Things People with Chronic Pain Wish You Knew
Chronic pain is one of the most widespread conditions worldwide. It affects one in five Australians, causing depression, fatigue, sleep deprivation, and irritability. Severe pain is just one of its many symptoms. Things aren’t better in the U.S. either. This condition affects more Americans than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined.
Understanding Chronic Pain
The pain you feel when pulling a muscle or cutting your finger is normal. It goes away within days and doesn’t cause any major damage to your health. Chronic pain, on the other hand, lasts for at least three months– even after you’ve healed from injury. It can be constant or come in bouts, leading to a poor quality of life. You may become depressed, isolate yourself, and have a hard time performing daily activities. This invisible disease can interfere with your career and personal relationships.
Fortunately, there are ways to relieve chronic pain. About 80 percent of its symptoms can be managed through diet, lifestyle interventions and medication. However, this doesn’t make things easier for suffers. Anxiety, stress, poor sleep, and other factors can worsen their symptoms.
Additionally, pain relievers don’t always work. Over time, they can become less efficient, so you need to increase the dose or take stronger medications. These drugs may cause addiction and adverse reactions, such as hormonal imbalances, indigestion, migraines, and sleepiness.
Next week is Pain Awareness week in Australia. People from all around the country join forces to spread the word about this invisible illness. They launch public campaigns, make speeches, and educate the public. For them, simple activities, such as waking up in the morning or taking the stairs, are a struggle. The person next to you could suffer from severe pain despite looking healthy. Thus, it’s important to understand this disease and offer your support.
Here are a couple of things people with chronic pain wish you knew:
Chronic Pain Is an Invisible Illness
Pain is not a visible symptom. You can’t tell someone is in pain just by looking at them. Most people dealing with this condition try very hard to pass as normal. They take meds before going to work, plan their holidays between flare-ups, and smile despite feeling sick.
It’s Not All in Their Heads
For those struggling with chronic pain, their symptoms are as real as it gets. Pain is not something they can fake. Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If a friend or colleague tells you that they’re in pain, show some kindness.
The Pain Is Real
Chronic pain is different from acute pain. It doesn’t just come and go. In the long run, it can be debilitating. According to researchers, we tend to underestimate other people’s pain. As a result, we ignore their needs or accuse them of being lazy or seeking attention. Unless you’ve suffered from chronic pain, it’s hard to imagine how it really feels.
Happy and Healthy Are Not the Same Thing
Just because someone looks happy, it doesn’t mean they’re in good health. People with chronic pain look normal; they rarely show any signs of illnesses. However, they may feel miserable on the inside because of the pain and aches. Refrain from telling them things like “But you look so healthy!” or “You seem perfectly fine!” Even on a bad day, they probably do as much as they can. They go to work, smile, and socialize with their peers. But this doesn’t stop their pain.
They’re Not Lazy or Unreliable
Many times, people with chronic pain are forced to give up their plans because of a flare-up. Their peers make jokes about it or accuse them of being unreliable. What they don’t understand is that sometimes it hurts so bad that their bodies shut down completely. Thus, those suffering from chronic pain need to balance their actions carefully. Daily activities, such as walking, driving, or getting dressed, can be a struggle.
It’s More Than Just Pain
This disease causes more than just pain. It also affects a person’s mood, appetite, hormones, and ability to sleep. Sufferers often feel guilty or lose their self-confidence, become depressed, and experience anxiety before going out. They never know when pain strikes, which interferes with their ability to make plans.
Studies indicate a strong link between chronic pain and depression. Feeling sick all the time can wear you down and affect your mood. You may lose interest in the things you used to love, and feel like your whole world is falling apart. Fatigue, sleep problems, tiredness, and mood swings are common too. Moreover, chronic pain can worsen the symptoms of an existing depression.
Getting Up in the Morning Can Be a Chore
When you’re dealing with condition, getting up in the morning can be physically difficult. Every bone and muscle in your body hurts, and you’re feeling as if you’ve been hit by a train. For those with chronic pain, it’s a challenge every day to wake up and do the things healthy people do.
Chronic Pain Suffers Don’t Need Your Pity
Those struggling with chronic pain don’t need your pity. They just want to know that you’re next to them. Your love and acceptance are enough. If you have a friend suffering from chronic pain, treat them like a “normal” person. Don’t act as if they’re about to die. Try to help whenever possible – just like you would do for any other friend or colleague.
They Have a Hard Time Staying Focused
Many times, chronic pain suffers get fired or lose their friends simply because they have trouble concentrating. They find it difficult to hold a conversation, exercise, or complete a project. Their pain is so intense that they can’t focus on the tasks at hand.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t rely on them. They will return to work and get the job done as soon as they feel better. Remember that it’s not their fault. Respect their physical limitations instead of putting pressure on them.
Chronic pain can affect anyone. Some day, you may face this issue too. Show your support towards those who need it. Be kind and compassionate – your understanding can make all the difference.