• Carrie

Chronic Pain and Mental Health

I know many people who deal with chronic pain, myself included, and it is no walk in the park. There is a crazy voice in your head telling you that you can do anything you put your mind to...ya know, until your body makes that impossible. Wanting to do something, having the mentality to do something, the will power, and not having a body that can accommodate those thoughts is the most frustrating thing imaginable. We live in a society that convinces us that if we have the will to work hard enough that we can achieve anything. Unfortunately, that's just not the reality for some people who have a chronic and disabling condition. Chronic pain can hold you down like a heavy weight strapped to your back. It can make you feel hopeless. It can drain every ounce of energy you have because you're fighting the pain constantly just to do every day things. Most importantly though, it can take a huge hit on your mental health.

I have endometriosis. If you don't know what that is, just know that it is extremely painful, and involves the lining of the uterus growing internally where it is not supposed to. There can be minimal tissue and extreme pain in the uterus/lower abdomen. Sometimes it can get so bad that it radiates to your lower back and even down your legs. Currently, it is under control, but sometimes I have break through pain that reminds me that it will never really go away. I've had two surgeries to ease the pain and am currently on Orilissa for pain control. Endometriosis runs in my family, as does arthritis and Hashimoto's disease which is another problem I have. Before being diagnosed with endometriosis I dealt with the pain from PCOS. Like endometriosis, PCOS can be very painful. This is where cysts grow abundantly all over your ovaries. Mine got to the point where they were growing four times bigger than my ovary which they were attached to. I was living with the fear that if one of these cysts could have destroyed one or both of my ovaries.

Whenever my endometriosis was running rampant with no sign of actual relief in sight, it was exhausting. I was in constant pain. It was either a dull pain or an extreme, sharp pain. I was on heavy pain medications that made every day life a swirl of confusion. It was terrible. After awhile my mental health started to break down. I was already dealing with bipolar depression, but this was a different type of tired. I really was living in a haze. All of my mental energy was sucked up by the pain my body felt. I tried so hard to just keep going, telling myself mind over matter, and to not give up. Before I got proper treatment though, I was at an all time low. I was so exhausted that it was hard to feel like an actual human being. I was numb and I flat out gave up.

Luckily I have a wonderful doctor/surgeon who helped me. He validated my mental state and told me that that was normal living with chronic pain. It was the first time that someone acknowledged that my mental state was a normal reaction to the pain I felt. It was a weight off of me and I could finally let out a sigh of relief. It was like I had been running and running and somebody finally told me I could stop and that feeling tired was ok. But the mental strain I felt during those times of pain and frustration will never leave my mind. So if you're struggling with chronic pain, know that your exhaustion is justified. Yes, there is a certain amount of will power to get through the day...but pushing yourself to the point of a mental breakdown is not ok. Take a break...even if the pain will not stop even if you are resting, like mine was, try your very hardest to relax and take care of yourself. Remember to try and relax. Pain intensifies when we are upset and tense. And keep in mind that chronic pain will affect your mental state. Reach out to a therapist when you start to feel yourself sinking. Don't give up.

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