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Strength in the Midst of Pain

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“No matter how justified you are in your negative emotion, you are still messing up your future.”

Abraham Hicks

When I first read the quote above I found it to be quite harsh however the quote stuck with me and every time something I read or hear stays in my mind, I know there is some meaning in it for me.  Everyone who has chronic pain is beyond justified to feel many negative emotions.  I lived, breathed, and survived through negative emotions for over ten years due to chronic pain.  You are all beyond justified to feel depressed, angry, frustrated, misunderstood, and at times hopeless.  Despite how far I have come with my personal journey with chronic pain I am still justified in feeling negative emotions at times due to my invisible illness.  However, there came a time for me and it will come for you as well that you realize you do have a choice in how you manage your pain and how you allow your pain to either better your life or destroy your life.  Pain destroyed everything in my life for a solid third of my time in this world.  Once I did the hardest work of my life and began to manage pain naturally and found ways to live with chronic pain without it controlling my life, my days began to get better and better therefore leading to a better future, a future I never imagined I would have.

As most of you know I had a terrible loss ten days ago and although I am still filled with a multitude of emotions and can cry at the drop of a hat, the cry of a baby, or even a commercial for diapers I have come to a point where I am once again excited to make and bring a healthy, happy baby into this world.  I never lost hope but I am now changing my thoughts (as much and as often as I can) into positive thoughts.  When I first heard those words ten days ago: “There is no heart beat”  I felt like my heart and soul were being ripped to shreds and I did lay in bed for days crying and catastrophizing.  I did not want to celebrate Thanksgiving and the thought of Christmas made me cry harder than one can imagine.  But, I awoke one morning and decided to get up and get back to living.  I got back to my natural management of chronic pain routine.  For a week I have been waking up at five am, exercising, writing, decorating for Christmas, and began to remember how much I have to be grateful for.  I took the picture above of my daughter Kayci on Thanksgiving.  She is an angel.  Had I not had a miscarriage on February 2nd, 2010 my daughter would not be here and the world would not be the same.  She makes people happy.  She has a zest for life that gives others a zest for life they did not know they still had.  I know from the bottom of my heart that the loss I just faced not only saved a baby from a very painful life but also is going to allow another angel come into the world, just as the loss I faced in 2010 brought Kayci into this world.

We never can say what, when or how emotional pain will settle (not go away) but calm down to a state of acceptance and we are not supposed to know as we all grieve in our own ways and no one can be judged for how they deal with their pain or grief.  There is no time limit.  I awoke a couple days ago and my first thought was not of the excruciating pain of the loss that just occurred but with an excitement to start over.  I believe chronic pain and other challenges I have faced in this world have given me an added boost of strength because had this happened years ago I would still be in bed crying.  I do not want to forget all I have while working towards what I want, what my family wants, what my angelic daughter wants.  It will happen.  Yes, I am still grieving and I would be lying if I said I did not cry once or twice a day but I am still grateful and excited for my future.  I am justified to have many negative emotions and I did live in those negative emotions for days.  I want to be positive and happy and I do thank God for my faith that dreams do come true but not on our schedule.

I want to dedicate this post to Kristen who recently wrote me an email and helped me see the strength I do have.   I know you all have that strength too even if you do not see it at this moment.

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Desperation and Chronic Pain

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Do not ever lose your sense of humor, no matter how difficult your journey is at this given time and place.  I believe two things got me through my toughest years of searching for a cure to my invisible illness: the love for my family and the rare times I laughed.  Ironically my dad is the person who fit into both these categories: I did not give up because of my love for him and there were times he was truly the only person who could make me laugh.

If you understand the above cartoon, I’m sorry for your battle with chronic pain.   I remember back when I was in a terrible place with my invisible illness cancelling doctor appointments on a monthly basis because I was literally in too much pain to get out of bed, get dressed, and drive anywhere.  I chose to lay in bed on those days and just cry at the unfairness of my disease and the frustration I had that I could not find any relief no matter what doctor, medication, surgery, or specialist I tried.  I did not claim medical bankruptcy for buying clothes and having fun.  I was spending all our families money on one thing: a cure to my never-ending pain.

