For some people, pain is an everyday condition. Chronic. Lasting longer than three months. It shapes the way they shop for groceries, parent their children, and manage their relationships. Pain becomes the focus of life. Pain makes life a delicate thing, too fragile to be robust, too uncertain to be lived fully.
The approximately 1.5 billion worldwide chronic pain sufferers know that life can be shattered into a million pieces by pain.
They also know that:
- Chronic pain is not in their head
- They would choose not to have chronic pain if they could
- They are doing the best they can on any given day, and “the best they can” may change daily
- They want to be free from pain
- They are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental disorders like anxiety than those without chronic pain
- They need the support and love of their family and community to better deal with pain
Chronic pain patients understand their pain, but September is Pain Awareness Month, and it was created to educate those who are still unaware. Pain Awareness Month focuses on bringing pain into the light and helping chronic sufferers, their communities, and their families deal with it.
This month, Partners for Understanding Pain, an organization of 80 different groups and individuals, comes together to educate, enlighten, and enliven the discussion of chronic pain and its care.
Their mission is to:
- Create greater understanding among health care professionals, individuals, and families who are struggling with pain management
- Show the business community, legislators, and the general public that pain is a serious public health issue
- Offer a comprehensive network of resources and knowledge about issues in pain management
- Build understanding and support that can help people with chronic, acute, and cancer pain lead better lives
Pain Awareness Month is the piece of the pain puzzle that helps create the full picture, but each individual pain sufferer contributes a piece. With every passing day, and with events like Pain Awareness Month, more people are understanding the social, mental, physical, and economic toll that chronic pain can have on sufferers, friends, and family. This understanding is empowering. You don’t have to be your pain. You don’t have to feel like a victim. With the community gathering around you, now is the time to change your mind about pain and how it will be a part of your life.
You don’t have to make it the focus
Of course there may be days when the pain is overwhelming, but you can get through it. Reading the stories of those who have can be helpful and empowering. Meditation, walking, and yoga can help. Creating something beautiful, or keeping a gratitude journal can help you to see that there is something beyond what you are feeling in this moment.
You don’t have to be silent
Share your own story. Talk with the people around you. Many people don’t understand what it means to be in chronic pain. Help them to know your struggle, and help them to see deeper. Your children may have fears or be worried about you, especially if they are very young. Talk to them and let them know that you will be okay and that you are there for them.
You can take action
Even your physician may not have the most up-to-date information on pain treatment options like natural or holistic treatments. The American Chronic Pain Association has tools and resources to help you get started in your search. Take the information you find to your health care provider, and talk to them about treatment options.
You can choose how you react
On the days when it is physically possible to do so, you can choose to give in to pain and let it dictate what your day looks like, or you can choose the path of your day. The pain is very real, but if you can’t make it disappear completely, you can decide to move forward with your life anyway. Change your mind about how you will react to each challenge. Change the way you think about your pain.
You can inspire others with your life
You can be and do everything you choose. By moving forward, staying positive, and choosing to live the way you want to live, you can inspire and help others to do the same. You never know who might be moved by your courage and struggle. You never know how you might change someone else’s life simply by choosing to not give in and not give up.
You can choose to live this quote: “Chronic pain shatters lives. Let’s change that.”
Maybe your pain has sent your world spinning. Maybe your family doesn’t understand, or maybe they just don’t know what you are going though. Take Chronic Pain Awareness Month and begin to change that. Chronic pain can feel very isolating. Help others around you understand what you are going through by seeking them out and inviting them in. You can choose to change your life with chronic pain. You can choose to put the pieces back together.
It’s time to change the way chronic pain sufferers live. It’s time to change the focus and to move forward. Maybe chronic pain has shattered your life, but you can change that. Where will you start?