“I know we always tell each other “stay strong” but part of strength is knowing you cannot be strong all the time. When you live with constant pain or injuries you struggle all the time. When someone says to you they never break, they are lying to you or themselves. A drop of water on a stone doesn’t do much but a constant drip eventually erodes and changes the stone forever. The truth is the never ending pain is like a constant drip changing parts of your soul. It changes you leaving scars no one can see. Does it make you stronger? Absolutely, but it also takes a toll on you mentally and emotionally. When you feel as if you have lost your strength hold on with all your might and when you strength finds you again you can look back and be proud and amazed by what you overcame.”
I will rarely write this but I want every single one of my readers to know that I still have days just like you face, they are just not nearly as frequent. I went from living in physical pain twenty four hours a day/seven days a week for a little over ten years. Now, I live in that pain a lot less but is always there. This quote above completely explains the past few weeks in my life. There are certain things in my life (like anyone’s) where circumstances raise my anxiety and stress which in turn turns up the pain alerts. I think chronic pain just likes to give me reminders to chill out or slow down: either way it still is no fun. I had a couple of pretty difficult days where my mind could not distract itself from pain: physical and emotional. Years ago, I would have gotten catastrophic thinking: oh my God, this is going to be forever, I won’t be able to make it, my life is screwed and would have sat in bed crying until I could sleep. That no longer happens and I believe that is what keeps me going no matter what. My history and journey with chronic pain has taught me that just because I have a bad day does not mean I will have endless bad days. The picture above was taken yesterday at Sesame Place: one of the best days I have had in forever. I couldn’t sleep yesterday morning (shocking) because I was too excited to get to the theme park, possibly more than my three year old. I love doing things like this with my family and being able to hug Big Bird with Kayci and go down water slides three plus times because she is beyond fearless and watching her do something she has never done is one of the greatest parts about being a mom. I do love that she is a mini me because she really loves to do the things I did at her age and a lot of the things I still love to do.
Within one week I had a couple “difficult days” and then bam back on track going down a water slide with the greatest person I have ever met. That is what chronic pain is, for myself at least. Fifteen years ago if I was going to an amusement park, my friends and I would sneak in alcohol. They did it because of college life, I did it so I could enjoy the day without pain. I am so grateful, blessed, and just happy that the Jessica fifteen years ago is the polar opposite of the Jessica now. We do not even look alike. In this picture, I did nothing to numb physical pain: no alcohol, pain medication, etc. I just made sure to do yoga before leaving and I was distracted from the pain throughout the day. Your mind is a very powerful thing, this can either be a good thing or bad thing pending on what you are choosing to think.
I always wish I could write to all of you that I found a magic cure to chronic pain but I would be lying and I am not sure in our lifetime there will be a cure. However, that does not mean you have to have a horrible life. Totally understand why so many of you feel as if your life is ruined and I totally understand why many of you take medicine for pain or self medicate: I did it for ten plus years, I just found a better route for myself. But not every path is right for everyone. Wherever you are in your journey with chronic pain know if nothing else that one day you will be in a much better place: I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart. This is coming from someone who came close to ending her life due to chronic pain. I am not asking you to not be miserable, nor am I asking you to take my advice or accept chronic pain. I am asking you to hold on and have faith. I am asking you to reach out to me for advice or anything you need. Trust the journey, as ridiculous as that may sound. Get a poster board or any paper and write down: “This is not forever, one day I will look back and be so amazed at how far I have come. Things are going to get better. Stay strong.” If you do that and see it every day it will help. And I promise you wishing something away is literally inviting it to stay. This I know for a fact.