By Megan Richardson, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You can’t help but think back to, more like daydream, about what life was like before the pain started, before the illness was “officially diagnosed.” Back when you had hope and felt some optimism about life and the future. If only you could go back to those times and truly appreciate the health, the freedom of mobility, the carefree feelings. Chronic pain or chronic illness hit a similar place in us as grief does so mourning is often an important and valid response. You have to mourn the life you thought you would have, mourn the life you wanted or dreamed of….at least in the ways you imagined it.
Chronic pain/illness can also leave you feeling isolated, alone, like an outsider looking in on the rest of the world living their lives...this can feel especially true when your pain/illness is not visible on the outside. Others don’t know the day to day struggle you experience, the excruciating pain that comes with seemingly mundane life tasks. They don’t know that you have to opt out of certain things or miss out because your body simply won’t allow it that day. Not only do you feel like an outsider to the rest of the world, but you also feel like a prisoner in your own world, your own body. This organism that sustains you, keeps you alive, has now failed you in some ways.
At SDICF we know that chronic pain/illness is a very challenging experience and that each person’s story is unique. We also understand that it can impact several areas of your life: work, family, friends, your mental health (particularly around depression and anxiety). Our hope and our hearts are for people with these experiences to begin to feel light again, like life isn’t over, even if it’s not what they thought it would be.
In addition to the appropriate medical care, it is vital for people with chronic pain/illness to take care of themselves holistically, and psychological care is a major component of that. Here at SDICF, we can help you:
Have a comfortable and safe place to process your journey and feel whatever you need to feel.
Address issues of depression, anxiety, and sleep hygiene (all major pain gateways when left unaddressed and can lead to increased occurrence and severity of chronic pain).
Create a new, more empowered story regarding the pain/illness, recognizing that “you are NOT your pain/illness,” because how we think about our pain is critical to successful outcomes.
Implement healthy and effective coping strategies and calming practices, in hopes that from a more centered place you will be able to move from “why” questions to “what now” questions and make hopeful and beneficial plans for your future.
If you are on a journey that includes chronic pain/illness we recognize that it is not easy and we would love to be invited into that process with you. You are the expert of your own story but sometimes we just can’t do it alone. We are here. Please reach out. #WeKnowHowToHelp.