Yesterday I shared some of the lessons I learned from battling chronic pain and injuries. Today, I am wrapping up by discussing a couple more strategies to help you preserve energy when feeling mentally and physically strung out. Here are my final two tips:
A solid support system is more powerful than any medicine
This lesson applies to both those battling pain and to the family members and friends of those in pain. To be quite honest, it wasn't until this year that I truly opened my arms and embraced the encouragement provided by a support system. Mostly because it was difficult to find others my age that "got it". I'm not saying that my friends weren't empathic towards my struggle. They just didn't know how to respond or relate to what was happening to me. THIS MAKES SENSE AND IS TOTALLY OKAY. What do you say to someone who is constantly sick, tired, or in pain? It's a complicated and a difficult subject to navigate! What I've learned is that I was actually making my condition WORSE by shutting people out. Surrounding myself with genuine friends and family members who accept and love me IN SPITE of my limitations is 100% INTEGRAL FOR BATTLING CHRONIC ILLNESS. There will be days where I want to give up There will be days when my strength runs out There will be days when I simply can not do the things, other people, my age can do... ...And having friends and family members to be there during those times means EVERYTHING. If you have a loved one who is battling a chronic illness, here is what you can do to provide them support and encouragement during a scary time. -Check on them. Check on them when they say they are doing well, check on them when they are doing bad, check on them when you haven't heard from them in a while.
-You don't have to provide them with life-changing advice. Just be there and listen to them.
-Remind them of their strength when they feel weak.
-Accept them for their weaknesses and don't be hard on them if their energy runs out
-DO generate conversation about the benefits of talk therapy or psychiatric intervention. There is NOTHING WRONG with seeking this type of help. Physical health goes hand and hand with mental health.
-DON'T make suggestions of medical alternatives… "Have you tried cutting out gluten? Have you seen this doctor? Have you thought about starting to exercise?" THESE SUGGESTIONS WILL NEVER BE HELPFUL.
-Just be there for them and ask what you can do to help! Encouraging them to hang in there might be one of the best things to do.
Chronic Pain teaches you the importance of appreciating the good
Life, unfortunately, is not magical rainbows and unicorns all the time. Sometimes life is shit, other times people are shit, and if you are battling chronic pain, your body will constantly feel like shit. I've found that in my own journey, it's less about labeling a day as good or bad. Instead, it's about searching for good moments amidst the bad. A cup of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Catching up with a good friend over lunch. Winding down in the evening with a new book. Going for a walk outside without pain. Experiencing a random act of kindness from a stranger. The list could go on forever. I think this comes down to focusing on the present instead of worrying about the future. When you can find these sweet moments sprinkled throughout the day, it makes pushing through the hard days a little more bearable.
As I wrap things up…. Please remember… I am not a psychologist, a chronic pain specialist, or another doctor. I am just Hannah, a 24-year-old trainer, who wants to use her own journey to help and be there for YOU!
I hope you enjoyed this series on chronic pain and injuries and perhaps gained a new perspective or sensation of hope. Please let me know if there is anything I or the other trainers at PAC could do for you.