Sometimes the effects of pain can be more severe than the injury or illness that caused it. What’s more, many people with chronic pain have to cope with
- Social stigma
- Inadequate treatment or misdiagnosis
For many people, chronic pain impacts quality of life and makes it hard to concentrate, to sleep, or to get stuff done at work and in day-to-day life. Chronic pain can also lead to depression. According to one study, more than four out of five people with chronic pain also felt depressed. So what can you do to help yourself manage when you suffer from chronic pain? Start by asking for help when you need it.
If you need help, talk to your doctor. If you feel depressed, or like it’s too much to bear, tell your doctor or talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you find yourself thinking about suicide, talk to a doctor right away. If your doctor isn’t available, visit the emergency room or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family in your day-to-day life. Overextending yourself can lead to stress and trigger pain flare-ups. So don’t be afraid to call on friends or family for help. Sometimes you may need to delegate a task or put it off until later, and that’s OK.
Think of your energy as a limited resource, and budget what you have. Sometimes people compare this to pennies, or spoons. Assess what you have to do today, and if it takes more “spoons” than you think you have, figure out what you can skip or give someone else to do. And always try to keep one spoon in reserve, to help you cope with things you didn’t expect.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you just need someone to talk to.
Above all, remember to accept your limits and focus on the positive. Don’t dwell on the things you can’t do, but remember the things you can, and find ways to get the most out of life. You can’t always control your pain, but you can control your life and your happiness.