I started laughing today as I was playing with my daughter because the most random memory came into mind.  It was around the year 2001 and I was on my tenth year of searching for a cure to chronic pain.  I was living in Boulder, Colorado living two lives: one life was with my friends having fun drinking and living the crazy college life; the other life searching for a holistic cure to chronic pain as I truly thought I had put in my ten years using Eastern medicine and Colorado was a great place to find a ton of different approaches to pain.  Did any of them work?  No.  I was living two lives.  It is hard to follow your nutritionist’s advice to stop eating all wheat based foods and be drinking vodka tonics most nights.  Talk about an oxymoron.   Back to the funny memory (this memory is funny now but at the time it was anything but humorous.)  My dad was visiting me in Colorado for his birthday and Easter.  His visits meant the world to me but I really wanted him to believe I was doing a lot better than I was despite the fact that I was still on my now eleven year search for a cure to chronic pain.  I was seeing a hypnotist at the time who claimed she could cure all the pain I had.  After a few sessions and no relief she recommended me seeing her friend who used the newest technology to help people who were in physical pain.  I remember my dad taking me to this ‘doctor’s’ office and literally praying that the hypnotist was correct and this magic machine could cure me.  This was a moment of intense desperation.  The ‘doctor’ charged a fortune for me to sit alone in a room with what appeared to look like an oval robot.  I am not making any of this up.  After paying him an exuberant amount of money, he had me sit in a room by myself with this robot that apparently set off magnetic frequencies that dulled or removed a human’s physical pain.  Both this doctor and robot made out well that afternoon, but I was a hot mess.  Not only did I feel beyond dumb, I realized I had come to a point in my battle with chronic pain where I was relying on an oval, black machine to cure my invisible illness.  It was mere weeks later that I hit my rock bottom and ended up at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  Looking back, I can thankfully laugh at this madness but at the time I was in seriously bad shape.

This story that I just threw out there may seem very odd to the average person but to a person with chronic pain this anecdote is sadly much more common than one would believe.  People with chronic pain will literally do ANYTHING to relieve their pain.  You may think he or she is crazy but as Elvis Presley once stated: “We are all addicted to something that takes the pain away.”  Part of my addiction to my invisible illness was searching for a cure and I am more than grateful that I found a way to live, laugh, and be the person I am today despite never finding that cure.  None of you are crazy and I know all of you can one day laugh at the madness we put ourselves through because of chronic pain.

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All Pain is REAL

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My family and I watched the movie last night entitled: “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day” starring Steve Carrel.  The movie is based on my favorite children’s book and I was extremely impressed by how funny, witty, and thought provoking the movie turned out to be.  I honestly cannot wait to watch it again.  I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for the most part and the reason was due to pain, however it was not due to chronic pain.  That sentence may only make sense to those who also suffer from chronic pain.

One of my main tools for managing pain naturally is not talking about it.  However, for this post I must point out where exactly my chronic pain is located.  Because of my bike accident and subsequent brain surgery my pain is located in my face, head and neck.  I had many surgeries to “cure” my chronic pain before I began managing it naturally which only made my chronic pain that much worse.  However, this week I had my first real back ache.  Of course, I have had back issues since my accident but not chronically.  The worst of my chronic pain has always been in my face and head.  For over ten years, while I was searching for a cure to my chronic pain I took many medications, was at the doctor’s at least twice a week, and lived my life on the search for a cure for my invisible illness.  I never slept because the pain was too intense and over the years as each doctor, medication, and surgery did not relieve my pain I became depressed, agitated, angry, and began to isolate myself because I could not deal with being around anyone, even my family because pain had totally took over my entire existence.  Jessica and Pain were one of the same.

