Understanding Chronic Pain

In this post, I share my personal experiences with chronic pain. I hope my story helps bring you to a deeper understanding of what it’s like to live with chronic pain.

Understanding Chronic Pain

Understanding Chronic Pain - Strong with Purpose

“What happened to you?”  The simplest answer is that I was a passenger in a car accident in April 2017 and after that, things took a turn for the worse.

But really, there’s more to the story than that.

When I was born, I experienced serious birth trauma which laid the foundation for my neck issues and hip dysplasia.

I lived a sedentary lifestyle for many years. I sat a lot in school and at home. I worked desk jobs where I sat in all day every weekday. Eventually I began to realize the importance of posture, but it was so difficult. By then my spinal abnormalities had already developed.

I lifted weights too intensely and frequently without fully recovering. I sustained many injuries that seemed minor at the time but they exasperated my existing issues, creating further imbalances in my body. I tried my best to gain strength and lessen my imbalances, but oftentimes I got caught up in the endorphin rush of lifting weights and pushed myself too hard.

The car accident was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After that, I found myself in severe total body pain, the worst of it in my neck, hips, and back. I thought the pain would just go away on its own, but it didn’t.

Instead of immediately seeking help, I internalized my experience. I went down a spiral of shame, depression, and hopelessness. I engaged in many self-destructive habits and I struggled from day to day. I ate emotionally and gained a lot of weight in the process, which worsened my pain.

When I finally did seek help, the process was miserable. I fought to receive any kind of coverage for chiropractics and physical therapy, but it was short-lived. Afterwards, I was still in severe pain. I blamed my car insurance company for treating me poorly and cutting off my coverage so soon and I blamed myself for not seeking help sooner.

I realized these emotional events felt bad energetically as they were holding me back, keeping me stuck in the past, and preventing me from getting the healing I needed. I chose forgiveness, which allowed me to let go of all the blame and resentment.

I released my feelings of worry and attachment about how much energy, time, and money it would take to heal. I fully committed to my healing and I took full ownership of the process. After I made healing my main focus and priority, things began to move in a positive direction.

But healing is not linear, nor is it easy.

Everything had to shift. I could no longer go through life on autopilot.

I began allowing my intuition to guide me rather than my ego and identities.

I resolved to be present with my pain and my feelings. I committed to myself that I would do the best I could every single day, no matter what that meant.

I strive to live a non-sedentary lifestyle and maintain proper posture through everything I do.

I no longer work for someone else. Now, I work at home as a creative entrepreneur. I still use a computer daily, but it has helped my pain to use a standing desk in good posture.

I changed the way I was eating. I healed my relationship with food and lost 55 lbs in the process. This reduced the strain on my spine and body, lessening my pain.

I shifted from a mindset of fear to one of curiosity. Instead of focusing on what my body can’t do, I ask, “what can my body try to do today?”

I take the best possible care of myself. I get a chiropractic adjustment 3x/week, a massage 2-3x/month, and I give myself reiki healing every day. I strive to do my daily movements, soft tissue work, and physical therapy exercises every day.

I do things that feel purposeful and joyful. I read, write, listen to music, dance, sing, play guitar, create, make art, cook, garden, meditate, enjoy my dogs, spend time in nature…

…Yet, some of these things cause further pain and imbalances in my body. And so it’s all about finding the sweet spot of balance between healing and still getting to do what I love.

It’s about choices. While living in pain, I have to carefully pick and choose the things I do, because I’m not able to do all the things. If I go too hard doing one thing, it makes it so my body may not be able to handle the next thing I had in mind.

Even on my best days, traveling is a risk since lots of roads are full of potholes which aggravate my pain. It has been so healing for me to find a wonderful friend who is always willing to drive to me so we can enjoy time together without causing my body further pain.

Some days are more joyful and some days are more painful. But there’s room for it all: simultaneous pain and joy.

Every little moment of joy feels like a celebration.

I experience pain, but I am not my pain.

Planning for the future is not possible, and that is okay. I’ve completely surrendered to uncertainty.

I remain optimistic about my healing. I’m thankful for my pain which has been the catalyst for making major changes in my life. It continues to teach me valuable lessons in patience, resilience, balance, compassion, and gratitude.

Thank you for reading. If you also experience pain, you can read my other post with more detailed tips for living with chronic pain.

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