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Psychologist specialized on chronic pain

Jun 12, 2015 3:30 PM

Have you seen one? I just wrote about this in a different topic and would like to hear your opinion about it.

I have seen one and he helped me tremendously. It took me a long time until I was ready to see a "shrink". Now I regret that I didn't see him sooner. It's not about you being crazy or your pain just being in your head. It's about having to deal with a very difficult and traumatizing situation: daily pain. And it's about slowly getting your life back. Pain breaks the best of us. Pain changes your life. You stop doing activities which you enjoyed. You cancel the girls night because your pain suddenly gets worse. You can't spend quality time with your family. Pain messes with your life. If you don't get depressed after a couple of months or years you must be Superman or Superwoman. The vicious circle begins... depression leads to more pain. More pain makes the depression worse. You need somebody who is a professional in dealing with such traumatizing circumstances like chronic pain.

There's all those laymen (yes, friends and family) who try to give you advice. Have you tried this, have you tried that? You should try bla bla. If you tried hard enough it would get better. Just stay positive, it will get better... At some point I just couldn't hear all the crap anymore. I had tried so many different things: Stretching, physical therapy, exercise... and you suffer and it seems like its not getting any better. Frustration, pain, frustration, powerlessness, pain, endless frustration!!! That's what I felt. My family could not help me. They tried to support me but they couldn't. They didn't know what I was going through. I don't blame them. You need professional help. My psychologist was able to get me out of there. I learned to manage my pain and started enjoying life step by step, despite the pain. It was a long journey (years). Don't expect a quick fix ;-)

In one of the first few sessions my psychologist told me that my pain is like a companion on my daily journey who's just not going to leave, no matter what I do. You have to learn to live with it. He said that I can try to fight this companion, ignore it, swear at it but it won't help and the companion will never leave. That's not what I wanted to hear, not at all. Over time, I learned to live with that companion. I learned to listen to him but I also learned not to listen to him and sit in the driver's seat myself. That companion speaks a strange language and he comes from a strange culture, well probably he's an alien. It's difficult to understand him and his actions. And they seem random and unfair. But, your stuck with him and you need to live with him. I couldn't have done it without my psychologist. Many thanks to him.

Jun 12, 2015 6:40 PM

SarahSunshine, I've seen one. But he wasn't much help. I'm under a psychiatrist, who I was under during a post partum nervous breakdown. He's not one to speak patients on umpteen meds to sedate you through it. Instead he provides minimally necessary meds for depression and anxiety, and pain if not already on it. But he helps me do exactly what you're did; accept the reality that my chronic illnesses are here to stay, and learn to work through and around it all, or let it defeat me and be lonely. I'm so glad my insurance changed so I can see him instead.🙏🌼

Jun 13, 2015 2:01 AM

Seeing this post has given me much to think about. SaraSunshine, thank you for posting about this subject. I never thought about a psychologist that specializes in pain. It makes a lot of sense that that would be a specialty. I imagine you have to be careful when you are looking for one that they just don't say yes because you are looking for one. Do you have any tips on how you know you are truly getting a specialist in that field and not just a psychologist who says that they are because they feel they can handle that particular problem? I was thinking if you ask if they specialize, the receptionist can just say sure, he is qualified to do that when he may not be a true specialist like you are talking about? Am I making this too complicated. I am just wanting to look into the help you received. This interest me very much. After my accident, it kept me home for a long time. They put some contraptions on me that made me feel claustrophobic. I almost couldn't breath. I had to get Xanax. I got so disconnected from people that I didn't want to leave the house. I leave my house like three times a month. Once to do the shopping I need. The other for a doctors appointment and meds. The other for a haircut. I may have to leave another day for another doctors appointment. But it is so bad that if I don't take my vitamin D supplements, I become severely deficient. Then they have to give me high doses of it. All because I don't see the sun hardly at all. I use to be the life of the party. I would keep people happy and get them together. There was always someone at my house. My wife would get mad at me because a lot of out friends would have serious troubles at various times of the day, and they would call me and want to talk. They would want me to come to there house and help them with their problem. A lot of times it was a single mother who wanted me to help her unruly son. I would offer to spend time with them and talk to them and see what was bothering them. I was like a therapist without credentials. People wanted to talk and I would listen. Coming from abusive home, I had a lot of experience with reading people anD what they were thinking with their body language. But I had an active life. I really miss people. That is why I enjoy this place but I would like to see people eventually. I moved to a new town. I don't hardly know anyone hear. I haven't left my house much to know anyone. If something happened to my family, I would truly be alone in my surroundings. I need the kind of help you are talking about. I would like to leave my house to get back into society someday. I miss it but I am so afraid at the thought of going back into it. It is like a jungle to me and I am not prepared for it. Thanks for your post. Sorry for sharing so much. Just relating how much that type of person can help.