When I did hit my rock bottom and truly was at my worst: living in Boulder Colorado, not going to school, seeing doctors constantly, drinking all the time with friends, and crying day in and day out I finally went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  I unwillingly entered a program called the Pain Rehab Center where I learned how to manage pain naturally.  To this day I utilize the tools I learned there and have found a fulfilling life despite pain.  When I first entered the program I was pissed, and more depressed than ever.  No one looked sick.  Then again I did not look sick either but at the time I was so focused on my pain I could not imagine anyone else feeling as terrible as I did.   At that point I thought my pain had to be visible because it was all I could see.   There were about twenty people in my group and all had chronic pain but no one was talking about their pain.  Some people were laughing, walking around, reading, playing board games, emailing friends as I sat there thinking: “This is crap.  I could never be able to read or email a friend because my pain is way too much to bear.  It is hard enough to sit in a chair much less laugh with people I do not know.”  I wanted to quit.  My dad being my voice of reason urged me to stay in Minnesota and give the program a chance.  A few days in I began to hear people’s stories.  Turns out everyone did have chronic pain but no one had had brain surgery or pain in their face and head.  Some people had chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, phantom leg pain, migraines, etc.  I always thought having any kind of chronic pain other than my own would be better.  Having chronic pain throughout my face and head was and can still be torture.  I thought back then if I had back pain or phantom pain I could at least read or do this or that.  I learned this week how wrong my thoughts back then were/are.

I am not sure why I have had a back ache this past week.  I came down with a stomach virus just yesterday as well so maybe they are correlated but I really do not care why my back hurts.  I learned a long time ago that trying to figure out why something hurts will only bring more attention to the pain.  This is not always a good thing and as a disclaimer I would like to say that it is always important to not ignore pain or any ailment for too long as there are times something could be seriously wrong.  However, I knew nothing was life threatening and I was just coming down with something and/or had over worked my muscles through exercise or just not taking enough breaks.  However, severe back pain is awful!!!!  I had insomnia for over three nights.  As I was laying in bed those nights that turned into mornings I remembered all those in the Pain Rehab Center with me.  I was a hypocrite at the time.  Pain is pain.  Chronic pain is chronic pain: visible or invisible.  Now I know what severe back pain feels like and it is just as bad as my chronic pain is: just in a different area of my body.  I am thankful to not have chronic back pain and as it is slowly going away I am grateful.   All of us who have chronic pain have critics within our life and those who are not in our life.  Many people do not believe our pain.  There is a huge stigma related to invisible illnesses.  I have been writing for over three years in hopes to help those with chronic pain and all invisible illnesses for that matter.  We need to stick together.  Does it matter where our pain is?  Chronic pain is an invisible illness that affects our lives in more ways that I can count.  Why even ask another where someone’s pain is located?  I learned this week after days of severe back pain that that pain was no different than when I was in the wraths of hell with my chronic pain which is located in my face, head, and neck.  There is enough judgement surrounding chronic pain.  Let us never judge one another who understand chronic pain.  Pain is pain and we need to be a support system not a group of individuals trying to figure out whose pain is worse than someone else’s.  Do not forget the three most important words to say to one with any invisible illness: I BELIEVE YOU.

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Anxiety and Chronic Pain

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I have yet to meet a person who has chronic pain but has no anxiety symptoms as seen above.  What came first: chronic pain or anxiety?  I believe for everyone this is different and I am not a huge fan of the: what came first: the chicken or the egg theory anyways.  In the end, who cares?  You have chronic pain and you are dealing with the dreaded invisible illnesses that hop on board with the relentless pain you are already facing.  I personally know that I have had anxiety problems since I was a child.  Even at the young age of six I worried about everything.  I remember nighttime being the worst because I was never able to turn my young mind off.  I worried about things that were in my reality and things that no child or adult should waste their time thinking about.  My dad once took me to my pediatrician because I had such problems with insomnia: I was nine!  My bike accident happened in my young teens which resulted in brain surgery and a life with chronic pain.  Chronic pain did not help my anxiety at all.  I have written this before but I fully believe this to be true: the fear of pain is often times worse than the pain itself.  I no longer look for a cure for chronic pain and manage pain totally naturally.  However, I still have some difficult days or nights but they do not rule my life by any means.  I over did things yesterday and was overly anxious and paid the price last night as I watched The Bachlorette and later read.   However, I do not fear pain but I do find myself fearing anxiety.

