Living with a chronic pain disorder isn’t easy. The simplest of tasks can seem impossible and daunting on a particularly bad pain day, and energy is sparse. You spend so much of it focusing on holding your body in positions that don’t aggravate your sore spots. It’s very easy to fall into huge bouts of depression, because it can be quite debilitating to be in pain more than you are not in pain.
It can – and does – suck the enjoyment out of things. I used to find myself making excuses to get out of doing things, because I knew there would be hell to pay for it afterwards. I’d miss out on group camping trips with my friends, on hikes to the beautiful Warsaw Caves, on trips to Wonderland. I’d even miss out on a night on the town, because all that standing, walking around, and dancing would aggravate my usual aches and pains threefold.
But then I realized…I wasn’t really living. I wasn’t really enjoying the things that I wanted to enjoy. I was letting MHE and pain rob me of making memories. That’s when I made the conscious decision to stop making excuses.
I created a new coping method; the motto of: push through it. If I want to do something, I force myself to do it. I won’t make excuses about why I can’t, because I won’t let my MHE rob me of the things I want to experience and enjoy. Even if I hurt while doing it, the feeling of completing the task is all the reward I need to keep going.
The easiest way to change your mindset is to re-evaluate what you want out of life. I make a list of the upcoming things that I really want to do, and one of the things I’d like to do, and finally one of the things that I can live without doing. Then I tackle the list of things I really want to do. Crossing each fun activity off the list gives me the power to get through the days of recovery.
I’ve done so many things that I wouldn’t have been able to do a few years ago. I used to bubble myself, sheltering my body from the inevitable storm of pain – but that storm came anyway, and I didn’t even have the warming thought of “Well, at least I did it!” to get me through the storms. Now I do, and it makes all the difference. I may have to spend more time recovering after an excursion, but I recover with a smile on my face because I am proud that I did it.