“There is no suffering greater than which drives people to suicide; suicide defines the moment in which mental pain exceeds the human capacity to bear it. It represents the abandonment of hope.”
John T Matsterger M.D
Many say that to kill oneself is a selfish act: I disagree one million percent but completely understand why someone would belive suicide to be selfish as it hurts the ones a person leaves behind. However, many years ago I was on a road to truly end up dead (willingly, at times hoping) because I could no longer bear the pain of chronic pain: both physical and emotional. I cannot tell you how many times I had wished my bike accident had killed me because for the next ten/fifteen years I would be living with something worse than brain surgery: chronic pain. I understand why the number one reason a person with chronic pain dies is by suicide, I know people who have done just that. I get it. It still amazes me that I am alive: not many people can say they had brain surgery but worse at my rock bottom I should have died. Now, in the oddest way I almost feel blessed for my bike accident and chronic pain: many of you hate me at moment but keep reading: I would not have wanted to read that sentence either if it was ten years ago. Actually, I would have probably wrote (myself) a comment that was pretty nasty and I would not like the author of this blog.
Why the hell do I write/believe that brain surgery/chronic pain were blessings? I could name many reasons which thinking about that is crazy but I will name a few: I always wanted to have a family and be a writer, I am helping many people, and I appreciate life in a way I would not had I not had these invisible scars. A very brave young lady emailed me and asked for tips on how I manage pain without medications/treatments or doctors. I was in a rush when she first emailed me and I quickly wrote to google “non-resistance” and/or “Eckart Tolle.” I must have been truly rushing because that advice sucks. I have been living with chronic pain naturally for so long that I forget at times that I need to really simplify and break down exactly how I manage pain and live a happy life despite the invisible illness. This young girl is smart and emailed me last night and she surprisingly (as I would not have back in the day) did google “non-resistance.” The fact that she even did that when I truly needed to go into details of my routine for managing chronic pain proves she is very wise, strong and will be where I am much sooner than she believes. I have done this in the past but I am just going to write a list in the day of Jessica’s life with chronic pain.
1. I awake between five am and six am and before my mind wanders directly to chronic pain or anxiety, I exercise. I know what most of you are thinking: “How can someone with chronic pain exercise, I can barely move.” Rome wasn’t built-in a day so believe me when I say I started at a snail’s pace regarding exercise and with time and a lot of dedication it began a part of my daily life that I now love. There are some days I do cardio and there are days like today where I had to honor my body and practice very light yoga.
2. I then eat a snack (healthy) and make a juice. For instance today I will probably throw in carrots, spinach, oranges, watermelon, grapefruit and my favorite ginger into my juicer and chug it down. Making juices is actually fun because you come up with different concoctions and can mix it up day to day. Produce is wicked expensive so I am at our local produce store: “Produce Junction” about twice a week. I am a mom, post social worker, writer, and nanny: I cannot afford to spend a ton on produce, if I can anyone can.
3. Meditation and/or yoga nidra are so important to me. It is very difficult to do at this time in my life as my three-year old is nuts/amazing and the best distraction but this is one area I am slacking off in and my body can tell. After I left the Mayo Clinic I truly refused to practice meditation: me? I cannot sit still, if I lay there I think about pain, how the hell do you meditate? Turns out I was per usual wrong when it comes to things I am afraid of. There is not much to a meditation. For me, I need a CD or something to listen to who tells me exactly what to do and my favorite meditations are guided imagery. You can buy a meditation CD on Amazon for under five dollars. Yoga nidra is a LIFESAVER. No, it is not a yoga “workout.” It is the opposite. You put a yoga nidra cd into your cd player or whatever you own and you lay down in bed or wherever you feel comfy and press play. It takes a few times but the third time I tried yoga nidra I was on cloud nine. The CD was about twenty minutes: I awoke (yes it put me into a trance and you have no clue how bad my anxiety is) and felt almost high. I remembered nothing but felt amazing. Twenty minutes of yoga nidra is almost equivalent to three-four hours of sleep. You have chronic pain so I am sure you have insomnia. Twenty minutes of yoga nidra will eventually help you in ways I cannot believe.
4. I do not talk about pain: ever! This is a double edge sword but it helps. The more we talk about pain the more we think about pain. I will say to my loved ones: “I am having a difficult day” which means I am in a ton of pain so back off. However, I have trained my brain to not think about pain. Talking about it sends signals to my brain and then to my pain sites and boom, crash the sound of my pain gets worse and worse. It is just like complaining or repeating anything negative. The more you bring focus to what you do not want, the more of what you do not want comes your way: Law of Attraction. This also takes a TON of discipline and time but eventually you notice your mind not focusing on pain as much.
5. Distractions, Distractions, Distractions. I have difficult days, especially when under a great deal of stress but I try and succeed most of the time to not get trapped into thinking/focusing on pain. I do something, something I enjoy. Luckily, my inner child is in full force so my three year old and I have many distractions: swimming, the beach, reading, playing, cooking: most of the time just getting out of the house and listening to music. What do you like to do? What are you passionate about? Try it. You cannot lose what you do not have. I love to organize so sometimes when I start focusing on pain I go though our junk drawers, my clothes, Kayci’s toys/clothes etc. and organize. Yes, I love cleaning. I thought being a mother would make managing pain impossible but she has actually made living with pain ten times easier.
6. Support systems: you have to find a person who has chronic pain to vent to. Do not expect your husband/wife/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad to understand how you feel. It is an impossibility and will most likely lead you to anger, resentment and increased pain. Email me, text me: it is not a bother. I mean it when I say my accident and life with chronic pain was meant to help others. Never feel guilty. You are not bothering me. See if there are support groups in your area (good luck, very hard to find.) You may be starting your own and that will give you validation and confidence.
7. Stop beating yourself up or blaming yourself. No one choices chronic pain! This is not your fault and get your emotions out. I see a holistic therapist weekly who I have known for ten years and I need to do that because stress, anxiety, life changes etc. cause my pain levels to increase. I have to get it out with someone who understands me.
8. Do not look into the future (I suck at this!) However, cognitively I know projecting the future is not only a waste of time but pointless. Everything I have ever planned or thought would or would not happen did or did not. I do not know how things fall into place but they just do. Worrying will never change the outcome and hey I just gave you a ton of information so you gotta get busy, joking. Not totally joking but start one of the things I mentioned in this post, just one. But pick one that you will do daily and when you do not have the heart or will power to do so email me! You are not alone nor are you crazy.
I know how you feel, literally. I get tears thinking about the teenagers and young people who are living with chronic pain and wanting to give up because I was you. You may not know me but trust me if I can get through this and live a healthy/happy life despite pain, anyone can. Takes time. Take a deep breath, please. Ok, you did not do it so let’s try again: TAKE A DEEP BREATH with your tummy. EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT, NOT AS YOU PLANNED BUT YOU WILL BE BETTER THAN OKAY.