A few years ago I began developing a lot of crappy symptoms that snowballed into inflammation issues: fibromyalgia (I call it miscellaneous drawer illness), chronic fatigue syndrome (non-tse tse fly sleeping sickness), arthritis (old before I’m old bone disorder), and migraines (no shitter headaches). I have immunity issues that predate the pain party but this is straight-out-stupid-ridiculous body aches, swelling and discomfort and the general description of “chronic pain” is an understatement.
Pain is powerful.
It’s crap on a cracker when you get hurt and have to deal with pain. Breaking an arm, recovering from surgery, getting sick, stubbing your toe, all those blow chunks. When you feel constant pain, it starts dominating your whole life. That you can’t find relief from it is more than stress on your body, it pitches your entire psyche in the toilet. And on days like today I’d like to flush the pain, as well as my life, away.
It’s that bad.
Consulting with a doctor about chronic pain is as effective as consulting with a rock.
Okay maybe that is a sorta-kinda exaggeration but when doctor after doctor shrugs their shoulders it starts feeling like you are mental as hell. I hurt. It’s real. It’s not fiction. I’m not complaining for the sake of talking to new people. I don’t even like people, I would never want to meet knew people to dislike just to list things that make me vulnerable to them. Pain levels aren’t something that others can see on a test result though; test results show the reasons pain may exist, not pain. The actual pain is all on the person who feels it. Doctors can’t treat something that isn’t there, and they can’t tell you what is wrong if their tests don’t tell them.
If you are in pain I’m here to tell you that no one else has to validate it through a diagnosis. If they can’t give you a diagnosis it’s not that you don’t have pain.
We store trauma on the inside.
My psychologist is amazing and I’m not just saying this because she is going to read this. I’ve lucked out and found two in a long list of unhelpful therapist that have made a difference, sadly those odds are not uncommon. Most people don’t even know they have substandard care. I’m lucky. Dr. T has helped me with all different suggestions to help me cope. A few months ago we decided to try something very different and experimental, a trauma therapy that looks at the psychological association physical pain plays with PTSD. I like the approach. I’m unsure how to handle it though, it’s a process that I’m having a hard time processing.
Trauma isn’t always a massive event and the impact of it isn’t always a sharp defining impression.
I was a broken, beat down kid. I was a strange and awkward teen. I was a chaotic and impulsive new adult. I was a hot mess for the majority of my twenties and thirties. And I’m trying to put the pieces together of a puzzle that has been been forming for the past forty years. It’s truly hard to be a positive, healthy adult with the handicap I have of growing up the way I did. It’s even more so when you are being crippled by physical pain every moment of your present days. Pain isn’t a character trait though, it’s a description. I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m not pain, it’s something I feel.
Sorta like when I was young and I thought I was wrong because I felt wrong.
The cure is often as bad as the illness.
I have arthritis in my back and hips, I also have a few disc compressions which are a ton of non-fun. The best plan of action is management for the situation: Cymbalta, acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic adjustments, a couple Tylenol, Advil or Aleve, lots of fluids, and sleep. Pain management is a round the clock job but the positive results are worth it, it is treating the symptoms. And I have to tell you that a lot of times doctors are going to make you pick a symptom to treat. You may have five different issues and they are going to make you select one to treat. It’s not that they suck, well sometimes they suck, but most of the time they are trying to throw a dart at an invisible target. They don’t know any better than you, why you’re in pain.
And sometimes the root cause is very complex.
Therapy is hard.
Dr. T and I were and are aware that there would be/is psychological factors causing the physical pain I feel. If nothing more the physical manifestations of stress that my body would have when looking back at the many impacting experiences I’ve had. It’s not like I’m making up health issues for attention. Pain is there, but it is more of an echo of something mentally painful that isn’t unlike catching lightning in a bottle. Often the blows you are suffering from aren’t physical; it’s worse–it is an incident that crushed something far more delicate within you that no band-aid or antibiotic could heal.
Looking into one’s past is not unlike summoning demons.
I had a fantastic session with Dr. T a few weeks ago that was followed by a shitstorm of physical unhappiness. I call this all over breakdown body failure. It used to come after manic or hypomanic cycles; my head could keep going but my body was done. I would crash, get sick, and take weeks to recover. Mania and hypomania is like putting a firecracker inside a metal barrel; there is a crap load of things firing off, lots of noise, tons of sparks and flickers. The outside of the barrel doesn’t show the damage the inside experienced.
Looking at the barrel you see nothing other than a barrel.
Pain from bad experiences is an internal injury.
I felt as if I were a tortured barrel in the days after my visit with Dr. T. I wanted to cry but it wouldn’t come. Then the physical pain came, but I still couldn’t cry. I’m such a stuffer that processing the therapy isn’t happening. I take bad events, bad feelings, negativity and I compartmentalize them. I put it in the back of my head where I don’t have to spend a great deal of time looking at it. I just bottle those things up and try to focus forward. That worked for a long time but there is a problem with storing too much data on this memory media now; it’s full, the information is being corrupted, and the performance is being compromised.
Stuffing and bottling up emotions is like swelling on a physical injury.
You can only take so much inflammation under the skin before it breaks open. If your emotions swell from an injury it doesn’t only stress your psyche, it stresses the entire symptom. This therapy we are doing is trying to make me look at my emotional stuffing and physical eruptions. Fake it ’til you make it is to pull you out of the junk and funk that makes you too heavy to move, but when you are headed somewhere you need to look at the reason you are faking it. Processing feelings isn’t something I’m good at. I am an ace knowing the feelings I have but not the turmoil that produces them.
Mental pain is exactly like physical.
I don’t blame therapy on body failure.
All work is challenging. This obviously is having an impressive impact on me as far as mental and physical stress concerns. It doesn’t mean I give it up, if anything it says that this method is working but is going to be something I need to practice. The fact that I bottle things up and stuff them down means that they are going to come out in spurts and eruptions. The unfortunate side effect of that is going to be be painful. Dr. T and I are going to hit many of my triggers and I need to deal with my pain.
The future isn’t set in stone by how you feel right now.
I know this level of pain will eventually settle, but serious depression is setting in, with it is desperation. I won’t lie and say I haven’t looked at my pain medication and imagined taking all of them to make the pain stop. It’s hard seeing the responsibility of care for me, the cats and the house landing on my husband’s shoulders; seeing his growing unhappiness. I can’t help the thought that comes time to time if he would be happier without having a sick wife. Maybe he could find someone better for him than me. He could move on. He could be free.
Life is hard.
My job in times like this is not to let those negative thoughts and urges in my head, guide my hands. I know I can’t overdose because it would be giving my husband the experience in mental pain I am trying to process. Grief is an internal injury, dying would give him that injury. I can’t cut–hell if I don’t I want to cut hard and cut deep and get something out. I can’t lay down and not fight for those moments that will come when my guy and I will both be happy. Those days at the beach where I will feel free. Those talks with my baby sister that will make me laugh without my back feeling like my spine will rupture. Those quiet times that will come when I have control of some of my demons.
A good thought is powerful.
I can’t do the easy thing right now because it’s my choice, not my pains choice, on how I live. I’m certainly having a bad showing right now of my coping skills in the light of this therapy session that rocked me. It’s going to be worth it get this mental hemorrhaging under control and choosing a better future than I’ve experienced.