Life is not straightforward when you are in chronic pain. Sadly, around 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, and most of them have shared their experiences to reveal how tricky it can be. The fact is, chronic pain may affect every aspect of your everyday life, such as sleeping, cooking, hygiene, and more. It can change the way you live your life.
But the worst part about being a chronic pain sufferer is that your family member and friends often struggle to identify the pain you are in. This article is for all of those who have a dear one suffering from such kind of pain.
You might try to sympathize, and your intentions would be all good, but this does not mean that sufferers will always welcome that. And for this reason, such people may try their best to hide several pain-related things from you, even if you are caring and supportive. From medicines they use to their struggle to find a good pain clinic, there are many things that they don’t like to talk about. Here are 20 things a chronic pain sufferer does not want you to know.
They Are In Bad Mood
Naturally, we all can let go of the bad mood and look at the “brighter side”. This is not the same case with people with chronic pain. It’s very challenging to focus away from something that is with you most of the time. As a result, they cannot always be positive.
Even with a bad mood, they try to look cool because they don’t want to be treated differently or pitied. They also want to lead their lives in the best way possible, with that inevitable pain. This is their way of trying to accept this new version of normal. If we continuously pity them for their health condition, there will not be any space for the new normalcy.
They Are In Constant Pain
Most of the chronic pain sufferers try to look good in front of others. We do not know that they look good because of that makeup and multiple layers of concealers to hide pale complexions.
They intentionally make all the efforts to look OK and perhaps even try to appear extremely upbeat and happy. Many of us believe that people with pain have a similar, dreary kind of personality. However, that’s not the fact. They know how to alter their moods and they may be one of the ‘happiest’ people you know. They always try to stick with the positive things despite what they are experiencing inside. That’s perhaps they do not want to bring others down because of their illness.
They Are Masters Of “Cover-Up” Stories
You may find them making up different stories for avoiding social gatherings or even a family dinner sometimes. People who live with chronic pain go through various hardships that affect all the parts of their lives. With time, they learn how to stay away from such meetings to avoid attention. They mostly hate displaying their pain and never want others to feel that they are hitting a low point.
They Are Perhaps Abusing Drugs Or Alcohol
Many chronic pain patients count on drugs and alcohol to deal with their everyday pain and emotional distress. Such use of substance to self-meditate is common with chronic pain sufferers in the US. Even under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they learn to behave normally like keeping up with family obligations, visiting pain doctors and more. Such people may isolate themselves, claiming to be busy at work or something else. They mostly do this because they are afraid of your reactions. In some cases, they hide this to stay away from legal repercussions or maybe they are just ashamed.
Their Sleeping And Eating Habits Are Often Abnormal
You may consider this problem as a minor one, but it can affect your day-to-day happiness. Sleep is one of the most vital factors for your body. People with chronic pain cannot get enough sleep, even though it seems like they are always taking a nap. Rest can alleviate pain even better than painkillers, and this is why they try to get optimal sleep. The same applies to the food — they either eat too much or too less. Chronic pain creates an unwanted lack of control, and this results in abnormalities in eating and sleeping habits.
Their Condition Is Not Causing Them Financial Burden
Chronic pain is an invisible illness. Sufferers may seem pretty alright on the surface, but they might be suffering inside. Treating chronic pain involves various treatments, several visits to the doctors, medications and more. Patients may have to visit clinics after clinics to diagnose the exact cause of their pain. Needless to say, all such meetings, medicines, and treatments can be expensive. Plus, due to the debilitating pain, many patients cannot continue working that cost them income.
What Medicines They Are Using
Except for the doctors and family members, most chronic pain patients avoid sharing information about their medications. The main reason behind this is that people often try to underestimate their current medication and recommend something different. What’s worse, this draws negative perceptions about their ongoing medicines. People also come with some “my grandma with arthritis took this medicine and recovered overnight” kind of story that irritates the one who is in real pain.
They appreciate that people want to help, but the fact is, they have already heard about the alternative medicines you are talking about. They would have continued it if it had worked. Your constant attempts to suggest the ‘right cure’ for their pain depresses them as they know that this pain cannot be cured, but only managed.
