Chronic-Thriving

The Girl with the Headaches

We always want our circumstances to change our seasons, but it is God who would rather change the seasons in our souls to change us to be more like Him. In these ever-changing seasons of the soul, we learn to sing, I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! It is well with my soul. And we are surprised because we mean every word!

At 15, I was pushed into the world of chronic pain. Headaches had always been a part of my life since a very young age, but by the age of 15, the headaches became a permanent fixture in my life. I lived as the girl with the headaches and I couldn’t see past the pain–not really. You can read more about my struggle and the emotional onset of my chronic pain in my book, A Pygmy’s Life for Me.

But throughout these nine years of pain, the seasons in my soul have shifted drastically and for the better. Nothing has stayed the same though I am in the same trial of physical pain. There has been an ebb and flow of chronic pain, many incredible life events, added trials much harder for me than physical pain itself, and yet nothing in these nine years has placed my soul in a stuck position–because God doesn’t ask His children to live stuck lives. Ever. Continue reading “The Girl with the Headaches”

Chronic-Thriving · Life & Learning

Healing from Chronic Pain

I’ve been looking forward to this post for almost a week. I haven’t written about my chronic pain in awhile namely because I’ve done a lot of healing and also because I’m growing past sharing about it publicly.

The first time I wrote about my chronic pain (This Is Vulnerable), I found freedom from the self-inflicted silence & “bravery” that I had forced myself into. Opening up about my weakness was the first step to admit how broken I really was. Leading up to that post, I thought I was very good at hiding the pain, acting “brave” despite migraines, and pushing my body beyond its limits.

In short, I was a mess.

img_0478

Sharing publicly about my chronic pain helped me take giant steps forward. Sometimes, I let it swallow me. Sometimes, I indulged in self-pity. Sometimes, the discouragement was abandoned for God’s comfort & strength. There was victory and defeat.
Continue reading “Healing from Chronic Pain”

Chronic-Thriving · My Journey Through Pain

Living with Chronic Pain

I come to this topic carefully as many people have suffered chronic pain, and pain is so diverse. I just wanted to write the practical things that I have learned throughout my four years of living with chronic pain. I have written more personally about my journey through chronic pain many times. Those posts are primarily from my heart which will be linked below.

But today, I just wanted to give some practical advice on how I have dealt with chronic pain. This is not an extensive list, and I understand that chronic pain is so very different for everyone. I just hope to be an encouragement to those who suffer in this way by sharing with you what I have learned. Maybe you can apply some of these practical tips to you life.

truth

Without further ado, here we go!

 I realized that focusing on the pain will not solve the pain.

We need to stop making pain the main event. It is in our life, but it is not our life. Believe me, I understand the whole pain thing. It’s real and it isn’t fun.

Making your friends understand why you can’t participate is hard. Skipping work one too many days is not as relaxing as it sounds. Throwing up, having migraines, experiencing intense stomachaches, and extreme fatigue is exhausting emotionally. BUT we can’t make it the main focus of life.

Do what you know is best for your body. Say no when you need to. Don’t be ashamed to tell the truth about your pain, but don’t make every conversation about your pain and don’t live as though your pain is the main event. It’s not.

I stopped believing that chronic pain is all BAD.

Too many articles and too many people focus on how awful chronic pain is in their lives. They wallow in the limitations and the hardship that the pain brings. They lose themselves in finding ALL the things that can make it go away. Chronic pain isn’t bad.

It’s not.

A proper view of pain makes all the difference. Chronic pain has helped me realize my weakness without Christ. Chronic pain has grown my compassion for others in pain. Chronic pain has shown me my incompleteness in self & my wholeness in Christ.

Chronic pain has sunk me so far under that I realized the value of life and the reality of death. Chronic pain is in my life and I have learned countless things from it. I am thankful, truly thankful to God for my chronic pain.

Quit believing that chronic pain is only a bad and terrible thing. Recognize God’s strength & grace while experiencing this pain.

I started asking other people how they were doing.

Strange, right? I am the one in pain! Why ask others how they are doing? Isn’t it you and me that are hurting so much that we can barely move? OK, let’s just rewind.  I am not the center of attention no matter how much pain I am experiencing. Even you are not the center of attention no matter how much you are hurting. It’s not about us.

It’s NEVER about us.

We may be in pain, but that doesn’t mean we should stop caring for others.

Ask other people how they are doing, especially when you are in pain. It teaches you to actively take the focus off of yourself and your pain. You may even find that others are hurting. You may even see that there are many people with chronic type pain or even pain similar to yours. Your compassion will grow for others. You will think less about yourself and how you are doing.

I stopped believing the lie that I must be half a person.

I am sure many people with chronic pain have felt lower than life, less than human, so sick you cold barely think or move. I have. Then I began to believe the lie that I must be half a person. I’m not good enough. I can’t exercise. I can’t do what others can do. I have to work less. I have to sleep more. I have to take legitimate sick days.

Guess what? All of these things just mean that I am a human with limitations. Limitations aren’t bad. Limitations can actually be really good! They have helped me realize my humanity, my weakness, and my inability to live on my own. They bring me to God’s strength. Limitations carry me to His throne when I am too proud to do so myself. Everyone, even those without chronic pain, have limitations. They just look different than mine!

Recognize your limitations. Find why they are helpful in your life and be thankful for them.

I found a couple of friends who deal with chronic pain.

Chronic pain is such a common problem that this shouldn’t be too hard for anyone. I have several friends that I keep up with regularly that suffer chronic pain. My friendship with these people doesn’t give me license to complain with them.

These friendships build a community of encouragement and prayers. We ask each other how we are doing, we understand the tears, we laugh about the careless comments of others, and we share success days that we barely had any pain. And we remember again  all of God’s goodness. It is refreshing and beyond helpful to have these friends.

Find friends that suffer in the same way you do. Encourage them and be encouraged by them.

I realized that everyone has a form of pain.

It was truly life-changing when I realized that everyone is suffering in some way. The weight of my physical pain was another person’s emotional pain. Everyone is chronically dealing with something difficult in their life.

You are not the one and only soul battling this thing called pain! Don’t live and act like you are the only one. Countless people are suffering. Find them. Pray for them. Love them. Encourage them.

I am curious now.

What have you learned while suffering chronic pain? I want to hear from YOU what has helped you most, the lessons you have learned and how God has shown Himself mighty in your life!

Leave your answers in the comments. There are so many of us out there and this post is intended to help us stand together and build a friendship bonded by this thing called chronic pain. (Find more practical tips here).