Conflicting Philosophies on Chronic Pain

In honor (lol) of migraine awareness month, here is another poast on the topic.

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There are two basic ways of dealing with chronic pain, and neither is “right” nor “wrong.” They are simply different. One may work for you, or the other might be more helpful. One may be more useful at certain times in your life (say 9-5) and the other at different times (nights and weekends, possibly). I’m just throwing some ideas on the table and clarifying them for myself via the written word, as I do.

1. Fake it ’til ya make it.

This is the traditional approach of visualizing the thing you want (a happy, pain-free existence) by pretending you already have it and smiling, acting cheerful, never mentioning your ailments, etc. Just ignore the throbby slammy hammer pounding itself through your eyeball and soon you won’t even notice it’s there cuz you’ll be having so much freakin’ fun! Seriously this sometimes works for me a little if only because I just don’t even want to talk about the fact that I’m feeling awful (especially in the office), since it doesn’t help anything and why bother; while I might not be chipper I can get immersed in a task, and there are times (if I’m lucky) the pain may subside somewhat.

2. Eff that ~ lying is stressful.

What a relief to read on the migraine site that we don’t have to fake it. As if it isn’t stressful enough to suffer from migraines, we also have to deal with society’s pressure to always be happy and smile. Why? Because we make other people uncomfortable if we don’t. Well, that’s their problem, isn’t it? Our problem is that we’re in horrible pain, nauseated, dizzy, etc. They’ll just have to deal with the fact that we aren’t flippin’ cheerful at the mo. This is my preferred approach outside of work. If I’m in pain, I’m not gonna lie about it to my family and friends. If I need to rest at home, that’s what I’ll do. Why the heck would I lie, say I feel great, go out to a loud, bright movie, and throw up? Dumb!

“Not trying to be positive all the time is a radical act of self-care.” ~ Kerrie Smyres, from the above-linked article.

6 responses to “Conflicting Philosophies on Chronic Pain

  1. {{{Paula}}}

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m strongly in the “Eff That” camp. I mean, not to the degree that you’re going out of your way to make sure everyone’s up to speed on your suffering (you know the type I mean — your basic martyr sorts that infest the landscape, an ongoing bane of modern life) but more to the “it’s not my job to be a brave little camper to make you comfortable” philosophy. Nothing makes me crazier (a lie, most likely — a lot of things probably do make me crazier) than the requirement that when you’re a hurting unit, whether suffering a cold, flu, migraine, a broken bone, or cancer, that you’re required to be all stiff-upper-lip about it and Be Brave. Fuck that. You (or that poor little sod in the hospital bed with aggressive leukemia) is the one suffering, and the fact that everyone gives y’all points for Bravely Battling On is a singularly twisted form of self-indulgence by everyone else. The fact is that people who are hurting (on all kinds of metrics, not just physical, by the way) should be able to rely on others to understand that you not Bravely Enduring — in fact sometimes falling completely into pain and despair — isn’t a failing. It’s an acknowledgement of real life, and the sufferer already has plenty on their plate, thank you very much, without taking on the burden of making everyone else feel better. It’s everyone else’s job to go a little (or a lot) out of their way to mitigate the suffering, not the other way around or, at a minimum, to stay the fuck out of the way, and not hover over plucky little sufferers and squeezing the last drops of “bravery” out of them like a ghoul feeding off the grit they can’t find in themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That really sucks. I’m sorry. As far as the philosophies, I think I’m more in the fake-it camp, at least a little bit. It makes sense to me that getting sympathy for my pain might actually make it worse, simply because I’m focusing on it. At any rate, seeking, or getting, sympathy, has never, ever made it better. Not once. But a lot of what you are saying is, be realistic. I agree with that, and the idea that it’s a waste of time to try to play the brave little patient.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sorry you get migraines … second style sounds healthier … self-care is far more important 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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