“Sometimes it hurts, it hurts so much that you feel like your chest will cave in and the only thing stopping it is the gasps of air you take in between the tears.”
I wanted to write a post to everyone who reads my blog to let you know that I understand more than anyone how you feel. I lived caged into my body, suffocating, praying to die for over ten years because of this invisible illness we call chronic pain. Most of my posts come directly from the here and now: Jessica at the age of thirty-four managing chronic pain naturally and for the most part happy and following her dreams. But, I have a long past that was not pleasant for myself or my family. I know what you are going through and I am not exaggerating when I say I literally am brought to tears when I think of myself back then and all of you who are where I used to be. I know now I was meant to write. I know now I was meant to write to help those who are suffering from chronic pain. I know two people who committed suicide because of chronic pain and I get it. I could have been a statistic but I am here: healthy, a mother, a writer, with a degree in Social Work. Ten years ago I never would have believed I am the Jessica I am now. I never thought I would live past the age of twenty-five much less be thirty-four making my dreams come true.
I remember so many days and nights lying in bed, days without sleeping rubbing my face and my head praying to God to take the physical pain away. I will never forget saying aloud in my bed: “If I could just read a book and relax without thinking about pain I would be so grateful, that is all I want!” Back then everyone thought I was the life of the party. It appeared to the outside world I loved drinking, going out, getting wasted and being the “fun Jessica.” The one and only thing I really enjoyed from drinking was that it numbed my physical pain allowing me to laugh, have fun with my best friends, dance, and for just a few hours not think about pain. I was Cinderella and as soon as that clock turned to midnight (or in my case two in the morning) I was brought back to reality: PAIN. I actually enjoyed being hung over as crazy as that sounds because my friends could relate to me. They felt like crap from drinking and just wanted to lounge around and watch movies and eat college food. They were living the college life while I was merely pretending to, when in fact was only numbing the pain both physical and emotional brought on by my invisible illness. I remember watching girls run to class with books in hand, excited to read yet dreading doing their homework. I envied them to a degree I cannot express. Even back then I truly just wanted to chill out, read, drink with friends socially/once in a while, and learn. I loved school. I loved taking notes and finding the perfect pen to write with. I enjoyed reading and writing so much but chronic pain stole those things from me. I did not know then what I know now and I cannot go back in the past, nor do I want to. I learned a lot. I appreciate cooking, reading, exercising, writing and playing with my family more than the average person would. Back then all I wanted to be able to do was read a book without thinking about pain: my dreams exceeded my expectations and now I plan to make all my dreams come true. They are not spectacular in the sense of: climbing Mt. Everest or traveling the world. They are quite simple to be frank. I want my writing to help/save as many people as possible. I want this blog to one day be a book. And I want to extend our family. These two dreams I am pursuing and I am happy. I am very blessed to be able to share my story even though at times I am shocked with what I am revealing to the world. I have no regrets nor am embarrassed by my past. Every year, month, and day I grow stronger and learn more lessons than I could possibly have learned had it not been for my bike accident.
You can and most likely will (you all can) get to the point where I am now. I never found a cure to chronic pain but I did find acceptance, tools to manage chronic pain, and as crazy as it may sound to most of you do not think about pain as I once did. I have referenced this movie in the past: A Beautiful Mind and I am about to reference it again. Russel Crowe plays the world-famous John Nash who was a mathematical genius who suffered from Schizophrenia. He saw three people on a daily basis who were not really there and they interfered with his career, happiness, and marriage to a point of destruction until he learned to accept his condition. At the end of the movie he sees the three “people” looks at them for a split second and walks away. He explains that they are always there, he just makes a choice not to see them. That is how I manage chronic pain. It is a process and I am here for each and every one of you.