It is no secret that I get immense joy from being with my four year old daughter and all children for that matter. When one sees me at our town pool, I am usually in the water with my daughter and other kids that I sometimes do not even know. Kayci has become quite the social butterfly and will play with anyone and loves when I join in. Children have this amazing, uplifting energy to them. I can live in the moment when around my daughter, especially when we are doing an activity such as swimming, having a catch, or playing make believe. She loves me unconditionally and as of now, because of her young age has no clue I have chronic pain. All my daughter knows is love whether I am in the greatest mood in the world or am having a difficult day. She sees me for mommy and the bond between us is so strong there is never a question whether one of us loves the other. As we get older, we lose this magic with most people especially when we live with an invisible illness such as chronic pain. How do you love someone with chronic pain? If you love someone, I truly believe no condition can take that love away. It can be difficult to be a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend to one with chronic pain but there are things you can do to keep your relationship strong and keep your love magical.
The three most important things you can ever say to someone with an invisible illness are: “I believe you.” However, you must truly believe your loved one or they are just words and most people with chronic pain are quite intuitive and know if you are just saying what you are ‘supposed to say.’ Chronic pain is usually invisible which can make believing someone difficult at times: that is very hard for me to write because I am someone who looks very healthy and my invisible illness has been questioned more times that I care to think about. No one makes up chronic pain or any invisible illness. We do not want to prove our pain to you, it only intensifies our pain and causes us to become depressed, anxious, angry and eventually we isolate ourselves from the world. I have written this before but there are many things that are invisible that we all still believe in: we cannot see air and yet we breathe, we cannot see our higher being and yet many of us believe in our own personal God, and we cannot see love yet it is one of the strongest feelings in the world. No one can see my chronic pain but I promise you it is there and I have yet to meet a person with chronic pain who is making up their illness.
It is extremely difficult for someone with chronic pain to be honest about their condition because of the stigma that has been put on most invisible illnesses. We feel we will be judged, talked out, and possibly thrown away as we carry too many problems. If your loved one is brave enough to admit to you he or she has chronic pain, believe him or her. You cannot fix their illness as much as you would like to but you can support them in their journey with their illness. Chronic pain does not define a person and I am living proof that one can get to a point in their journey with chronic pain that they are able to have a fulfilling life despite their pain. You must be patient and educated. Chronic pain is getting noticed everywhere and you can find more articles on the internet that you ever imagined regarding this invisible illness.
I am in a good place in my personal journey with chronic pain. I no longer search for a cure, take medications for pain, and have found ways to manage pain naturally. However, I must listen to my body and sometimes that means saying no to events or certain outings. This can be quite frustrating to those who love me as they believe I am being selfish or just do not want to do this or that but this could not be further from the truth. I wish I could do everything and be on the go non stop but I just cannot do that to myself. I have to prioritize, take breaks, and follow my routine for managing chronic pain naturally the best I can. If your loved one says no to something you really want to do, I beg you to not make them feel more guilty than I promise you they already feel. I get this can be hard on loved ones and very frustrating at times. I am personally a morning person and begin my ‘chronic pain routine’ once I open my eyes. I begin the day early with my morning stretches and exercise. I have always been a morning person and feel my best during the day. I will rarely go to events that occur at night unless it is very important to myself or someone I love. I have been practicing managing chronic pain naturally for over ten years and have found what works. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it. If I over-do things, I pay the price and my family pays the price.
In all honesty, everyone in the world just wants to be loved, validated, and understood. The same goes for those who have an invisible illness. There are times we feel we hate ourselves but we really just hate our pain. Trust your loved one, support your loved one, and validate their illness and their decisions regarding their illness. Loving someone with chronic pain can be difficult at times. However, I believe that those with chronic pain have more empathy, love, and courage than anyone I have known. We do not judge others because we know what it is like to be judged. We love hard and strong and will always be there for you and love you because you believed in us.