Being in pain constantly wears down your spirit and makes you susceptible to dark feelings of inadequacy. Even the most positive person can still succumb to those dark feelings; even the most positive person has a couple bad days where the chronic pain just drains their emotional bank until they are left feeling completely and utterly spent.
Pressing onward is hard when you have a chronic pain disorder. The daily pain, the surgeries, the specialist appointments – it wears on you, and it is okay to admit that. But, you can admit that and not accept that for what it is. You can admit that it’s hard and exhausting and still press onward anyway, because really…what else are you going to do? Giving up doesn’t feel so great, but pushing through all those feelings of inadequacy and doing something constructive despite how bad you feel…that feels good.
You can infuse more positivity in your life by simply acknowledging the good that you do, the ways that you win. Humans in general tend to focus on the bad – like how you slept in too late and your kids were late for school, or how you were too tired to make a healthy dinner so you made Kraft Dinner, but if you focus on the good and you reward yourself mentally for all that you are doing, your mindset will change. The way you see things and the way you react to things will change. You will be happier, and when you’re happy…it’s a little easier to deal with chronic pain.
Changing your mindset is a constant work in progress – but a lot of things in life take maintenance to remain in top form. Your mindset is no different.
I started out writing a list. Each time I did something, no matter how small, I wrote it down. My list looked a little something like this:
Woke up before 7am
Got dressed and ready
Woke kids up
Made my son’s lunch
Prepared breakfast for the kids
Got kids ready
Made it to the bus on time
Wrote a couple of articles
Swept and cleaned the kitchen
Tossed in a load of laundry
Took out something for dinner
Cleaned the kitchen again
Picked up son from school
Read TWO stories at bedtime
Made a dent in the current book I’m writing
….and so on and so forth. I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to. I didn’t get around to folding the laundry and I didn’t make it to the grocery store. But, I still did a lot despite how terrible and sore I felt. Seeing that list, seeing all the things that I did do, it made me realize that I do a lot. Like, a lot. On my really bad pain days, on the days where I don’t want to move…I basically just cut out the chores. Even then, that’s still doing a lot.
I started doing this more regularly, this positive list thing. I wrote down each and everything I did, no matter how small, and I focused on that. And I started to feel better about myself, because gosh darnit, I was accomplishing things! I am not inadequate!
And neither are you. You are not inadequate. It doesn’t matter if you had to take a rest day to nurse your aching bones, you are still not inadequate. You are a chronic pain warrior; you are fighting the great battle, and you’re doing a fantastic job with it.
Every now and then, it is necessary to throw a pity party for yourself. I get it, and I’ve been there. But one thing that you need to remember is to close up that party quickly and focus on all the good that you do and all the good that you are. MHE is just a part of who we are. At times…it can feel like the biggest part of who we are, but I assure you…it isn’t. The biggest part of who you are is your personality and how you carry the cards you’ve been dealt. You won’t be remembered as “that girl/guy with MHE”, you’ll be remembered for something greater.
When I was in hiding (which is basically what I called living life before I started to embrace who I was, MHE bumps and scars and all), people did just know me for my medical issues. They weren’t accurate in their knowledge, and they knew me only as “crutch girl”, but that was the thing they remembered about me because that was the only thing I showed (even if I didn’t want to show it, but crutches can be hard to miss in high school hallways). Now, I am known for writing. I’m not “crutch girl” anymore. People still know that I have a medical condition, but that’s not the thing they focus on…that’s not the thing that they define me with.
They define me with confidence. I am not as confident as I could (and should) be, but I am more confident than I was back then. Confidence is attractive, if you carry yourself with purpose than you are carrying yourself with confidence. People respond to that, to confidence. More importantly: you will respond to that.
So I implore you; start writing out your lists of positivity, do not let yourself get washed under the dark feelings of inadequacy that can and do accompany chronic pain – remember your worth. Remember that MHE is not the only thing in your life, good or bad. Remember that your attitude is your choice.