Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts 6 months or longer. Given the prolonged duration of chronic pain, it isn't hard to see why one of the most common symptoms to follow is depression.
As our bodies succumb to more and more pain we find ourselves doing less and less physical activity, changing our routines, and whatever else we can to avoid more pain. People who used to live a life of constant motion find themselves leading lives of a much more sedentary nature. Weight gain follows. Depression finds its way in and makes itself a permanent, unwanted house-guest.
Thankfully, this isn't the case for everyone with chronic pain, however it is extremely common. So, how do we combat this issue?
Change your vocabulary.
One of the most common things you hear from people with chronic pain is that they can't do the activities they love. They can't have fun. They can't do chores around the house. They simply can't exist without pain.
While many of these statements are seated in truth, the common denominator is the very simple word: "can't."
"Can't" is a negating term that leaves us feeling challenged and often times down-right defeated. Most people being told that they "can't" do something makes them try harder to do it; however when they themselves are the ones saying they "can't" they feel as if they've lost value. This is one of the biggest doorways for depression to set in: constantly admitting that we can't do something because of pain.
Change your vocabulary.Instead of saying that you "can't" do something, say that it "isn't worth the energy needed" or that it "isn't worth the pain I'll experience because of it." When you look at tasks and change the vocabulary from "can" and "can't" to being a matter of being worth your time and energy, you regain validation and self-value. You start putting yourself ahead of the task, rather than giving the task power over you.
Think about it this way: except for in cases where there are actual physical limitations preventing someone from doing something, how often do we say we can't do something? We can't mow the lawn because it is raining. We can't go to work because we are sick. We can't go play at the dungeon because we hurt too much.
In each of those cases there is a judgement call made determining that it isn't worth doing something because of specific reasons. Physically can the lawn be mowed during the rain? Of course! We simply choose not to so we don't end up wet. Can we go to work while we're sick? Sure, however the boss and co-workers may not appreciate us spreading our germs. Could we probably do some kind of play at the dungeon? Probably, however it isn't worth the pain it would cause to do so.
When we change the vocabulary, we take the power out of the thing in our way, and put ourselves first. We are worth more than whatever may cause us more pain.
You have worth! You are valuable!This is one of the biggest things heard from chronic pain sufferers, "I am less than who I used to be because of my pain," or "my pain prevents me from being who I was." You aren't less of a person because you have chronic pain; you have the ability to be the person you want to be, regardless of pain. Remember that "who" you are is not synonymous with the condition you have.
Who you are is a beautiful human being. You are not your condition. You are not your pain.So, the next time you're feeling down, or feeling like you "can't" do something, remember that it isn't about whether you can or cannot do something, it is about whether it is worth your time and energy to do whatever that something may be.
If you can change this little bit of vocabulary, I'm confident that it can help you as much as it has helped me with staying positive, in spite of the pain. If you have a friend who needs help, remind them of this small change; help each other make the change. Together we can live better.
You are beautiful.You are loved.
Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.