Millions of people live with chronic pain, yet I often feel as if I’m the only person suffering in the world. Pain sometimes makes me feel isolated from everyone, and everything.
It’s a tricky, ongoing battle comprised of three players: heart, mind, and body. I’ve discovered that all three will never align in the way I want them to. When one goes off-course, the entire triad goes haywire.
- Heart: A beating heart is the embodiment of life. Not only does it signify existence, but as long as we have a pulse, the “possibility” of a miracle still exists. Broken or not, a heart will continually attempt to replenish our souls with optimism.
- Mind: Our mind longs to rid itself of worry and crippling anxiety associated with our discomfort. My brain has worked overtime, desperately searching for answers, magic pills, or any holistic method that could fix my debilitating pain. I’ve always come up empty handed, and feeling more distressed afterward. A weak mind is easily polluted with depression, vulnerability, low self-esteem, and so on.
- Body: Our body never ceases in reminding us who the big boss is. Our “pain” shares its day-to-day stories with us on a very intimate level. It’s a part of our inner being, and we don’t have to let others into our personal “pain” space if we don’t want to. If we constantly expressed how much agony we’re in, overbearing pessimism would breathe more horror into an already-dismal situation.
It feels like every component of “myself” is against me at times, and mental meltdowns happen more than I’d like to admit. I’ve often contemplated which of the three is the frontrunner – Heart, mind, or body? My thought is “none of them.”
It’s “words” that reign as champion because they hold the most power over our entire well-being. I’m continually fighting off defeating words such as sadness, anger, lonesomeness, and fear. Words have the ability to tarnish, or shine, our self-image. Encouraging words are nourishing to the soul, like feeding a rich green vine that twists and turns at every crevice. If we stop nurturing the vine, it will wither from the inside out.
At my weakest stage, even simple, innocent words reminded me of my physical and mental struggles. A typical greeting of, “Hello, how are you,” is usually answered with, “I’m good, and you?” I realized it’s pointless for people to ask how we’re doing if they don’t have time, or want to hear, the real answer. I’ve had people ask how I’m doing as they jogged past me, late for a meeting. Imagine if my response was, “Wait! I’m dealing with chronic pain, and I’m depressed. Do you have a minute to talk?” I bet I’d receive some strange, and uncomfortable, reactions.
I find it easiest to tell people I’m doing okay. Sometimes that answer is truthful, and other times it’s not. There’s nothing wrong in pretending we’re okay. People can’t comprehend chronic pain unless they’re suffering with it themselves. As a result, I’ve learned some incredible acting skills, only I don’t get paid for my daily “show.”
As chronic pain fighters, we’ve earned the right to mourn the loss of our health. No one expects us to laugh through tears of agony, but I’d rather extend a weak smile than fall to my knees, and drift away into eternal mental darkness.
Damaging words, whether thought, read, spoken, or heard, can warp our minds into believing our lives aren’t worth living, which is not the case. We’re not forced onto a boundless road of defeat and despair. It’s a daily, delicate challenge through the mountains and the valleys. Positive surroundings, loving and understanding people, and enjoyment in the little things are essential for everyday survival even in healthy people.
We are not our bodies. Our bodies are merely a vessel, allowing us to share our true, inner beings with a piece of this big world we live in.
Life must go on, and we must make the most of what we’re given – Together, in heart, mind, body, and words of encouragement.
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