There are an estimated 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain, so you can only imagine how many there are across the world. Let’s say that for every person who lives with it there is one who loves that person – whether it’s a spouse, a parent, a child, or a friend. That’s another 100 million. Now, you can’t know what it’s like living with it unless you do, and understanding what it’s like living with chronic pain dramatically affects how you treat someone who lives with it. This is one reason why I wanted to write this post: to help those of you who love someone with it know a bit more about what our lives are like and what you can do to help us, or at least don’t make us feel worse than we already do.
Living with pain is not straight forward: Every day is not the same. One day (or hour, even) we’re walking down the street completely fine, and the next we can hardly get out of bed. Sometimes we know exactly why it happens, and others we have no idea.
Pain affects how much energy we have in a day: It takes a lot of energy to be in pain all the time, and doing normal things takes more out of us than it does for a healthy person.
How is chronic pain different from acute pain?
We hate how our pain affects our lives (and yours): I hate that I need a wheelchair if I’m going to go to a museum or somewhere similar not only because that’s frustrating but also because that usually means that you have to push it. I hate that I often have to cancel plans, and even more so if that means that they’re with you or you’re affected by them.
So someone you know was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis
It can be incredibly upsetting how much our lives are not like those of our age: When I was in college, most of my friends went out at least once a weekend, if not twice. I went out once a month, and even less frequently some semesters. I couldn’t drink for most of my college career, and can’t now, either. I never go out now, and I usually don’t go to events that start after 4. I live with my parents not just because I’m paying for grad school but also because I’m not healthy enough to live alone. My life is nowhere near equal to other 24 year olds.
Keep inviting us to things: Even if we can’t go, and you know we can’t go, we like to be invited.
Offer to come over and just watch Netflix: That way we can hang out with you without feeling the pressure to be “on”
Offer specific ways to help us (make dinner, run errands, etc.): If you just say, “Let me know how I can help!” we may feel uncomfortable asking for things. Offering specific ways you can help makes it more likely for us to accept your help.
Vocalize that we’re not a burden: I know this seems unnecessary, but it is so easy for us to think that we’re a burden on you if you don’t say it every now and then.
Tell us that you love us: Because everyone likes to hear this.
Like this post? Check out:
Preparing for Chronic Pain Medial Appointments + Free Printables To Help, Pain and Cold Weather: Preparing for Chronic Pain this Winter, Managing Your Chronic Pain this Summer, Relationships and Chronic Pain