“I hide so much. I push it all the way down and cover it up. I try to convince myself that I am not sick, that I am not fighting to live. But it is a lie. And although I’m surrounded by many, I feel alone. I do it to myself. I don’t want to let others in because they become a part of the disease. It affects them. I don’t want anyone else to feel this pain. I’m worn. I’m scared. And right now, I’m broken. Completely and perfectly broken.”
Until I began writing about my journey with chronic pain many people did not know I was fighting an ivisible illness for over twenty years. I was basically living a lie because I did not want people to know how I really felt inside. Every day was a battle: me against pain and for over ten years pain won every second of every day. My chronic pain began after my bike accident, during my adolescent years when I was unsure of myself to begin with. I wanted to fit in with my peers and have friends and be like ‘everyone else.’ I was going through puberty while fighting a pain I had no control over. I was broken inside but on the outside I could bury my pain down deep enough to show a smile and keep my chronic pain a secret to as many people as possible. Some days I would miss school because of doctor’s appointments and/or various procedures and I lied to people as to why I missed school. I felt as if I was going crazy. It was not until the year 2001 that I even heard the word chronic pain so I began believing I was making my physical pain up: broken. Some nights and or weekends I would cancel plans with friends, not because I wanted to but because I wanted to just lay in bed and cry. The thought of having to be around people when I was in an immense amount of pain was too much to bear. I would tell my friends and family members I had a stomach ache or my allergies were acting up: anything to not have to mention the pain in my head, face, and neck. I began isolating myself and at times literally laid in my bed just crying while my friends were enjoying their time at the movies or the mall. I wanted to be anyone but myself. I hated myself. Years upon years of treatments, medications, surgeries etc led me to truly think I was making up my pain: I was not as most of you know, especially those of you with some sort of an invisible illness.
Once I was finally diagnosed with having chronic pain (a term I had never heard of) I began my journey to acceptance and managing pain naturally. However, I still did not want people to know. I was the queen of changing plans: ten years I changed plans because the pain was too much to deal with, ten years I changed plans because I had to put my healthy management of chronic pain ahead of everything else. I have been called selfish in my lifetime and I do believe that mostly comes from chronic pain. I have put my health and my management of chronic pain ahead of everything. I know I cannot overdo things or my pain levels will sky rocket and I will be a miserable mess. If I do not put my well being first I cannot be a good mother, a good family member, a good friend, and worst of all I end up back in the cycle of self hate which is no good for anyone around me. In a perfect world, I would never have fallen off of my bike and I would never had brain surgery and chronic pain. However, I did fall off my bike at the young age of thirteen. I did spend ten years or more of my life searching for a cure and fighting pain every moment. I did want to just end my life in my young twenties because I literally could not take the physical and emotional pain any longer. And then I hit my rock bottom and made a very hard decision and that decision was to accept chronic pain and manage it naturally. I no longer feel broken but I do feel alone sometimes. If I am having a difficult day with pain, I feel depressed, I cry a lot, and I pretend I am okay. A couple days is a lot better than ten years straight. Chronic pain can be the loneliest place in the world. None of my family or friends know what I go through each day to manage this invisible illness. My smiles are rarely fake and I am a genuinely happy person but I am quite misunderstood by those who have never dealt with an invisible illness.