There is no doubt that anxiety increases my pain levels and this goes for everyone.  People without chronic pain get headaches, back aches, and stomach aches when overly stressed or filled with anxious thoughts and worries.  If you are already living with chronic pain, there is little doubt in me that anxiety, when heightened will lead to increased pain levels. I have been working on managing my anxiety for thirty years and the one good thing I have learned is that a lot of the techniques I use to manage chronic pain also help with my anxiety management: exercise, breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, healthy diet etc.  I cannot believe I am writing this as I never thought I would be able to manage pain without a cure or medication but managing my anxiety is more difficult than managing chronic pain.  Wow, just writing that fact is shocking to me.

Anyone that has anxiety knows how difficult it is to live with this very real invisible illness.  Just like chronic pain or any other disease, one cannot understand the true feelings of anxiety unless on lives with this chronic condition.  I awake most mornings with a huge amount of anxiety and most days I can jump up and just start my routine but there are some days that it takes a ton of will power.  Anxiety, like chronic pain can truly take over one’s mind and then body if we allow it to.  People may say to you: “You worry too much, everything works out.  Just calm down.”  Most of us, myself included know that the things we worry about always work out however it is very difficult at times to talk reason to our minds and souls when they are in a heightened state of anxiety.  Logically, we know how blessed we are and that the past has taught us worrying will never change the outcome but just like a difficult day with chronic pain there are difficult days with anxiety.  I struggle the most with anxiety first thing in the morning and at times as I try and fall asleep.  I noticed lately the more I give in to my anxieties in the morning the easier it is for me to fall asleep because I am so tired from having battles in my mind that I am not only exhausted, but have stressed myself out to the point of having a difficult time with pain.

Where is the happy ending of this battle with anxiety?  Is there an ending?  I do not know.  I only know that if I can learn how to manage chronic pain without medications or finding a cure, I can better myself in more ways than I realize.  Life isn’t about the destination, it is through the journey of ups and downs that we learn and grow.  I find it ironic that having chronic pain because of a bike accident taught me (ten years later) how I can manage anxiety the same way I manage pain.  I also find it crazy that anxiety is more difficult for me to manage now than pain.  Fifteen years ago I would have given in to both chronic pain and fear in the morning and never have gotten out of bed.  Now, at the age of thirty five I feel as if I slept super late because it is my day off and I did not wake up until eight in the morning (thank you daughter!)  Our thoughts become our reality, I do believe this to be true.  However, once we accept it is our anxiety talking and not the rational part of our minds we can at least come to a great starting point in our journey with anxiety.  We are always works in progress and I have learned more from chronic pain than probably anything in my life.  I plan to do the same with anxiety and worrying.  We just never give up and no matter where any of you are with your personal invisible illness, I know from much life experience that you are truly doing the best you can.

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What do YOU WANT

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“Stop going back and forth on your ideas because of fear.  You are confusing the Universe.  Decide what you want and stick with it.  You’ll notice things starting to shift in your favor.”

Unknown

My mind is a confusing mess at times and although I know the two things I want more than anything, fear and over-thinking lead my mind into crazy directions.  Being Jessica, I then over-think if the Universe is getting confused because of my beautiful mess of a mind.  I am not sure why but this morning after I practiced yoga I decided to write a letter to the Universe declaring clearly what and why I want the two things I have wanted for most of my life: children and for my writings about my journey with chronic pain to one day become my career.  I took out a random piece of scrap paper, still in my Zen mode from yoga and just wrote down exactly why I want the two things above. Right before I showered, I put the piece of paper into one of my clothes drawers and let it go.  Now, the Universe cannot get confused by my crazy mind.  Whether there is total truth to that or not does not really matter because I feel better knowing I clearly declared on paper what I want.  Sometimes just getting things down on paper is a huge sigh of relief.  We could also write down what we do not want and rip the hell out of that piece of paper for that would be liberating as well.

