I never realized how much I do not agree with the word “failure” until I just typed it in my title. It took me almost ten minutes of typing and deleting the word because it is such a terrible word that does not belong in our language. We are taught this word at such a young age even before we are given exams and quizzes that are either: pass or fail. But does failing anything make you a “failure?” Not in the book of Jessica it does not. Many people do not agree with my way of thinking but that is neither here nor there and I am finally getting to an age where I do not truly care what other’s think. Look at the six people who were declared: failures: Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, The Beatles? Who the hell did not see the creativity of Walt Disney or the brilliance of Albert Einstein? Thank God these “famous failures” did not give up because of set backs or because people did not believe in them. Clearly they believed in themselves which is more important than anyone’s opinion.
Am I failure because I did not wear a bike helmet when I was a young teenager and ended up having brain surgery and consequently chronic pain? I do not believe anyone would call me a failure for an accident that almost took my life more than once. However, I have made some terrible choices due to chronic pain in which people may call me a failure. It took me longer than most of my peers to graduate college, I have made very poor choices in order to numb the physical pain I endure., I declared medical bankruptcy due to all the medical bills I accrued over the ten plus years of weekly/daily doctor appointments, surgeries, and medications. I have relied on my dad for help with certain bills because chronic pain came first. The life I had planned did not turn out the way that I thought I wanted it to. If our society looked at my list of “failings” they would probably say I have been a “failure” for a good portion of my life. However, people have no idea what it is like to live with chronic pain and live in a constant state of fear and sadness due to being in pain. If I had not fallen off of my bike or if I had been wearing a helmet that June day when I was thirteen would I have endured a life of chronic pain and “failures?” Probably not. However, there is nothing I can possibly do to change my past. Looking back at what could have been or should have been is senseless because this is my life. I am a thirty three year old married, stay at home mother with a degree in social work who lives with chronic pain on a daily basis.
I cannot ever express the amount of times I came close to giving up on myself because I could not find any cure or relief for my chronic pain. My life revolved around finding a cure or at least a crutch for the invisible illness I have. It petrifies me to think how close I came to giving up on any sort of fulfilling, happy, healthy life because of chronic pain. I took a chance, against my ego and entered the Pain Rehab Center in Minnesota. Their philosophy was to learn how to manage chronic pain without a cure and not allow pain to be the focus of one’s life. I heard their philosophy and wanted to run back to Mt. Rushmore and jump. I took a chance (had nothing to lose) and spent over a month in Rochester, MN where I learned how to manage chronic pain naturally and saw that I could live a life I was proud of despite the invisible illness. I had to change my entire life and literally transform my mind to come to where I am today. I never found a cure to chronic pain but I am not a failure. None of us are. I wake up every day and make a choice to not allow pain to interrupt my health or happiness. I follow a routine each and every day that anyone without chronic pain would not have to think about. I wake up and stretch and no matter how I feel I exercise before my mind begins to drift to pain. Today, I took it easy and practiced yoga as I must force myself to listen to my body. If I did not listen to my body, I would be doing cardio or interval training every day as I love to work out and sweat. Thankfully, after many years I have come to love yoga. I eat healthy and make a juice every day following my work out. I try and practice meditation daily but sometimes this little two year old makes that a little difficult. However, most days I am able to either practice yoga nidra (meditative trance) or at least ten minutes of deep belly breathing. I do not go out drinking with friends and rarely have any alcohol unless it is a very special occasion and even then I barely drink. I try and practice mindfulness daily and use distractions as often as possible to train my brain to not think about pain. I no longer go to any doctors for pain relief as it would only remind myself that I do have chronic pain and I think ten years is enough time to see that there truly is not a cure for me. There are many more things I do on a daily basis to manage chronic pain naturally that no one except myself know as I do not talk about pain unless I am having a very “difficult day.” I have bad days but most days are pretty good despite pain. Learning how to manage chronic pain naturally after coming close to death makes me the opposite of a “failure.” No one could possibly understand unless he or she has this invisible illness.
None of you are failures (I really do not like typing that word and my contact Mr. Webster regarding the dictionary after this post is finished.) If you have chronic pain and are reading this blog you are succeeding, you just may not be able to see that yet. Do not allow anyone to ever make you feel less than amazing. We all make poor choices: chronic pain or not. We are human. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. Never allow anyone, including loved ones make you feel that you are failing at life. You are not: I promise. One of my dreams/goals is to turn this blog into a book and be able to reach as many people as possible to share my story and journey with chronic pain. I share things I am not proud of and write about my lowest lows but if I can show people that there is a way through pain then all of this has been worth the work. Many people would say to me: “You are crazy Jessica. There is no way this blog you started about managing chronic pain naturally is going to amount to anything. You have no idea how to write a book nor do you have any connections to turn this into something huge.” I think I am going to keep trying and writing and follow the lead of people like Walt Disney and Oprah Winfrey. We can all be success stories. If I did not believe that I sure would not be spending this much time writing this blog and answering emails to help anyone I can. I highly doubt you will ever see the word failure from this point forward when reading my blog. The word just does not exist in my world.