads many of us to isolation and further focus on our pain.
I cannot express how much the Pain Rehab Center helped me at the Mayo Clinic. They taught me how to manage my pain naturally and believed that I could train my brain to not think about pain (I’m starting to really like that saying I made up!) The greatest thing the Mayo Clinic did for me was introduce me to other people who were suffering from chronic pain. The second I started opening up I was interested in where people felt their pain as most people with chronic pain do look perfectly healthy on the outside. However, after a few weeks I realized it didn’t matter where their pain was plus we were taught to try and not talk about our pain. The greatest words I have ever heard were: “I understand, I am going through the same thing.” I was finally not alone. I did not have much in common with my friends from the program but we all had chronic pain and that was enough to bond us for life. Before the Mayo Clinic I searched everywhere for groups or other people who also suffered from chronic pain but found none. I felt like I was literally the only person in the world with an invisible illness. I wish I had had a blog or book to read like what I am writing to the world because I would not have felt so alone. I want all my readers to fully hear me: “I understand more than anyone what you are going through. I know how you feel. I believe you and I am here for you.” I also want you all to know that life can get better with chronic pain. It is not easy but you can do it. Change takes time but know that you are never alone.