I believe our soul always knows what it wants but the outside world and people distort what we truly want.  We may get angry and say something we do not mean or hurt and cry tears declaring what we do not want.  But these are just feeling and as I wrote before feelings are like visitors, they come and they go.  Feelings are not indicative of what we truly want and I believe the Universe listens to our souls and not our mouths.  That puts my mind and heart at ease and I hope it does for you as well.  I do recommend (as crazy as it sounds) writing down exactly what you DO want and why and putting it away: see what happens.  If nothing else you know deep down that you have declared exactly what you want to the Universe or your God so when you get sad, frustrated, or angry the Universe knows what your soul wants and allows you to let your visitors come and go.

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Pushing Pain Away: Inviting it to Stay

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“If you are resisting something, you are feeding it.  Any energy you fight, you are feeding.  If you are pushing something away, you are inviting it to stay.”

Michael Singer

One of my wisest readers Kate emailed me regarding the concept of non-resistance and I want to share with you her final question on this particular email: “What made it sane for you (chronic pain) acceptance or disagreement?”  Do I want a life with chronic pain or any disease for that matter?  No.  I fought this invisible illness for ten plus years and with each fight and disagreement, my pain intensified along with my depression, anger, and eventually I faced a loss of will to live.  It was not until I stopped resisting chronic pain and accepted it as part of my life that I began to live.  I no longer wanted to die.  I wanted to manage pain in a healthy way and at times I do want to fight it but without acceptance I know for a fact I would never have graduated college, have a family, or be the healthiest version of Jessica I can be despite pain.  There are so many things in life that happen to all of us that we do not want but we are unable to change.  We can fight and fight and fight but with each battle we just bring more attention to what we do not want because we refuse to accept it.  However, once we do accept something whether we want it or not a sense of peace and the beginning of healing occur.  So, this is probably the easiest question I have yet to be asked by any reader: I found my life through acceptance: disagreement came close to killing me.

Kate emailed me again regarding her fear of “exaggerating her pain” as those with different diseases seem to manage it better and maybe she in a sense is just being “weak.”  No, you are not exaggerating your invisible illness.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  You have no idea what other people are feeling, how are they are acting, or coping with their particular illness behind closed doors.  What you and many of us are doing is overthinking chronic pain and the ailments that come along with it.  I have been around people from all walks of life with different medical issues and I will tell you right now, some of the strongest people I have ever met have chronic pain and most of their pain was non-visible. If you could turn your body inside out and the pain was visible, you would feel like a damn rock star and get the support and acknowledgement you deserve.  Never doubt your strength, compare your illness with anyone else’s, or feel that you are exaggerating your pain.  All of you can relate to Kate’s questions/fears/concerns/and doubts.  This post is for everyone suffering from an invisible illness.  I applaud Kate for her honesty and strength.  Acceptance is key.  It is the first step to the ‘healing’ process and will change your life.  Beating yourself up for being in pain is counterproductive and you deserve love: love yourself and be proud of yourself.  Saying that you should not be upset because someone has it worse is like saying you should not be happy because someone has it better.  Focus on you and your journey with chronic pain.

I am so proud of all of you that read my writings. I hope this post reaches you and you give yourself a break.  You are a rock star.

