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Surviving with Chronic Pain

What many people who do not suffer from chronic pain have trouble understanding is that sometimes, it can be harder to let your friends and family members know about the pain and suffering you are experiencing than to keep quiet about it. For someone who suffers from chronic pain, it’s important to have an understanding of how to manage your relationships with regard to your pain.

It is common for close friends and family members, upon learning about the pain that you are enduring, to:
Desire to make it better
Wish they didn’t carry the burden of knowing about your pain
Wonder why you can’t just get over it

Although the first of these three common reactions comes from a place of compassion, it can nevertheless be equally difficult to deal with as the other two. The truth is that you nor your family members can make your pain better. No one endures your pain but yourself. And the bottom line is that no one but you can know how it truly feels to be experiencing the pain that you are suffering through.

In cases such as the above, it’s important that you are clear with your family members about how they can best offer you support. Let them know if, for example, when you are experiencing a bout of sudden and intense pain, you’d prefer that rather than fawning over you, they let you experience the pain quietly and personally. You might feel as though you’re pushing a family member away by asking them not to fuss, but the truth is that if that’s what will help you in the long term, you will both be grateful that you made the declaration.

In learning to cope with the way that your family members regard your suffering, it’s important for you to practice compassion. Although you are the one experiencing pain, do try to understand what your family member is going through in his or her own experience. Some individuals do not handle being around pain or illness well. It can make them feel depressed, or out of control. Seeing pain and suffering in another person - especially one whom you care deeply about - can make you feel the reality of potentially losing this person and all that you depend on them for emotionally. Even if your pain is not life-threatening, on an emotional level, that’s the territory that seeing pain triggers for some people.

In instances where someone has trouble being around pain and suffering, he or she may start to pull away from you. This is likely subconscious on their part. Although it will be difficult for you, try not to take this personally, and try to continue to reach out to that person as much as you can. Taking on the responsibility of reassuring your friends and family that you’re still the same old you might seem like too much to ask, but sometimes it is necessary.

Ultimately, finding a way to communicate with your friends and family about what you’re going through is one of the more difficult tasks that a sufferer of pain faces. However, your friends and family are what make up your world, and learning how to cope with their difficulties with your suffering is important to both of you.

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