From Isolated Victim to Community Member
At first, the fact that strangers and loved ones alike didn’t understand my plight made me feel completely isolated. I felt stranded as an outsider who couldn’t take the stairs without straining. I felt like a failure who couldn’t jump out of bed and rush around the house when I forgot to set my alarm before work.
Then I found out there’s an entire community of sufferers like me out there who are all online, swapping horror stories and giving advice. The psychological effects of chronic pain can be staggering. Finding a community gave me hope. Fighting my everyday battle was no longer a numbers game that I was inevitably going to lose. I found just enough hope to carry on.
Reframing my Medical Treatment
Taking Responsibility for my Wellness
Another massive improvement in my life is the realization that my resilience is naturally higher than the ‘normal’ people I used to feel so jealous of. With every day that I’m able to get out of bed, go to work and play my part in society despite my chronic pain, I’m proving that I’m at least that much stronger than the next guy. I’m no longer an Average Joe. I’m a victim of chronic pain who doesn’t flinch in the eye of often insurmountable odds. While everyone else is shooting hoops in their daily lives, I’m tossing around the medicine ball and growing stronger.
I didn’t really grow up in a household that valued physical prowess. I grew up as a book worm (I still am!) and scoffed at the prospect of ever doing a single pull up or going to a yoga class. In countless studies, regular exercise has proven to not only improve physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. When the chronic pain hit, my physical well being took a nosedive and I had no inborn concept of what it takes to begin an exercise routine. In time, however, I began to learn from other sufferers and from better doctors that exercise is one of the greatest treatments for ankylosing spondylitis. Now I’m the guy who regularly invests in home gym equipment to test it out and determine if it helps fight the chronic pain.
Whether it’s as simple as having a reliable morning routine or hitting the gym, taking personal responsibility for my wellness has improved my outlook by leaps and bounds.
Becoming More In-Tune with my Diet
Getting Involved in the Community of Chronic Pain Sufferers
Beyond these improvements to my life, I’m now writing this blog. I have a website that I regularly update and use to keep in touch with other sufferers. The things I’m writing about this struggle of mine are resonating with other chronic pain sufferers and, for that, I feel the biggest sense of pride. The chronic pain that once held me prisoner has now become something that actually connects me with other people and helps improve their everyday battle, too.
It occurs to me that maybe, as sufferers, we should remind ourselves on our worsts days all the different ways that chronic pain has actually changed us for the better. I think you’d be surprised to find that there is more strength to find in your suffering than you might think.