Supporting Someone with Chronic Pain
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is a debilitating condition, in which pain continues on for three or more months ,despite treating the underlying injury or condition, if one exists. Differing from acute pain that tends to result from a specific injury, chronic pain does not always have an identifiable source or endpoint – pain signals persist abnormally. The lack of reprieve from these signals can be both worrisome and tiring for the individual experiencing the chronic pain. To relate better to someone living with chronic pain and increase your support for them, you should allow them to educate you about their chronic pain, be supportive, and be aware of what not to say.
Once you understand a little bit more about the unique chronic pain that your spouse, friend, or family member is suffering from, work on practicing empathy. Being empathetic means that you make an effort to understand the behavior, perspectives, and feelings of another person by looking at the world through their eyes. Part of this empathy includes respecting the effort level of the person with chronic pain. While they are coping with chronic pain, they are simultaneously trying to look normal and sound upbeat and happy as frequently as possible. Although they may not be as active as you are, or as you’d like them to be, they do live their lives to their best capacity.
Understanding the Invisible Condition
Since people that live with chronic pain do not show any outward symptoms, one of the best things that you can do to support them is merely to listen. To demonstrate that you are a good listener and that you care, pay close attention and make an effort to understand what is happening inside of that person so that you can comprehend what they need and how they are feeling. Along these lines, you must also be patient if the individual with chronic pain is moving slowly or cancels a previous commitment on short notice. If you find yourself being impatient, you risk guilt tripping the individual and potentially interfering with their willpower to cope.
Lastly, always be supportive and include the individual with chronic pain in your life whether they are stuck laying in bed or happily moving around and about. Sometimes your loved one may need assistance with dressing, bathing, getting to the doctor, or personal cares. By offering to support them, you may provide a sense of normality in their life. Regarding social events continue to include your loved one in your life despite the fact that they occasionally cancel plans. Just because a person cannot always engage in certain activities, or has cancelled recently, does not mean that you should discontinue asking them to join you. Chronic pain is isolating enough.