One of the hardest struggles with chronic pain is being surrounded by people who have no idea what chronic pain means and what you are actually feeling. It is the loneliest feeling in the world. I cannot even count the number of times I used to say: “I’m fine” to people when I honestly felt like I was dying inside. I’m fine was such an easier response then: “I am in so much pain and no doctor or surgery or medication can help me. I am alive but no longer living and I think about dying every second of every day.” Saying “I’m fine” was a much quicker response with a lot less questions.
People no longer ask me if I am okay regarding chronic pain and I am very thankful for that. After I learned to manage chronic pain naturally and was learning to not focus on pain I had to come up with a way to tell my loved ones and friends to not ask me how I was doing. That was one of my biggest fears leaving the Mayo Clinic. I was afraid that everyone would think that I was somehow magically “cured” of chronic pain and could do anything and everything everyone else did. This was the furthest thing from the truth and I was actually about to do the hardest thing in my life: enter the world with chronic pain and manage it naturally. At the Mayo Clinic I was surrounded by others who had chronic pain and understood my struggles and life. Returning home I knew I would be on my own in my new natural journey with chronic pain. I ended up writing an email or letter to my closest friends and family explaining that I still had chronic pain but was learning how to manage it naturally and was working on not thinking about the pain and therefor did not want to talk about pain. I learned to say: “I am having a difficult day” when was really struggling with pain so as not to have to use the word pain. My loved ones still did not understand but how could they? I can empathize with people dealing with cancer but cannot possibly understand what they are going through. This drove me insane for such a long time but as I grew stronger and stronger it no longer bothered me. Once in a blue moon it does bother me when my loved ones complain of a headache because I want to scream: “I had brain surgery! I have a headache every second of every day and it never does away! Deal with it!” However, I have to shut my mouth. I am great with helping people as long as it does not have to do with pain in their heads or faces.
If you have a loved one who has chronic pain please know that when they say: “I’m fine” it does not always mean that he or she is fine. Being a caregiver or loving someone who has chronic pain can be extremely difficult. I do not have all the answers on how to help your loved one with chronic pain. The best thing you can do is love them and just let them know you are there if they need help. The best words you can say to someone with chronic pain is :” I believe you. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be in pain all the time but I am here for you.”