One of the key components of managing chronic pain naturally for myself is moderation, which can also be the most difficult. I want to go back in time to when I had zero clue on how to manage chronic pain and was literally hanging by a thread when it came to living any kind of life.
Once I realized I had chronic pain I thought for sure there was a cure. In the beginning stages I was hopeful and very encouraged by a series of professionals. I do not even think I became aware of the term chronic pain at my young age. I had been through brain surgery and survived, surely the pain I was experiencing would be cured as well. After a few months I became discouraged, after a year I experienced some hopelessness, after multiple years I felt desperation.
I still wanted a life despite the fact that my whole being revolved around chronic pain and finding a cure and if not a cure just some damn relief. I still wanted to have friends, a social life, and a significant other. My hardest years were my college years when all these things are very common and healthy. I had friends and was living a life but I was not happy. I always went out with friends but at a very high price. The only way I was truly able to enjoy myself while being in severe pain was to drink. Luckily (or so I thought) drinking was pretty common amongst my friends and I and most people are quite aware that college/partying go hand in hand. I was going to school full time, going to the doctors part time, and carrying on a social life. The only way I knew how to numb my physical pain was with alcohol. Pre-gaming for me was a must. I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends and not think about or feel the pain that I lived with all day/night. I usually ended up being the most drunk and making a total ass out of myself and later cried myself to sleep. I never wanted to say no to any event or activity in the fear that I may lose my friends and further more prove that I had what they called “chronic pain.” I wanted to normal and be around everyone. I ended up overdoing it so much that drinking/self medicating became too much for me or my friends to deal with. The life of the party slowly became the downer of the party. I lost friends due to my behavior when partying and I lost friends due to my behavior dead sober. Nobody understood what chronic pain was and what was happening to the Jessica people had loved and I couldn’t blame them: I had no clue what was happening to me either. It was not until I went to the Mayo Clinic and learned how to manage pain naturally that I even really heard the term “chronic pain.”
Now, years later I still have chronic pain but I have reached a point of acceptance and I know how to manage it and I am living the life I want to live. Moderation was not a term I had ever used until I came to the point of acceptance with chronic pain. I now have to practice moderation just as I needed to all those years but had no idea how or why. This picture on this post was taken last weekend at the end of my run with my two year old. Yes, it is a “selfie.” A term unlike chronic pain I was not introduced to back when chronic pain was intolerable. I pushed Kayci for about four miles or so and wanted to keep going. I love running. If my body allowed it I would run for hours just listening to music and zoning out. The only thing I love more than running is running with my daughter with the ocean in the background. Could I run eight miles pushing my running stroller with my twenty-six pound daughter in it: sure. Would I be able to do much more after the run was over: nope. I usually do not want to stop running unless it is cold out. I have to force myself to stop so that I am able to do the other things in my daily life that make me and my family healthy and happy. If I had ran more than four miles that day I would not have been able to collect seashells with my two year old or play at the playground or enjoyed my book once she was asleep. I also have to say no to certain events people ask me to join. It may at times come off as selfish to others but I have to let all guilt go. I know what is too much for me and I know my limitations. For example if a friend/family member asks me to do something a certain night and I know I will be busy that entire day I force myself to say no. I have to. If I go I will end up being miserable and usually in an argument because I went against my inner wisdom. I know my limitations. I do still feel guilty at times but it is so much better than being unhealthy and unhappy.
Moderation has been one of the hardest tools in my chronic pain management program. I am a people pleaser, I want people to like me and I want to be there for everyone. I hate saying no. I hate that I have lost friends due to people viewing me as “self involved” or “selfish.” I have a family now, saying no to others has become even more prominent now that I have a daughter and am planning on having more children. Moderation is just a must. There is no way around it and just like chronic pain I have accepted it. I want to feel as good as I can as often as I can and if I do not practice moderation I will have many more bad days then good.