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Judging Others With Chronic Pain

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The stigmatism behind chronic pain is shocking at times.  You will find most people with chronic pain have Type A personalities and want to do everything without taking breaks.  You will also find that most people with chronic pain are perfectionists and quite hard on themselves if they do not achieve the level of “success” they desire.  Later, you will find that people with chronic pain are some of the most sensitive and empathetic persons you will ever meet. Do you know what people with chronic pain hate the most?  They hate that they are unable to do the things they love, work full time, and be the person they are inside, buried beneath all of the physical pain they did not ask for.   Nobody asks for chronic pain.  I now manage it naturally and very well ninety five percent of the time but I have “difficult days” aka days where my pain levels are high and I cannot do as much as I would like to and I have come a long way but it still angers me at times and frustrates the hell out of me.  To anyone who comes across my writings please remember this: NO ONE MAKES UP CHRONIC PAIN!  No one has any right to judge another person for how he or she lives his or her life but to judge someone with an invisible illness is quite frankly sad and shows the ignorance surrounding this condition.  People with chronic pain are not lazy, they are the opposite.  I know, I have been on both sides.  Those days where I laid in bed crying because the pain was so intense and I felt as if I was dying from within were some of the worst days of my life.  The sadness and loss I felt at being stuck inside as my friends and family worked and went to school ate me alive.  They were all following the dreams I wanted so desperately and there were times people thought I was just lazy or being a ‘baby.’ Who in their right mind would want to in pain twenty four hours, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year?  I have yet to meet someone with that hope.  Trust me, no one who has no experience with chronic pain does not want to feel what people with this invisible illness feel every day of their lives.  The guilt is already killing them, your judgement is not necessary. I am writing harshly today but it breaks my heart when people write me about the loneliness and judgement they feel from the people they love most.

Yes, I am living proof that one can work, follow their dreams, and live a happy life despite pain but there are days or hours such as this morning where the Universe reminds me just how difficult chronic pain is: its a gift that I sometimes forget.  Anyone who does not believe you or your illness needs to be set aside so you are able to focus on your health and your well being.  Stress, depression, endless crying, and anxiety only increase pain: who knows what battles the person who “judges” you is facing himself or herself?  I believe you and I swear you are not alone.

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Wishing Pain Was VISIBLE

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“Not all wounds gush blood.”

Unknown

I think back to all the times I have been hurt and the wounds were visible.  Obviously, going through brain surgery definitely showed scars/bruises/and a deformation of my body for about a year.  I had long brown hair as I do now and half of it was shaved off.   At the time, being in my young teens I thought this was the worst thing ever.  Catheter ok, feeding tube…sure, broken bones…cool but MY HAIR!!!!  When I fell off of my bike I landed on my right side: my right side of my head hit the stone wall as did the rest of my body.  After they removed the blood from my brain on the right side, the left side of my face blew up like a huge balloon.  The three vivid memories of that day are walking home from my fall (stubborn and not so bright at times) being put in an ambulance going from one hospital to a different one with a better trauma unit, and saying goodbye to my dad as they began cutting my clothes off.   I was in the ICU for quite a bit and talk about flowers, gifts, and cards.  Everyone came to see me and I vaguely remember their visits but I do remember a ton of balloons and flowers and an outpouring of love and affection.  That lasted about six months, up until I was “fine” and my hair was slowly growing back and I was ready to start going to school again.  The only persons left to see my scars were doctors and hairdressers.  I had no idea then that for the next decade I would pray to get those scars visible again: at times I wished I could fall again just so people could see the blood, cuts, breaks, and bruises.  My scars became invisible and slowly I did as well.

Later in life I broke my ankle twice: flowers, cards, balloons.  I had my tonsils out as an adult: flowers, cards, balloons. I had a DNC: flowers, cards, balloons.  I also had chronic pain throughout these injuries people could see  but  as the title of my blog/book (one day) says: No One Gets Flowers For Chronic Pain.  I think most of us have lost someone we love in our lifetime.  The most important person I lost in my thirty-four years here on Earth was my Grandmother, La La.  A day does not go by that I do not think about her or talk to her.  She was loved by many people especially her immediate family and sisters/brothers.  My Aunt Pat moved from Florida into our home for months to take care of her.  I saw a love I had never truly seen between two people: sister love.  I never really knew the deep, intense love they had for one another and there is no way in hell Kayci will be an only child.  My Aunt taught me a lot about love, family, and support.  I have a point, promise.  After La La passed, the funeral planning took place and everyone was here with tears of sadness and joy at the many amazing memories we all shared with our now angel, La La.  A week or month goes by and life goes on.  It is not that people forget the loss, it is just that the people still in this world must keep going.  The flowers, cards, and words of sympathy stop but the pain the people who loved a person he or she lost does not.  That is how it is with chronic pain.  I know many of you wish so much people could see your pain (physical and/or emotional) as brain surgery, ankle surgery etc were far easier to bear than chronic pain but they cannot and although that sucks at times it is something we must come to peace with.

