One of my favorite young women I have ever met asked me a question yesterday that actually hurt my heart as I used to wonder the same thing: “Is chronic pain real? It is real to me, but I do not understand it.” Having an invisible illness like chronic pain can honestly make a person feel as if they are losing their mind. If you saw the beautiful person who asked me this question, you would never believe the suffering she faces on a daily basis just as I did at her age and still now (at times.) Chronic pain is real, it is not in your head and you are not crazy. Chronic pain is so confusing as there is not always a known cause, diagnosis, and rarely a treatment that works. Chronic pain is usually not visible and it is very hard to find anyone that truly can understand the daily battles one faces. No one would ask for this invisible illness nor claim to have chronic pain as a way of seeking attention. Chronic pain can be a literal living hell that most people who are living with the disease rarely talk about it and want the opposite of attention, just understanding and validation.
We search for the answers to questions such as: what is chronic pain, is chronic pain real, am I crazy, will my life always be miserable because of this never ending pain, and what is wrong with me? The hardest and yet most freeing feeling when it comes to these questions is that we do not have the answers. Of course chronic pain is real, you are not crazy, and no you do not need to live a life of misery because of your diagnosis. Does it matter if we are able to answer the other questions, such as what is chronic pain? Not really. You know what it is if you are living in pain twenty four seven. Once you reach a point of acceptance (the most difficult thing to do) we are able to find ways to live a happy, healthy life despite chronic pain. It takes a lot of work and dedication but it beats being miserable and lying in bed asking yourself questions that only make your heart and mind feel more down than you may already feel.
I am here for all of you with chronic pain because I am living proof of just how difficult the journey of a life with an invisible illness looks like.