Chronic pain is crippling and, often, it costs more than just well-being. Those who know, well we know. Those who don’t, well, it’s hard to explain and live with for those that are afflicted, but it’s extra hard to wrap your head around if you have no idea what it’s actually like. Many sufferers also find that friends start to turn away. This can be yet another blow at an already difficult time, and it’s entirely understandable if you’re hurt by the fact that no one’s providing the care you deserve or at least the understanding.
Pain Comes From Pain
Periods of severe pain can certainly separate the wheat from the chaff where your relationships are concerned. If you’re losing everyone you once held dear, though, you may want to take a step back before pointing the finger.
In reality, you know how hard chronic pain can be to cope with, and that difficulty doesn’t stop with you. This is tough for your friends, too, and their distance may be more to do with the way you’re approaching things than your pain itself. Before you cast aside good friendships, consider whether they’re only withdrawing because you’re making the following mistakes.
You always cancel last minute with no explanation
Last-minute cancellations are an inevitable part of chronic pain. For me, that also includes a whole bucket full of anxiety. I always “want” to cancel plan, but I’m usually very happy when I follow through with them. My anxiety tells me I could feel horrible at any moment and it will ruin everyone else’s fun. Reality is more often than not, I manage okay. I know my limitations and I actually enjoy it when I follow through on plans. It’s getting out the door that is the challenge.
Like I said, You can’t tell how you’ll be feeling in advance, and your friends will understand that. What they might not understand is a complete lack of explanation. Cancellations set their day back as well, remember, and if you’re a no-show after they’ve waited for an hour, some anger is inevitable irrelevant of your reasons. To make sure this doesn’t cost you friendships, do whatever you can to give warning and at least some explanation. A simple ‘I don’t feel up to it today’ will suffice even as little as an hour before your meeting. But, a mumbled apology after the event probably won’t.
You refuse to help yourself
Chronic pain and treatments are complicated and often ineffective. Still, there are studies to suggest that things like healthy eating and cutting back on alcohol can reduce flare-ups. Turning to treatments from a chronic pain management center could also help. But, if you’re doing none of these despite friendly urging, you’re asking for trouble. Instead, do whatever you can to lessen your symptoms. Eat right, and focus your attention on at least getting your pain under control with natural methods, as your friends suggest!
You make no effort to understand how other people are feeling
I get it. Avoid, deflect, ignore….that’s my favorite strategy when things are tough. It’s also the worst possible choice – trust me. I battle this daily. As long as I keep my head under the covers I can’t see anyone and nobody sees me right? Chronic pain can be all-encompassing to the degree that it’s all you can think about, but friendship is a two-way street. If you fail to consider how your actions impact others, or even just what’s going on in your friend’s lives, then don’t be surprised if they start meeting up without you. To ensure that doesn’t happen, make the effort to listen once in a while, and try to understand that, while not the same extent as yours, their concerns and struggles are relevant, too.
Chronic pain is awful, and any good friend should understand that. Still, if you keep rocking the boat, you won’t have good friends left by the end of this journey. As such, taking care of these mistakes now is crucial, no matter how much you’re suffering! And I get it; easier said than done. It’s a daily battle between self-care and self-sabotage, but there can be a happy medium.
Do you have any chronic pain care tips or tricks that have worked for your or someone close to you? Please let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!