“Ask me about my resilience and determination, where I find my strength, what motivates me to keep going and reminds me I can handle this pain, why I refuse to quit and what I am doing to “overcome” my invisible illness.”
I have learned a lot during my journey with chronic pain. The worst thing about having an invisible illness is that people have a very hard time believing you are sick because you look good on the outside. When people see me jogging, practicing yoga, or playing with my daughter they believe I am the healthiest, happiest, most pain free person one could meet. There is no way anyone would believe I had brain surgery and have had chronic pain for many years and now manage it naturally. I run because of chronic pain. I practice yoga because of chronic pain. Everything I do is in some way/shape/or form is part of how I manage chronic pain naturally. I have come a long way since my brain surgery. After having multiple surgeries, procedures, medications, pain medications, and being told by most doctors that I needed to be on some sort of medication or have another procedure done, I made a choice to manage chronic pain naturally and stop looking for a cure. No one can possibly understand the amount of work and dedication it takes to manage pain naturally and the most difficult and yet most effective tool I use is not talking about the pain. So people forget or worse do not believe you.
One does not have to understand what chronic pain feels like, in fact that is an impossibility. I cannot possibly understand what it feels like to have Cancer but I can obviously empathize and care for anyone who has a disease even if I cannot understand the true feelings and essence of Cancer. People with chronic pain only want their loved ones to acknowledge their pain and give them encouragement and support. Most of all people with chronic pain just want to have people believe their illness even if it is no longer visible. I have said this before but we cannot see air yet we breathe, we cannot see a higher being and yet most of us believe in one, and we cannot see heaven but believe it does exist. Just because one is unable to see something does not mean it does not exist.
Acknowledgement does not just apply to an invisible illness, it applies to people in general and what they want out of their loved ones. Acknowledgement. We do not need to understand other’s problems or stress but we can acknowledge the person and listen. In essence that is all we want: acknowledgement and belief. If you love someone with chronic pain do not give them pity or worse say something to the effect of: “Its all in your head.” No one makes chronic pain up and if we do not talk about the pain, it does not mean we are not feeling it. We are just being as strong as possible and using every possible tool and distraction to get through the difficult time.