So many of us who deal with chronic pain struggle to see ourselves in any kind of positive light
It is a strange thing that so many of us who deal with chronic pain have a hard time seeing ourselves in any kind of positive light. When you think about it, every single day that we deal with our disease or, sadly, all too often a cocktail of diseases, we demonstrate incredible attributes that frequently are only learned by walking through “fire.” I know that this is true for myself as I live not only with chronic intractable migraine, but also a host of other painful conditions that rear their ugly heads unpredictably. Instead of seeing myself as STRONG, RESOURCEFUL, COURAGEOUS and of VALUE, I frequently struggle with fear, doubt, discouragement, hopelessness, lack of value, and a sense of purposelessness.
This past year I have noticed that my attitude towards what has now become my life has done a radical change. It’s not that I have less pain, or that there is any immediate hope of pain relief on the horizon (unfortunately two of the new migraine treatments were a failure for me), but rather that I have finally started to accept this life that I never asked for or expected. I must be a slow learner because my earliest memories are of explosive migraine attacks, but hey… better late than never! It’s not that I don’t go into that dark hopeless place any more, (most of us know this place all too well), no… it’s just that I am finally learning to listen to and take care of my body. Let go of the guilt when I spend endless days in bed or on the couch. Search for ways to use the pain for some kind of purpose, even if that is just letting others know that they are not the only ones struggling. And… I have learnt to be tenacious in pursuing treatments and information that may, just possibly, help. Most of all, however, I am learning to frequently remind myself of the positive, even when it is something small – and honestly, sometimes it is very small, but that’s ok!
I know that I am not the only one. There are so many of you who also do not see yourselves as you really are. So, I wanted to remind you that you are awesome, and your illness does not define you:
- You are STRONG : it takes someone of incredible strength to deal with this kind of pain and still go on
- You are RESOURCEFUL : it takes an unbelievable amount of resourcefulness to constantly source information on medical treatments, doctors, dealing with health insurance, & just surviving financially
- You are COURAGEOUS : anyone with chronic pain who gets up day after day is courageous; this doesn’t mean you are not afraid, it just means that you face the fear of pain today, tomorrow, and in the future with courage
- You are GIFTED : your disease does NOT define you! You are gifted in so many ways that pain can never take away.
- You are LOVABLE : yes, you! We have a tendency to apologize endlessly for a disease we did not cause and cannot control; but love is not about how much money you make, gifts you can give, or activities you can do – it’s just about who you are.
- You are TENACIOUS : you’re still here, right? Then you are tenacious! You have not given up despite the roadblocks and hurdles so frequently placed in front of you by insurance companies, employers, & the medical profession. Even if you are discouraged, anxious and depressed, you are still trying and that is HUGE!
- You are COMPASSIONATE : dealing with chronic pain on a regular basis changes us – one of those changes is for the better and that is compassion for others who are struggling. This is no small thing and when we are kind & compassionate to others, it has a tendency to have an awesome ripple effect
- You are of INFINITE VALUE : this one can be hard to grasp! So much of our self-value is often tied up in how much we make, how well we can provide for our families, what kind of job we have, and how much we can do. But this is NOT your value. All these can fall apart, and often do with chronic illness, but you still have infinite value.
Every day try looking for something positive in yourself and something positive in your life – even if it is a tiny thing. Acknowledge the small steps you take because for us, those small steps are all too often crossing huge chasms. Be kind to yourself, courageously face the future, and above all …. know that you are not alone!
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