My chronic pain was not with me my whole life. It began at age 49 and never left. When it arrived I was functioning well in the world. I coped with the challenges of life by engaging with life, people and the world. When once I could drown my sorrows by diving into an activity, now I can only take small samples of activity each day. After enjoying one activity, my pain is so high that I need to rest. I can not sit through a seminar or even a movie without severe pain. Thank goodness for luxury cinemas with reclining chairs. This brought the movie going experience back to my life. If only I could get a Ph. d. sitting in one of them. Or can I by going to school online???? Note to self, look into that!
But here is my point. My old coping mechanisms have been stripped from me. My ability to engage fully with the world has been taken away. This leaves me with old issues glaring at me with very little relief. I realize I have a deep sadness in me that has been here since childhood. Distractions like TV and video games help in the moment but also sink me deeper into the sedentary life I have fallen into. There are no endorphins from too much rest. I am committed to doing little bits of exercise each day in the hopes of building up to more, but the trick is to find the right amount that will move me towards health, rather than set me back to square one. Sometimes I get the balance right but sometimes I don’t. I have learned to be patient. My work engages me with the world in bitesized bits, but then the exhaustion overtakes me.
I can see now that this blog is really not just about my struggle to deal with chronic pain, but is about the connection between chronic pain and depression and my journey to reclaim my love of life.
I am listening to an audiobook called: Get Off Your “But”, By Sean Stevenson. Sean Stevenson is a motivational speaker who was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a disease that causes his bones to be so brittle that he was born with broken bones all over his body, and continued to break them throughout his childhood. He is unable to walk on his own and has used a wheelchair his whole life. I am really enjoying his book. His zest for life is contagious. He talks about connecting to others and to taking risks in life. And his physical challenges are exponentially more difficult than mine.
I find it hard to be happy in spite of my chronic pain. How does he do it? Even though I socialize and have the greatest friends anyone could hope for. I have the best husband on the planet. Even though I participate in work that I love. Even though I am so grateful, I want to strive for more. I feel gravely unsatisfied.
I feel held back and so tired out by my physical limitations. I certainly have lots of “But’s,”but I don’t even know what they are keeping me from. My Buts are: But I am in pain, But it will make me feel worse, But I am tired, But I am exhausted, But I have done enough for today (and maybe I have). Yet I yearn to feel self-actualized and I don’t.
Things I have started but have not finished: My novel, my decorating, my preparation for my husband’s upcoming birthday.
Things I have done: updated my finances in preparation for taxes, work part time in my own business, cleaned the kitchen, helped a friend in need, did some exercise, wrote this blog post.
But, but, but… My days are short. My energy is limited. I think I can do more. It is my creativity that feels most stunted. I am not sure how to get that back but I am striving to do so!
I will resume my quest tomorrow.