They Sometimes Lack Motivation
Many people live with chronic pain for all their lives, and it seriously is a huge issue. It may take decades of constant trials, diagnosis, therapies and medications to heal. And staying emotionally strong is not always humanly possible. We all have our limitations, and it is just natural. For people with chronic pain, breakdowns or low points come when they have tried their best to stay positive. There come phases when they feel gloomy and depressed. Even though they appreciate support during such times, it does not mean that we have to keep pushing them to fight. Pushing themselves is something they have been doing throughout their lives. From eating to sleeping, from walking to showering, everything they do with a little push. They know how to keep things positive. Therefore, it is better to cut them some slack when they are upset at times. They are also allowed to feel a bit frustrated.
They May Be Less Optimistic Than Others
Chronic pain means a constant state of stress. This can severely impact a sufferer’s mental health, and ultimately, depression may arise. As a result of this, patients may exhibit a trait named depressive realism. This means that they may be more accurate and in control towards certain events than people without chronic pain.
Furthermore, they may be more pessimistic about their views of the future. Being too pessimistic and realistic usually cut them off from their circle, so they try to keep such thoughts to themselves.
They Often Hide Their Knowledge From The Community
Whether it is about their illness, possible treatments, or anything else, they are less likely to share their knowledge with other people. Mostly, their past experiences make them do this. It is natural for people to try finding the quick and long-lasting fix. When such patients try to talk about their illness, many refer to something more useful (as they claim).
Many also send them articles, supplements, suggest lifestyle changes and more to overcome pain. But the fact is, such patients have lived most of their lives with the pain, and no one else can get that better than themselves.
They Hide Their Different Attitude Towards Life
Constant pain and stress change the way you look at life. This changed attitude can either make it or break it. Through many medical treatments, they are trained to develop a certain mindset to combat pain.
Such patients use their mindset as their superpower and thus keep it from other people. Influence of different opinions and comments can impact their thought process.
They Lack Some Abilities Due To Pain
The pain levels of chronic pain patients often change, and so do their abilities. You cannot measure that by what they were able to do in the last week. With chronic pain, some days are good, and some days are bad. People often try to push such patients to perform things they cannot. This adds unnecessary stress and makes the pain even worse. Moreover, such things can cost them their job or chances of finding a new one.
Doing Everyday Work Can Wipe Them Out For Days
Most chronic pain patients do not want you to know that they cannot complete all the tasks from their to-do list in just a single day. They may try to achieve the maximum work in one go and later spend the next few days in a lot of pain. They keep this to themselves because it may impact their work life.
It Is Hard For Them To Focus Sometimes
Pain often gets all-encompassing, making the patients struggle to concentrate. As a result, they sometimes find it challenging to focus on several things they want to do, such as exercising, reading, writing, and more.
Having Sex Can Be Challenging For Them
Sexual intimacy can be more painful for chronic pain patients, especially those with pelvic floor pain, nerve pain in legs, and headaches. They do not like to admit this as it can lessen the chances of getting into a relationship.
They Struggle A Lot To Keep Their Words
You do not see many chronic pain patients doing things as normal people do. They do not always make commitments to go out with friends or family members as it can worsen the pain. However, if they give you a word, they make sure to keep it no matter how badly they are in pain. They don’t share this as they don’t like to be dictated by their condition.
They Sleep A Lot
Firstly, it is quite difficult for them to get a sound sleep due to pain. But when they get it, they want to utilize that as much as possible. With unusual and untimely sleeping habits, their daily routine is not just like any other person.
They Sometimes Avoid Contacting Other People, Deliberately
It is human nature to talk about the hottest topic when in a group. Sadly, in most cases, your chronic pain or illness is a hot topic. No one lives to reveal their own weaknesses, and this is why you may see these folks avoiding your calls or making excuses to prevent outings.
They Don’t Like Sharing Information About Their Pain Management Clinic Or Doctor
Finding the best pain doctor for your condition is already a tedious job, especially when you have so many options around. You are lucky if you find one. With so many people, come so many suggestions, followed by a lot of confusion. Ultimately, these patients don’t want you to know who their pain doctor is.
They Can’t Always Wear What They Want
You are less likely to see them in clothes with seams or elastic banding. This is more common with patients of fibromyalgia. A side seam on pants or waistbands can worsen the pain. Therefore, they mostly choose loose-fitting dresses, loose bras, and ideal shoes during pain days, even though they don’t like wearing them.