“The thorn of chronic illness casts out everything we thought as normal. We feel lonely, confused, and most of all misunderstood. We feel like shells of our former selves. We have the same dreams and goals, but we can hardly get out of bed. All the stubbornness and self-confidence that always worked for us in the past isn’t making the pain go away.”
I do not believe any of us realize just how many people have chronic pain in some way shape or form. I am not always interested in what a person has been diagnosed with: fibromyalgia, crps, brain surgery history, or often times un-diagnosed: chronic pain. Pain is pain and the way I manage chronic pain can help anyone whether they have arthritis or fibromyalgia, whether they are ambulatory or wheel chair bound: chronic pain is chronic pain diagnosis or not. I read a lot this past weekend about famous people with chronic pain and was pretty shocked to find out some of my favorite singers, athletes, and actors also suffer from an invisible illness, and no I did not read this in “US” magazine or “TMZ.” I will just name a few people that stood out to me and once again proved to me you never know what a person is fighting inside even when they look great on the outside: Jillian Michaels, Sinead O’Connor, Ben Affleck, Lisa Kudrow, and Janet Jackson. Jillian Michaels (personal trainer and famous for her time on the show The Biggest Loser) began living a healthy lifestyle and exercising etc. because of chronic pain. She reminds me much of myself in that no one in the general world would have any idea she has chronic pain: she is in crazy shape, has children, and looks like the happiest most grateful person on television. Then I realized, she is so much like myself. I hear time and time again: “Why do you work out, you look great!” I do not work out to look great, I work out because I have chronic pain not in spite of having chronic pain. People ask: “Why do you eat so healthy, you do not need to juice every day.” Once again, I eat healthy and juice every day because it is one of my many tools in managing chronic pain. My favorite: “Jessica, you are thirty four, why the hell are you in bed at eight pm watching television or reading?” I go to sleep early so I can wake up before my energetic, crazy three year old to stretch, practice yoga, or do a cardio routine. Chronic pain does not rule my life but the way I live is a result of having chronic pain. So many people are ignorant when it comes to invisible illness especially chronic pain because people see what they want to see and like Jillian Michaels we appear to look healthy and “normal.” So why the secret regarding the above people, why do we not know they have some sort of chronic pain. My guess is the same reason no one knew I had chronic pain until I started writing. Again, one of my main tools is not talking about pain and most people with chronic pain do not want sympathy or to be asked the million questions people ask and they sure as hell do not want someone to not believe them. Therefore, most of us do not tell many people we have chronic pain. Proving, just how ridiculous and sad it is that there are people who do not believe their loved one has chronic pain: there is a reason many of us do not broadcast our illness. We feel bad enough without the opinions of others.
If you re-read the above quote written by Lisa Cohen, you will see the words stubbornness and misunderstood. First off everyone in the world is misunderstood because we are all fighting battles in various times in our life that no one knows about. We cannot be stubborn regarding chronic pain. I am speaking mostly for myself because we all manage pain differently. I spent so many years being stubborn, searching for a cure, and denying that I may have chronic pain forever that my life was chronic pain. It was not until I accepted it and found ways to manage it that my stubbornness left my body like stress does after a yoga practice. When I receive comments from you (I am speaking to all of my readers) I am overjoyed but also sad in a way. I know how so many of you feel and I lived as you do for more than a decade. I came close to suicide: I hate what you are going through, I can literally feel your pain. I know you feel trapped in your body and like a turtle who is scared to death to let his or her head out of their shell and I wish I could do so much more for you. Wherever you are in your journey with chronic pain just try and believe me that things will get better you just do not know when, how, or why but they do. Try and not overthink your invisible illness. I promise you overthinking will lead you straight to more pain, depression and anxiety. Decide this moment: I am here right now doing the best I can and at some point things are going to turn around. And please reach out, I write because I love writing but also to truly help as many people as possible. My accident gave me a gift and I want to share my gift with all of you.