by Tracy Rydzy, MSW, LSW
April 30, 2013
I will be the first to admit that living in chronic pain can make me a bit…sensitive. I think when you live with pain or a disability, there is a tendency to think that people are judging you or criticizing you. I often feel a sense of inferiority at not being able to do what women my age can do. I also tend to feel there is a stigma attached to being chronically ill and, especially, to taking pain medication.
Through my discussions with fellow chronic pain sufferers and from my own experience, I have compiled a list of things that I am often told that people think are helpful, but for most of us, they are not. I am cautious in how I state this because I know that most people mean well and really are trying to help. I also know that after a couple of years living with this, many people feel they need to walk on eggshells with me. I am sure no one wants their support system to feel that way, so here are some things I personally find less than helpful:
1- “You just have to accept that this is God’s plan and have faith.”
This is one of the most difficult things for me to hear because it transfers my anger to my higher power and that is not healthy for my faith. By telling me that I am living in pain is part of some master plan does not increase my faith, but rather harms it. I know there is a reason for everything and everything happens for a reason, but when repeatedly told to “just have faith,” I feel angered because what I think many people do not realize is that I do have faith, if I didn’t, I couldn’t live with all the negative things in life and survive.
2- “You just need to relax.”
My pain is not the result of being anxious or uptight. I have tried yoga, meditation and weekly massages, but it doesn’t make my pain go away. Loved ones need to recognize that living with chronic pain comes with anxieties. But these anxieties are not the root of my pain, they are the byproduct of it. Reminding me that I need to relax or calm down does not help me relax, it does the opposite.