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Barbara's story #2: Attitude - One important factor when dealing with chronic pain

Aug 14, 2014 8:18 AM

Barbara, a fellow CatchMyPain user, has shared her thoughts and insights in another great article. She discusses the importance of attitude when dealing with chronic pain. What is your opinion about it?

Pain can bring your life to a halt or it can bring the end to dreams, if you let it. Pain that is the result of an obvious happening, such as an accident can sometimes be easier to deal with. Pain that sneaks up on you over time, because of illness like diabetes, or a treatment for illness such as chemotherapy, hits hard. Then there is the pain that hits for no known medical reason.

According to the Australian Pain Management Association: “The greatest challenge of chronic pain may not be the intensity, not the nature of the pain, but the fact that the pain persists and that long term relief is a hope but not an expectation.” In their article, they state that it is your attitude towards your pain that will determine how well you are able to deal with it. If you have a strong proactive attitude you will keep moving forward. You will also be able to deal better with the attitude of those around you.

There is no single method that can be used by all. How you react to your pain is totally individual as it is your pain and yours alone. It is up to you to discover a way to build within yourself a positive attitude. This does not mean that your pain will disappear, or that you will go through life without those terrible down days. What it means is that you will find a way that works for you.

First you must accept it and go from there. Maybe down the road a miracle drug will come on the market or a new pain relieving treatment will be discovered, but you cannot wait till then. Use the CatchMyPain diary to become aware of what helps and what makes things worse. Listen to your body. You will come to understand what it is trying to tell you and gradually you will find your tool or tools that help whether they be physical actions or mental.

Most importantly you must keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward with life. Come to know what brings you joy, what makes you feel good about yourself. On that black day, seek out that good thought or experience and chase the black away.

Barbara Zarrella, Florida, USA

Do you manage to keep a positive attitude? When is it especially difficult? What helps you and what would you recommend others to try?

Aug 15, 2014 12:04 AM

Keeping things in perspective, framing things as they are, in the moment, is an approach I employ: I may not be able to do any of the things I could two years ago, but, for today, right now? Being able to walk, and stand, even if it's only for an hour, that's great for me, right now. Tomorrow might be better, might be worse, but now, that is what I can deal with. At the same time, when I worry about how good things were before, and how things will not be like they used to be, it brings me down.
When I'm having a bad day, letting myself be able have a bad day is something that makes things a bit better, in the moment.
I've also found breathing exercises to be somewhat useful as a mood lifter, and a stress reducer.

Aug 15, 2014 6:36 AM

You are right on. No way can I do what I did before. Beratting myself about this is a waste of energy. When a good day comes, it is easy to just want to enjoy it...that is fine, but I have to also remind myself to use some of it to catch up with what needs to be done.

Deep breathing, stretching (as I am able) are great for me. Wish I had a pool for exercise, but since I don't, I need to find substitutes. Walking I still can do in limitation. it is not aerobic, but it is still better than nothing. Realizing this is important...I am not training for a marathon, but to keep myself mobile...I walk. My neighborhood layout is one that allows me to shorten my walk easily if I need to.

Yes...it is our attitude that counts. Live in the present, be gentle with yourself...and firm at times when needed. This is so easy to say...not always easy to carry out, but when I apply it as ilstaura does, it pays off.

Aug 15, 2014 6:23 PM

I do feel hopeless. What helps to change that is distraction. I look for ways to change circumstances so that I can do what I love. I can't go bird watching so I have bird groups on Facebook. I can't weave or knit so I have crochet hooks with comfy grips and am teaching myself to crochet. I talk on the phone. I watch lots of free movies and science shows on TV. I read books on Knidle and love audiobooks because I don't have to hold the book or e-reader. I try to laugh from my belly every day.

Aug 19, 2014 8:57 AM

I have had chronic pain (Pudendal Neuralgia) for almost 10 years. in the beginning, doctors didn't know what was wrong with me and some told me that it was all in my head. This is frustrating (and usually comes from lazy doctors who don't care enough to truly investigate) because I realized that my pain was made worse by the fact that I was constantly trying to PROVE my pain to my doctors. when you go around all day saying "I'm in REAL pain! I promise it is NOT in my head! Help me I'm hurting!!" then my brain actually felt more pain! The moment I was diagnosed, I felt a weight lift off of me. I finally had a name for my condition and I didn't have to scream from the rooftops anymore that I was in pain. Now, instead of telling myself and others how much pain I'm in, I point them to Google if they want to know more or understand my condition, so that I can stop putting it out in the universe that I am in pain. I try to tell myself that I feel pretty good, that I am healing (whether I actually feel that way or not) and I will sometimes try comparing the current pain I am feeling to a time when I was in the worst pain of my life. that way I have some perspective. so basically what I am trying to say is that as soon as I stopped trying to convince everyone that I was truly in pain, my pain DID seem to get a bit better. My pain is not in my mind, but I CAN use my mind to distract myself from it and tell myself that it is or will get better. Positivity goes a lot further then I would've ever thought possible. hope this helps in some small way!

Aug 31, 2014 4:21 PM

I agree with what you are saying and there is something else which may help. I discovered a fantastic musician with his orchestra Andre Rieu and listening to his fabulous music helps me to deal with the pain. Check it out on the Internet or YouTube you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sep 25, 2014 10:55 PM

I've lived with migraines and ibs for as long as I can remember. I've had ibs since age 6 and diagnosed with migraines since age 12. At age 30 I developed osteoporosis and some slip and falls hurt my back. I've tried to keep on with my life and reminding myself that other people have it worse, but After a car accident where I was the passenger, the pain won't go away. I live with it every day. When is not a disabling migraine, is ibs, or neck pain, or lower back or hip pain. When it gets bad is when it's more than one at once. I can't mix meds because it could literally kill me, do I have to endure. But you know what? I am alive! I get to see my kids, my grandkids and feel their love. I get to help friends and feel useful. I get to use my body amen when it hurts. I breathe, smell, see, touch, and hear; so I'm grateful for that. I do get depressed and like so many others I read self help and I try to see the beauty on everything. Not because I am perfect, but because I can't give up. I could've died but I'm here and there is a reason for that. I like to think we are still needed, we still have a purpose. So yes! Keep putting one foot in front of the other, don't give up hope, eat healthy, exercise when possible, go for a walk. Whatever you do keep moving because if you don't the pain is greater, and it will consume you. Good bless.

Sep 29, 2015 7:49 AM

Quantum physics and positive thinking, Wayne Dyer , and the like.
I was able to disconnect from my body, problem is I am with of numb to what's happening because I force myself to be positive.

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