Not everyone is going to believe you.  I’m sorry but I have to be honest.  However, you will find that the people who do believe you and don’t think: “its all in your head” are the people who will be in your life forever.  Chronic pain is getting noticed and I do believe we are moving in the right direction. Chronic pain was not even a term used when I was searching for a cure to my pain.  I did not have the internet to find support and truly was alone as I knew not one person with an invisible illness until  I went to the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehab Center.

People love you and sometimes it is very hard for your loved ones to give you the support and ‘flowers’ you need because they truly do not understand your pain and how could they?  Focus on yourself and know that you do have support from people with chronic pain.  You are always free to email me, I think the people who have emailed me know I write back within a day and continue to make contact.  I do this because there are some things in life you just have to do and for me that is helping people with chronic pain.  When I write ‘have to’ I mean that in a positive way.  I want to, I believe it is my calling, and writing is my passion.  As Abraham Hicks says: “People will love you, people will hate you.  And none of it will have anything to do with you.”

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Beliefs: Thoughts Become Reality

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“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”

-Nelson Mandela

What in your life is holding you back from being happy and at peace with what you have?  My guess for most of you is chronic pain?  However, millions of people are being held back by their negative thoughts who have no illness but just do not believe their dreams and/or desires will come true.  How often in your life time have you heard people say things such as: “I will never find the person of my dreams. Look around, I promise I’ll be single and childless the rest of my life.  Men just suck theses days” or: “Oh right, I’ll be one of the few lucky ones who lands this job.  The odds are so against me that it is not even worth trying. I’ll just end up disappointed” and for many of you: “Happy despite chronic pain?  Crap. There is zero way I will ever have a good life or be happy with this debilitating pain that has now ruined my entire life and each dream I have had.  I’m screwed.  I will never be able to manage chronic pain and be happy at the same time.  Impossible.”

I get it.  I have had all of the above thoughts and most were directly because of chronic pain.  I told myself on an hourly basis my life was over due to chronic pain and the ailments that come with the disease.  I am in a different place and no longer allow chronic pain to control my life but I still get those thoughts of: “never going to happen.”  The past has just taught me that the more I think of the things I want and believe will happen, the happier I am and the things I want come much quicker.  Example: pregnancy.  Hi, have we met?  I clearly want more children and yes one of my biggest fears is/was that Kayci would never have a sibling.  However, before Kayci was born my biggest fear was that I would never have a child.  Clearly, my fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) was a fallacy and now I know I will have another child.  Life is much more peaceful letting go of fear and just knowing that fears are not real and the things you truly want will happen if you focus on what you want instead of what you do not want.  The more you complain or think about what is wrong in your life, the more of what you do not want will come your way.  This is factual, scientific in many ways.  Thoughts become things: what we believe will be our reality, there can be no other way.  You have no idea how often I hear: “You spend half your life trying not to get pregnant and the second half trying.”  and/or “My spouse and I had two children when we were not trying but now have spent over a year trying for our third.  My hopes of having another child are gone.  There is no way it is going to happen.”  When one is trying for anything with fear and doubt in their mind, what he or she is trying for will most likely not happen.  Why do you think most pregnancies are not planned?  Because we are not stressing our bodies and minds out thinking negatively, we are just living for the moment and have no doubt that when the time is right what we want (in this example, a child)  will happen.  Fear controls our lives and the more we think from a place of fear, the more the things we fear will happen.  Change your thoughts, change your life.

