Pain Flares and Fears
I need to start off by assuring you that I'm by no means chronically, hopelessly hope-filled in life. I don't believe there's any help to be found in simply shrugging off our realities. There's no beautiful way to dress up a hard truth, and it's important for us to take in those moments of raw sobriety and acknowledge the facts that are staring us down. Some days require you to draw on all your inner strength just to muddle through, and I've come to know them all too well. The pain experience is by no means limited to the physical, and that tangible pain can't be pried away from our emotions, no matter how hard we try. Whether we're able to pick up on it or not, our thoughts and feelings are a huge influencer of our physical pain and have a powerful ability to both settle our nervous system and open the floodgates for a flare.
"What really hurts is not so much suffering itself as the fear of suffering. If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow. Fear of suffering, on the other hand, hardens us in self-protective, defensive attitudes, and often leads us to make irrational choices with disastrous consequences." Jacques Phillipe
Being immobilised by relentless pain, unsurprisingly, ups the volume on those anxiety-riddled voices in our heads. Sitting with severe pain that won't budge is by no means an easy task, and on the days where so much as my head leaving the pillow just isn't an option, when agony is through the roof, and helpful distractions are sparse, it's hard not to get caught up in my thoughts. My mind instantly, instinctively and often frantically, turns to what I can do to make it stop. Of course, our pain feeds our fears, but then our fears start feeding into our physical pain, and it becomes one vicious cycle.
I'm only human and absolutely have my moments where my thoughts get away from me, but after a little over eight years, I've come to know that settling my mind is half my battle. Aside from calling in the heavy artillery, which is unavoidable at times, giving my headspace a gentle nudge into lighter places is by far my best chance at kicking those severe set-backs to the curb. Preventing the anxiety from becoming as chronic as the physical symptoms starts with being kind and giving yourself a little grace to realise that there's not a whole lot more you can do beyond riding the flare. It's about starting small, slipping the tiniest of things into the daily grind to help boost your hope-quota and sit with the unease for a while, be that your nearest and dearest, your pain team (who, let’s face it, I may as well class as some of my nearest and dearest after all this time), a good book, a movie, a hot bath, or a chill-the-hell-out oil blend. It's about realising that sitting with discomfort rather than actively fighting against it doesn't mean you're rolling over and taking it. Because when we strip that power away from the physical pain, we start to de-awfulise the whole experience and begin the process of removing part of the fear from our flare-ups, which can only work to our advantage physically.