Support for Chronic Pain

What do you do when you do not know what to do?

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“Waiting is painful.  Forgetting is painful.  But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”

Paolo Coelho

Some people say that your heart and intuition always have the answer but it is the mind that gets in the way.  I believe this to be true ninety percent of the time, but there are those times I truly do not know what to do.  Life is not black and white: it is a mix of every color and there are facets and challenges to every decision.  Some people only think with their minds while others only think with their hearts and then there comes in people like myself who tend to think with both: which can lead to much confusion and suffering.  My dad always told me: “When you don’t know what to do, do nothing.”  I do not always follow his advice but his advice always follows me.  Aside from his advice on cars: “If your car makes a noise just turn the music up” I tend to remember the big lessons he told me.  I listened to the car thing for more years than he would probably want to know, it doesn’t work:  the car will get worse.  The Martin’s are not well known for their skills in mechanics.

So what do you do when you truly do not know what to do? You are going to love my answer and it is going to help you so much: I’m kidding I have no idea.  I am in the midst of trying to figure this out but the Universe is giving me a few clues that I am in tune with and I know my dad is correct about not making rash decisions in life especially in reaction to feelings.  Hence, when you don’t know what to do, do nothing.  Most of my readers have chronic pain or some kind of invisible illness and are faced with decisions based on their health on a daily basis: to take the new medication, to call an ambulance, to get this or that procedure done, to go or not to go to an event, to lay in bed and cry all night or say ‘screw it’ and go out drinking with friends.  I know every question you ask yourself or someone else asks you: I have been asked them all for twenty years: nothing can surprise me.  For ten years I did not have to think about my answers.  If any doctor said this or that would cure my chronic pain I would do it.  Whether that meant a new medication, another surgery, or electro acupuncture as opposed to standard acupuncture: I said yes.  I was like Jim Carrey in the movie: “The Yes Man” and if asked to go out drinking to numb my pain the answer was: YES. Once, I accepted my life with chronic pain and stopped looking for a cure questions asked of me and questions I asked myself became a lot more difficult to answer.  To say I overthink things is putting it mildly. There has to be a balance and for me I have not had a great balance when it comes to not thinking at all and overthinking every little thing.  I am no longer impulsive and am definitely not “The Yes Man” anymore, quite the contrary: I think too much instead of just allowing things to happen as they will. People with chronic pain have a hard time not having control over a situation.  I believe this is because chronic pain controls us or has controlled us in the past so much that we never want to allow anything or anyone to control us again.  This is where my overthinking comes in and where overthinking (over talking as well to all of you who know me well) causes me to suffer and annoys the hell out of the people who are forced to listen to my inner thoughts.

Back to the subject at hand what do we do when we do not know what to do?  I love the quote at the top of this post because although it sucks sometimes one does not know what to do and for me that is the worst kind of suffering.  However, does it have to be suffering?  If so, does that suffering have to last until we come to a decision or a decision finds us?  Here is where I can help: for real this time. No, it does not have to affect us to the point of total suffering.  For ten years I ran away from pain and numbed it with anything possible, now I must face pain in the face without running and without numbing it.  Pain comes in all forms so do not forget I am not always writing about physical pain: the emotional pain that comes with chronic pain is much more potent than the physical part anyways.  I am learning that although I will be faced with incredibly difficult times and choices, I do not have to allow theses times to take over my entire being and suffer until I have the answers. This is a lot easier said than done but pain is pain and sometimes I manage emotional pain as I do physical pain with distractions, exercise, and ok I will be honest reality television.  My three year old has a very good idea on how to distract me whether she is causing me distress or eustress.  Usually, she is in the midst of making me smile or laugh and she is the greatest distraction to any pain I have ever felt.  Like the saying goes: worrying will never change the outcome or worrying is like a rocking chair in that it gives us something to do but we do not get very far.  I guess it is okay to not have the answers, sometimes the best thing to do is shut off or shut down for a few days and allow the Universe to work some things out making decisions more rational and not so complicated. My dad may not always have the greatest advice but I do believe when you truly do not know what to do, do nothing.  Things have a way of falling into place.  Only time, age, and wisdom can teach us that.  Try to not forget that the world is not in black and white but full of many shades of grey.

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