How I've learnt to live with chronic pain

Six years ago I woke up every day with a smile on my face. Six years ago I would spring out of bed. Six years ago I could walk, run, cycle and swim happily. Six years ago I could go out with my friends for dinner and have a beautiful time. But right now, six years later, my life is very different.

I live with chronic pain. I had a spinal fusion that went wrong and every day I am in agony. I’ve spent the last six years investigating and trialling different types of pain relief. For so long I woke up each day wishing it would be the day I find something to put me out of my misery, but it never was.

Eventually I became fed up. I gave up looking for the solution and with that I gave up my will to live a full, happy and vibrant life. I was withdrawn, I stopped seeing my friends and family and blamed it on my pain. I stopped eating properly and because I couldn’t exercise I began to put on weight. My life had turned into a spiral of misery.

Until one day while on the phone to a friend, I complained that she never wanted to catch up or talk anymore. After two seconds of silence she very slowly said, “I have always considered you a best friend and I’m saying this because I think it needs to be said. Why would I want to spend time trying to help you improve your life, when you don’t even want it to improve?”

I hadn’t thought of things like that. The fact that I had given up made me a miserable person to be around. I didn’t experience delight at other people’s successes, instead I became narky and negative. I didn’t engage in meaningful discussion because I chose to dwell on the miserable parts of my life. I didn’t go out because I had deemed it too much effort and pain.

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I had done this to myself. But that phone call, that single sentence changed my life. I realised that I hated who I had become. I had allowed myself to let go of my friends and happiness and that was the kind of person I had never wanted to be.

Two years later and I’ve learnt that the only way to live with chronic pain, is to find chronic happiness. For every bit of pain and unhappiness I experience, I have to find something bigger and better – I have to find something happier.

I took a step back from my life and realised that it isn’t that bad by counting my blessings. I could still drive – a blessing. I could change my diet – a blessing. I could do small amounts of low impact exercise twice a week – a blessing. I could still go out and enjoy the company of others – a blessing. I had beautiful friends and family who were there if I needed them – a blessing. I could do numerous activities from my own home – a blessing. I had a life that was so much better than so many other people’s.

I was taught the hard way that the only way to live with chronic pain is to find chronic happiness and replace the bad with good. I know that I’m blessed because it isn’t as debilitating as other people’s pain, but I hope that everyone can find a piece of happiness after reading it.

Do you suffer from chronic pain? How do you manage it? Share your thoughts in the comments below…