By Barby Ingle, Columnist
Mental health can be disrupted when living with chronic pain. Anxiety, depression, isolation, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can increase to dangerous levels. Life can become overwhelming -- particularly for people who have been suffering with chronic pain for a long period of time. The idea of living with this horrible disease with no cure is astounding.
When my chronic pain started doctors often told me, “Just do this and you will be okay.” I would build up my hopes and follow their directions. But when I did not get better, I came crashing down and so did life around me.
When I finally realized there was no cure for my chronic pain and that my future would include pain on a daily basis, I began to have dark thoughts. I went through a grieving process in the course of coming to grips with my new reality. It is hard for many pain sufferers to accept their changing life, and the loss of independence and function.
It is very important for you and your family to recognize the symptoms of diminished emotional well-being and take action or you may end up at risk of suicide. There are going to be good and bad days, and if this is a bad day for you, remember to focus on the good days, good feelings and positive past and future experiences.
It was when I began looking for solutions, and displayed a positive attitude, self-esteem and confidence, that I began to attract other people who wanted to help me accomplish my needs and goals. Be sure to surround yourself with a team that is on your side, or you will be in a fight in which you will have trouble winning.
Creating a positive attitude starts with being inspired. You can begin by finding new interests and hobbies you can enjoy. A few suggestions are joining a non-profit cause, solving puzzles, writing a journal, joining or starting a support group, or even starting a blog. Creating a purpose can assist with your self-esteem and confidence.
I have learned that every person has a value no matter how big or small they seem. Believing in yourself and in your abilities, choosing happiness and thinking creatively is good motivation when it comes to accomplishing your goals. Learn to expect success when you are going through your daily activities. It might take you longer or you may need to use more constructive thinking to achieve success, but it is possible.
There are great benefits to having a positive attitude, especially when things are not going your way. Staying optimistic will give you more energy, happiness and lower your pain levels. Success is achieved faster and more easily through positive thinking, and it will inspire and motivate you and others. I have found that when I am letting the pain get the better of me, it comes across to others as disrespect and brings those around me down.
No matter the challenges of today, they will pass, and will not seem as bad as time moves on. Challenges often turn out to be a bump that looked like a mountain at the time. You can be mentally positive and happy even when there are large obstacles to overcome.
No person or thing can make you happy and positive. Choosing to be happy starts with mindfulness.
You can learn about mindfulness and moving beyond psychological suffering in a free two-part webinar I’ll be hosting, featuring Dr. Melissa Geraghty on April 28 and Dr. Karen Cassiday on May 13. You can register for the webinars and learn more about treatments for anxiety and depression by clicking here.
Barby Ingle suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and endometriosis. Barby is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and president of the International Pain Foundation (iPain). She is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics.
More information about Barby can be found at her website.
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.