After reading about Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide in 2005, I started wondering how many people who suffer from chronic pain eventually decide to end their life. I have to admit my views on that subject matter scare me, but nonetheless I revisit them quite often. For some people, acknowledging pain is a sign of weakness and talking about pain may be perceived by some as participating in pity party or as a grand stand ploy to elicit sympathy from people. In reality, talking about it helps the chronic pain sufferer stay connected to other people and the world around them, but sometimes there is a very fine line between staying connected and dwelling on the pain which amplifies it tenfold. I tend to think this is why so many chronic pain sufferers gravitate towards becoming hermits.
Anyone suffering from chronic physical pain goes through arduous periods of adjustment as their pain becomes more intense at times. We each have our own ways of coping and at times, those coping mechanisms may be pushed past their limits. What many people fail to understand is that pain and the ailments/conditions that cause the pain have a very debilitating effect on both the mind and body. The chronic pain sufferer is forced into accepting unwanted limitations and what's often thought of as restrictions brought on by the normal aging process are actually things expedited and amplified by chronic pain.
10 important things I've learned about chronic pain in the past 10 years:
1. Chronic pain is unlike acute pain which comes on suddenly as a warning signal that something has gone wrong inside the body and goes away when the cause is treated.
2. Chronic pain is caused by long-term conditions like arthritis or progressive illnesses like cancer.
3. Chronic pain can last for months or it may last an entire lifetime.
4. Chronic pain takes a psychological as well as a physical toll on a person. It can lead to anxiety, anger and insomnia.
5. Chronic pain sufferers may find it difficult or impossible to work and hard to do the things they once enjoyed.
6. Chronic pain can change a person’s relationships with family and friends and alter their own self-image and diminish their self-worth.
7. A person experiencing chronic pain becomes easily depressed, withdrawn, and exhausted.
8. No diagnostic tests can convey to your doctor what you are feeling. Even when pain is intense, many people struggle to the find words to accurately describe it.
9. Chronic pain is treatable, but it never completely goes away.
10.Chronic pain changes every aspect of a person's life.