“What doesn’t kill you, makes you wish it did.”
I was speaking with someone yesterday who has been a huge part in my journey with chronic pain and has helped light shine into my life just as the light does in the above picture. The years that I spent wishing I was no longer alive are very difficult to re-live or write about because I can still feel that emotional and physical pain when I think back to the years in Colorado right before I hit my rock bottom and truly gave up. The above picture was taken yesterday and I swear if anyone told me I would be going on an “adventure” through the woods with my daughter at the age of thirty-four I would have looked at them like they were absolutely out of their mind. I would like to go back in time to my most vivid memories of the Jessica who was defined by pain and truly wanted her life to just end.
It was around the year 2000 or 2001 and it was a Sunday in Boulder, Colorado: the place to live if you truly want to forget you worries and party your ass off. Sundays scared me. Why? Liquor stores are not open on Sundays in Colorado so the only way to numb the physical pain was to pray my friends and I did not drink everything we had bought the day before or waste a lot of money at a classy bar. We usually ended up at a bar that served cheap appetizers and had a great happy hour and would down as many glasses as Merlot as possible. Just as one becomes dependent on pain medication for relief to chronic pain, one can also become dependent on alcohol for the same relief. Elvis Presley once said: “We are all addicted to something that takes the pain away.” I recently discovered he too had a form of chronic pain. My friends and I would not stay at the bar long as most of my friends wanted to study and get ready for the week ahead in the place I dreamt about and missed so desperately: college. I “took a year off” not because I wanted to but between doctor visits, medications, self medicating, no sleep, and thoughts of dying there just did not seem to be enough time for school. My pain had reached such a horrible point that I lost one of my favorite things in the whole world: reading and writing. No, I was not blind for those years but the pain was truly so intense that looking at pages on a book hurt both physically and then emotionally. I would watch my friends study and get ready for exams as I sat there with my other group of friends drinking or doing something stupid. Jealousy ran through me like you cannot imagine. I hated drinking, I hated that nothing could take my pain away, I did not enjoy what I was doing, I had lost myself to chronic pain and I never thought I would come back. I did. I beat the odds and when I think back to those days I am shocked that the Jessica then and the Jessica in the above picture are the same person. What is more shocking is that I never did find a cure to chronic pain and yet I read, I write, I graduated college with a degree in Social Work, I am a mother,I have a family, and I am following my dreams. No cure. Just a ton of acceptance, dedication and work. I write this very often but I promise you if someone ten years ago asked me to read a blog about a girl who manages chronic pain naturally I would have screamed: ” YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! SCREW HER…..Manage Pain Naturally, CRAP” and would run away in tears angry, hopeless, scared, and alone. The tears would not stop falling until I fell asleep and I would not be reading what I am writing now. I get it.. I get it so well that when I write about my darkest hours of chronic pain I cry. I cry for the years I lost. I cry for the mistakes I made. I cry thinking about how much I really wanted to die. I cry thinking about the millions of people who feel as I once did because I know how terrible it is. Nothing compares to chronic pain, at least nothing I have encountered in my life. I have been through a lot but I promise you nothing compares to my battle with chronic pain. I never want anyone to think that I do not understand and I know I do not have to prove my pain to my readers because you get it. Note to all of you: you should never feel the need to prove your pain to anyone, such a horrible feeling. Yes, I write because I want to help and I want people to know that you can live a happy life despite chronic pain and you do not have to find a cure in order to be happy. Do I believe I am a success story? Yes. Do I believe what I write is inspiring? Yes. However, don’t for one second think that I do not understand how you feel because I truly almost died two times in my life. My bike accident/brain surgery came way too close to death but chronic pain is what came closer to killing me.