“Sometimes I shut down and don’t talk to anyone for days. It’s nothing personal.”
There is an enormous difference between isolation and just shutting down. Isolating one’s self is one of the most common things people do who are battling chronic pain or any invisible illness. I did it for years. I hated being around people because I was always thinking about pain and hated being such a downer to my friends happiness. I was also insanely jealous of the people around me because they seemed genuinely happy and I hated that I was in a room with people who only needed Advil for cramps or a headache. I wanted to scream: “OH MY GOD! I wish that was my problem. I am in physical pain every single day of my life and taking an Advil would be like eating a tic tac when I have not eaten all day and am starving for real food.” I isolated myself all the time. I still remember thinking: what is worse being alone and in pain or being around people but feeling totally alone? Clearly, isolation is never a good thing for long periods of time but I one hundred percent understand why people isolate themselves during their darkest hours of chronic pain.
However, there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. When I was first learning how to manage chronic pain naturally, I had to take time away from everyone in order to focus on my health and happiness. I remember writing an email or maybe was still during the pen and paper ages, either way I wrote to many of my friends as to why I needed alone time. The beginning stages of accepting and managing chronic pain naturally is a full time job. I am not kidding. I had a planner for each day which included every tool I would need to utilize in my day to day life to manage pain naturally. I even included stretching for the first fifteen minutes of my day into my schedule. I followed it deliberately and had to shut everyone out. Have I lost friends because of chronic pain: Hell yes! Does it bother me anymore: NOPE. I do not mean for that to sound cruel but I had to put myself first or I would have never been able to learn how to manage chronic pain naturally in the real world.
Even now, there are days that can go by that I truly have to just shut the outside world out (excluding my two year old, clearly.) Sometimes I fall off track with my chronic pain management and forget to meditate or practice many of the tools I need to survive a happy life. Sometimes, I just need time to be alone because I too go through rough times. Last week is a perfect example. I shut the world out for a good four days because I was very down and just did not have it in me to focus on others. This may sound very selfish but it was very necessary. I was/am still there for the people I love and my readers but it is difficult at times to help others while you are deeply hurting. No more apologies! It is okay to put your health first. You cannot help anyone else until you are able to help yourself. You cannot truly love others if you do not love yourself. Stop feeling guilty for putting your well being before the well being of others. It is truly beyond difficult for people around you to understand chronic pain and what you are facing. I urge you to give your loved ones the link to one of my posts that speaks to you. It took me way too many years to understand the fact that I had to put my health and chronic pain management first. I always wanted to please others but that always backfired too. The time is now. If you need a break from the outside world and madness do not feel guilty. It is OKAY! The people that love you will be there for you. As I have written before my two closest friends in the world have been my “sisters” since I was thirteen before and right after my bike accident. Stop worrying about what other people think. You know deep down what you have to do to make things in your life better. Do it. And email me when you have questions or need help or advice. I beg you all to really try and let go of the guilt you feel. No one asks for chronic pain and no one gets flowers for chronic pain. Give yourself some flowers and put yourself first: greatest gift you will ever receive.