“Every time you are tempted to act in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
We all know the definition of insanity: repeating the same behavior over and over again and expecting a different result. I have been by definition insane many times in my past with regards to chronic pain and other issues in general. The greatest thing I ever did was go to the Pain Rehab Center in Minnesota to learn how to manage pain naturally. I worked my mind and ass off for over a year to get to a place where pain no longer controlled my life. After a year of practicing all the techniques I learned during my month at the Mayo Clinic, I went back to college and graduated with my degree in social work. I no longer drank to numb pain, I became a health nut, and most importantly I was happy. A couple years down the road life events occurred that were extremely stressful and I started thinking about pain again. I remember waking up in my little apartment in New Jersey and realizing I was rubbing my face: my worst pain behavior. A pain behavior is anything that draws attention to your pain. I had not rubbed my face, bit my cheeks, rubbed my neck, or talked about pain in years. I thought I was in the clear. I was petrified that morning. I prayed I was just getting a sinus infection or was just having a bad nightmare about my days of living hell in my journey with chronic pain. However, I did not have a sinus infection nor was my physical pain caused by a bad dream. Chronic pain was suddenly and rapidly coming back into my life and I was so afraid that I called out of work and sat on my couch all day crying. I could not believe after years of not thinking about pain and being able to manage it so well, I was on that couch because the pain came back out of the blue and I felt like the biggest failure in the world. Looking back I can see why pain started controlling my life again: I was in a horrible relationship, my job as a social worker was getting excruciatingly difficult and I was stressed to the max. I was not utilizing all the tools I needed to in order to manage pain without pain managing me. So, what did I do? I went back to pain medication. Definition of insanity. I knew in my heart, mind and soul that I was making a monumental mistake but I did it anyway. The pain seemed too much to bear and I knew that my doctor would prescribe me the Percocet I had been on before due to my accident and subsequent chronic pain. I knew it had been years since I had been on pain medication and that my tolerance to Percocet was very low therefore the pain would go away fast. I also knew that those results would not last long and I would need more and more medication in order to get the same results. I stopped using the tools I needed to manage pain naturally and relied on that medicine to get me through my difficult time. Not only did I go back on medication but I started going out with friends drinking again. Not at as I had pre-Mayo Clinic, but the pain medication was not working as much, my tolerance had grown and I had once again given up on myself. I spent months hating myself and my life and ended up going back to the Pain Rehab Center because I saw no other choice. I knew what I had to do and I did not want to ever again think about suicide or become so dependent on pain medications and alcohol that I could not go the day without them because of pain. I spent three weeks in the Pain Rehab Center and started my process of managing pain naturally all over again. I learned more the second time around as I was older and wiser and incorporated more of the techniques I leanred into my daily life such as meditation and yoga. I went years feeling great, pain on the back burner of my crazy mind, and I was once again filled with self love. I fell down one last time in my journey with chronic pain. Around the time of my first miscarriage that resulted in a DNC I had a meltdown, not only because of the loss of our son but because of many other life stressors that sent me over the edge and chronic pain once again became the center of my life. I did go back to pain medication but not for long. The final time I defined insanity I did not go back to the Mayo Clinic. I called my pain doctor and cancelled our appointment and weaned myself off the medication. Self love filled me again.
Many life events have occurred since the last time I was on pain medication but I have not gone back nor have thoughts of ever doing so. I never think of drinking to numb my pain: emotional or physical and I know how strong I am. I am far from perfect and have made other mistakes in my life but with self love and through tough work I have learned hard lessons. Yes, I hit rock bottom with chronic pain but I have also hit rock bottom with other things in my life: things I am not proud of. I do not like when people say the phrase: “people cannot change.” This is just not true. People can change if they want to. Hating yourself is the worst possible thing I have ever faced. I have faced self-hate too many times and lost way too many hours/days/weeks/months in the wraths of self hate. I do not hate myself any longer. I am proud of myself. I have things to work on and we all do but I never want to hate myself again and if you are hating yourself right now please know that you can change: we all can. I believe in all of you!