So, what are you secretly believing will not happen in your life?  It may have nothing to do with chronic pain.  Whatever it may be you need to turn that thought around and literally begin to write, say, and think the opposite even if in the beginning you truly do not believe what you want will happen.  Over time, with practice your thoughts will change.  Start today.  Whatever you want that you are secretly believing will never happen write down the opposite.  For example, if your thought is: I will never be happy because of my invisible illness write down the opposite.  “I know I will be okay.  I know in time chronic pain will not control my life and I will be happy.”   Keep what you write down with you at all times and when your negative thought arises take that little piece of paper out of your pocket and read it to yourself.

I hope you all have a fun Halloween and are able to find your inner child and let the little things go and start focusing on what you do want instead of fearing what you do not want.

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Caregiver Stress and Chronic Pain, chronic pain

Caregivers for those with an Invisible Illness

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“When someone’s fear touches someone’s pain, it becomes pity.  When your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion.”

Stephen Levine

When someone you love is in pain it is so very difficult to know what to do to help them.  I personally know how the people who love me help me in my journey with chronic pain but I cannot always be certain on how to help a loved one of mine deal with their own pain or struggle if I have not faced them myself.  Nobody ever wants pity.  Ever.  I do not talk about chronic pain although it is always there: coping mechanism that has done wonders for me as I have trained my brain to not think about pain.  However, now that I am writing about my twenty year life with chronic pain word has gotten out: “Jessica Martin has had chronic pain all these years.”  Someone really should have told me about this whole internet thing: talk about word spreading fast!  I’m kidding, I want to reach as many people as I can in order to help as many people with chronic pain as I can.  But, I (and many of you can attest to this) truly get such negative energy when a person says to me: “Oh My God.  I am so sorry. I feel so bad for you.  Tell me about your pain.  That is just so terrible.”   Their heart is in the right place but I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me or look at me differently because I have an invisible illness.   Did ya think I was partying my ass off and crying all those nights for fun?  Yes, I have had chronic pain for over twenty years: ten of them have been pretty awesome though. So what should a loved one of a person with chronic pain say or do to help him or her?

  1. “I have no idea what you must be going through, but I love you and I will do my best to understand and be there for you.”
  2.  “I believe you.”
  3. “You are such a strong person.  I know you can get through this and I will stand by you why you muddle through this.”
  4. “If there is anything I can do, please tell me.  Even if you just want a shoulder to cry on.”
  5. “I am so proud to know you and be a part of your life.”
Those are five things I would have loved to have heard and my dad was the greatest caregiver one could ever meet.  He never once doubted me and was at every doctor’s appointment with me and never gave up on me.  He never showed pity, fear, or gave up.  He showed me love, compassion, and empowered me to make my hardest step in my journey with chronic pain: acceptance and learning how to manage it naturally.  He never pushed anything and if/when he did he backed off.  He forgave me for my mistakes when I was in my darkest hours of chronic pain he had such empathy as if he had chronic pain himself.  He never lost hope and I would not be here today without him.
I have family members right now who are going through a hell I have never faced.  I will be very honest, I do not know how to help certain people.  I want to very badly but sometimes there really is only one thing a person can do to help another who is in pain: Love them and show compassion.  I hate to get all John Lennon Sixties on everyone but honestly sometimes, all you need is love.  Some things cannot be fixed, for me that is chronic pain.  I am on the other side of my disease now and managing it very well but I still need love and words of encouragement such as: “I know you do not talk about your pain, but I am so proud of you.”  We all need love and encourage from our loved ones at times.  Sometimes I want to wear a shirt that says: “I have chronic pain, I am in a great place but I would love some positive reinforcement because some days or moments are quite difficult.  PS: I do not want to talk about pain.”
If you remember nothing from this post remember that nobody wants pity for any pain they are enduring: it makes that pain worse.  They only want love and a sense of empathy.  We all do.
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