Everything Hurts

mental health

Chronic Pain Confessions

chronic pain, blog, mental health, pain, wellness, personalAmanda Vinci3 Comments
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It's time to set the record straight about my chronic pain. Like Usher once said — these are my confessionsssss. And you might find that some of them are yours too.

I feel pain every day.

Most of the time I'm so used to the pain it doesn't really effect me.

If I have more than 2 days of terrible flare up pain, I start to become depressed.

My pain causes depression and depression causes more pain.

When I don't feel good and people ask what could have caused it, I get mad.

I have a love hate relationship with my pain. Sometimes I'm happy I have it. It's made me stronger in other facets of my life.

I really enjoy going to the doctor. I feel like I'm accomplishing something each time I go.

I hate exercising "for fun". Extraneous physical movement is never fun.

When people innocently share what a good workout they've had, I feel resentful.

I push myself just to prove that I can be like everyone else.

I sometimes use my pain as an excuse to get out of things I don't want to do, even if I can do them.

Lots of times I do things I know will cause me to be in pain, just to show that my condition won't stop me.

I loved getting every surgery I've had.

My scars make me happy, because they make my pain visible. Giving it credibility that it is real.

Getting out of bed is the most difficult part of my day. I have a hard time functioning before 10am.

My pain changes constantly and is hard to predict or keep track of.

My ferret, Sneaky Weasel, is the best form of therapy for me.

I sometimes feel jealous of people with conditions that are more visible.

I find too much comfort in my favorite foods. 

Most foods completely disgust me.

Sometimes wearing clothing hurts.

Listening to my body is the best way to treat myself.

I've learned to love myself, chronic illness and all.

I'm very proud of my battle with pain, and love sharing my story with others.

A story of our pain, then and now

mental health, pain, self help, books, story, personalAmanda VinciComment

The other day, my friend asked "can you imagine having chronic pain in the 1800's?" I immediately recalled a short story I read in college — The Yellow Wallpaper.

"You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?" The narrator of the story is at a loss for how to get her doctor husband and brother to see her invisible illness. They tell her that the very worst thing to do is to think about her condition, that doing so will only make her sicker. Boy, if I haven't heard that before.

The woman and her husband rent a mansion for the summer, and she's immediately uneasy with the decision. Everyone around her tells her it'll be good for her, she'll be able to get fresh air and exercise, and the change of environment will help with her poor mental state. Sound familiar? I thought so.

This story was published in 1892. When I read it in 2009 I felt as if I was reading a memoir of myself. Here was this woman, a woman trapped in a time period that felt so long ago — and she was experiencing the same treatment of her illness as I had received. She feels guilty for not getting better, and for not fully appreciating the help others have given her. She struggles with the treatment plan put in place for her. She is ordered to not work, get plenty of exercise and take pills at every hour of the day. She also struggles to define what she calls her "nervous condition."

If you haven't read The Yellow Wallpaper, I strongly recommend it. It is relatable to all of us suffering with an invisible illness, both mental and physical. It perfectly captures in a very personal way just how women with unseen pain were regarded not too long ago. Most women were passed off as "hysterical" when they complained of their pain. Unfortunately most of us have experienced modern day treatment reminiscent of this throughout our own medical journey.

I remember sitting in class as each student read a paragraph out loud. When we had an open discussion about what we read I really wanted to share my story, and how easily I could relate to this woman — but I stayed quiet. I was embarrassed that like the main character, I would be thought of by my peers as crazy or self obsessed. This only made me more like the lady trapped in The Yellow Wallpaper.

This story is a perfect depiction of what can happen to a person when their condition is ignored and their pain is not believed. Although it is not a story of triumph, it is a story that must be heard. Read it here, and let me know how it made you feel.

 
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I get by with a little help from my furry friend

chronic pain, pain, self help, wellness, mental healthAmanda VinciComment
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One of the greatest love stories ever told? It is about the love between a spoonie and their animal companion. Specifically for me, it is between myself and a ferret named Sneaky Weasel. Yes, his name is Sneaky Weasel — Sneaks for short. As many can attest, animal affection is so beneficial when fighting a chronic illness. Mine just so happens to comes in the form of a fluffy, big-butted weasel, with a passion for toy donuts.

Baby wearing? Weasel wearing. Sneaks loves to be held close, and his cuddles are just what the doctor ordered my constant pain is getting me down.

Baby wearing? Weasel wearing. Sneaks loves to be held close, and his cuddles are just what the doctor ordered my constant pain is getting me down.

Four years ago, my boyfriend and I became the proud parents of this little ferret. We welcomed him into our home, and quickly into our hearts (and everything else he could squeeze through). He began to change the way we thought, felt, and interacted with each other. Importantly, he changed how I was able to handle the highs and lows of living with constant pain. 

Waking up in pain isn't quite the same when I've got these guys by my side.

Waking up in pain isn't quite the same when I've got these guys by my side.

It is no secret that those of us who suffer with any long term illness will also experience depression and anxiety. It's so easy to slip into these mental states when thinking about our pain, about the uncertainty of our health and the barriers it has created in our lives. My darkest moments are when I begin to focus on the incurability of what I have, how I may always feel this way, no end in sight. One night last year, I cried for hours in my dark bedroom thinking about this. I was inconsolable. My boyfriend, genius that he is, fetched Sneaks from his sleeping place and placed him on my chest. Sneaks stood perfectly still (uncharacteristic of ferrets). He let me hold him until I calmed down, licking the tears from my face.

I always feel better when Sneaks is nearby, but that night I knew he had become an essential part of my well being. I swear that since then something has changed between us. He senses when I'm having a flare, or am hitting a rough patch emotionally. When I lie in bed, groaning in pain, he hops right on up and gets all up in my face, as if to say "you okay ma?"

Having to take care of Sneaks — clean his litter box, give him fresh food and water, make sure he gets plenty of play time — motivates me to take care of myself. Getting out of bed each morning is so tough, but with cheerful Sneaks looking on, waiting for me to let him out of his habitat, I have extra motivation to start my day.

A sweet celebration. We went all out for the little man's 4th birthday, complete with real gourmet donuts for the humans and tons of toy donuts for Weasel.

A sweet celebration. We went all out for the little man's 4th birthday, complete with real gourmet donuts for the humans and tons of toy donuts for Weasel.

I've had a connection to animals ever since I was a little girl. Being an only child until the age of thirteen meant that I had a lot of nonhuman siblings. From Yorkshire Terriers to a New York Red Rooster to a terrarium of snails, I swore I could talk to the animals, and heard them speak back to me. No matter how sick or alone I was feeling, I always knew I had the companionship of my pets.

My love for all animals has only grown as I've gotten older. Now, more than ever, I know it is essential to my health both mentally and physically to coexist with other creatures. I have become a vegetarian for many reasons, the largest being out of respect for animals. I am so grateful for how they help me to heal a little more each day.