Jun 13, 2015 8:10 AM

Profiler, my pain management doctor's office has a psychologist that specializes in pain right in his office. Not long after, he wasn't there any more but I went to his office when need be. It has helped over the years. Give it a go, if it helps... Bonus!!! 😊

Jun 15, 2015 4:33 PM

profiler, I am glad you shared your story. I think, sharing our problems brings us one step closer to solving them.

You asked how I knew it was a good psychologist specialized on pain patients. My neurologist spoke highly of him and told me that he was specialized on pain patients. Then during the session I felt quite soon that he knows what I am going through. If you are in doubt ask the psychologist how many pain patients he's treating. Mine was treating 50% pain patients and 50% "normal" patients. He said he couldn't handle having pain patients only, because it is a lot of hard work (I get him). He's also a member of a pain society. Maybe you can find a pain society in your area and ask them if they have psychologists among their members.

Before that I've seen a psychiatrist but I never really connected with him. If you don't feel comfortable after a couple of sessions, look for a different one.

Regarding your anxiety to leave the house, I suggest you literally take one step after the other. Set a goal which you think you can achieve (maybe take 5 steps out the house and then go back in). The next day you make it a few more. But don't overdo it. Try to set the goal before you leave the house and not on the way. In my case I kept a little diary where I tracked my goals and achievements. That's very motivating because it shows you your progress over time.

Maybe you can ask a member of your family to accompany you a few steps. Tell them about your anxiety and tell them that you need their help. You helped so many people, now its your time to get help. Actually, my psychologist told me that those people who help other a lot are more likely to get chronic pain. He said those people often times forget about themselves and overdo themselves in helping others. It sounds like you are one of those.

Well, keep in mind that I am not a psychologist and maybe my advice is all wrong. But I hope it helps.
Last but not least, maybe you can start a new discussion about anxiety leaving the house. I assume you are not the only one here having that anxiety.

Kindest regards,

Jul 18, 2015 8:53 PM

Sarah, this is an amazing post! You certainly do create inspiration. I've been seeing a therapist since before my diagnosis, and thankfully she'ss awesome and incorporated everything into my situation. It's all about perspective for me. I'm a firm believer in positive thinking, not that I think it's a cure, but it helps empower you to deal with the pain rather than give up or give in to it. Being aware of your limits and working with them, not against them is key. Positive thinking can help in any stressful situation especially in anything that's chronic.

Jul 19, 2015 1:01 AM

Thank you Sarah and Profiler for your inspiring insight. I can relate to all you have said. I agree with Faerygrl in regards to positive thinking. One step at a time is my new motto. FEELING MOTIVATED.

Jul 19, 2015 7:14 AM

I have a psychologist specializing in Diabetes but not pain. My insurance doesn't cover pain therapists. The pain management clinic is only 4hrs a week on a day I always work. I'll have to get my coping skills from you lovely people.

Jul 20, 2015 1:39 PM

I'm in a program recommended to me by my therapist (depression). It focuses on accepting and living with pain? This is part of the pain clinic. My one stipulation for participating is that there be no drugs. Talking to the pain psychologist was a good experience. I have a workbook calls "Living Beyond Your Pain" which has been very helpful to me and my pain free spouse.

Jul 20, 2015 2:26 PM

Thank you! I'm going to look into that workbook!

Jul 20, 2015 9:47 PM

I hope it can help you Sweetiepie.

Jul 21, 2015 1:02 AM

I have one through the children's hospital, they call it Coping Clinic and it would be after physical therapy. She was somewhat helpful, but I so have trouble trusting psychologists after having several really awful ones. I feel like my physical therapist helped with some of the mental parts, and acknowledged that I really might not get better but I have a chance.

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