CRPS/RSD and Chronic Pain: Should We Stop Living Because It Hurts?

We should not stop living because it hurts! I’ve heard so many times if so and so has Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Chronic Pain in general if they go out for the evening, wear a certain type of clothing, shoes, accessories, move their bodies they can’t possibly hurt that bad. Wrong! It means they are not letting the pain and disability rule their lives. They want to live, laugh, enjoy a moment, make new memories, perhaps experience some of the old.

Too often we become trapped in the cycle of isolating ourselves. Maybe even feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s okay to feel that way from time to time it’s not okay to let the illness take over our lives and that which we love. Family, children, goals, dreams and wishes for ourselves.

If you see someone doing something you wouldn’t do or your body isn’t capable of doing please don’t judge them. Maybe all it means is that they are pushing past the pain for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days. Granted there are people in the world that like to be sick, they crave attention and pity, but not all Chronic Pain Survivors have this mentality. It is not fair to group them into one category. One size does not fit all and it never will.

Some of us use medication to try to survive, other’s have gone off of all medication and use alternative strategies for coping and managing pain, other’s use a combination of both as I do. Just because someone can survive without medication doesn’t mean they feel better than you do it only means they have learned to manage their pain a different way.

If you love to dance as I did, dance! I do! I may last 20 seconds, I might make it through a half of a song, I already know my body is going to pay for it, so why should I hold back because I might end up down for a week after? I shouldn’t and you shouldn’t either! If you love to garden, do it! Pace your activities so you can enjoy your time. If after a half hour you can’t do anymore, don’t. There is a fine line between doing too little and doing too much! Learn you and what you are able to achieve. It doesn’t matter that the next person only lasted 5 minutes or another person lasted an hour. You are you!

Make daily goals. Lists can be helpful. I often have 5 things on my list, my goal is to be able to mark off 3 of them. If I can mark off all 5 it’s just a plus for me and if I only make it to 2 I’ve learned to let myself know it’s okay. Don’t put yourself down for not completing a task just move the one you missed to the top of the list and start again.

I tell myself “I will” instead of “I’ll try” it’s just something I’ve found quite useful after completing my Functional Restoration Program back in 2009. The word “Try” sets me up for possible failure from the moment I say it to myself. “I will” motivates me! There is no pass or fail here. We can or we can’t. We will or we won’t. We are not only individuals but individuals in our own pain,  depression and mindset also.

Many of us deal with depression and/or anxiety secondary to our chronic pain. Close your eyes, relax and go to your happy place. Using imagery can be helpful. Don’t forget to laugh and laugh with others. Laughter produces endorphin’s and endorphin’s decrease physical pain.

Physical pain and depression can be a vicious cycle in itself. Depression causes pain to increase and the pain causes the depression to worsen. Living, smiling, loving, practicing appreciation and gratitude goes a long way in helping us overcome and survive the diagnosis’ we’ve been handed.

While there are times I suffer, I know we all do, I do not consider myself a sufferer, but instead a survivor. I am surviving this! I am alive! It’s been said that pain is that one reminder that we truly exist and for me I believe it. I am reminded every moment of the day that I am living, I am alive.

Be good to yourselves!

Don’t stop living because it hurts, survive the pain and go on.

~Twinkle VanFleet