Living with chronic pain can make having any kind of social life feel nearly impossible. It’s not easy to plan a lunch date with friends when you don’t know if you’ll be able to get out of bed on time or to join any scheduled activity when you never know from day to day how your body is going to behave. Even family members – our closest social connections – may distance themselves or feel unable to relate.
While it’s easy for people who suffer from chronic pain to slip into a state of isolation, it’s equally important to keep relationships up. Social support is a huge factor in managing chronic pain, and living in isolation and depression actually makes the physical pain worse.
Don’t Give Up
If you’ve ever found yourself in the situation of canceling the same get-together for the third (or fifth, or seventh) time, it’s tempting to give up and decide that you aren’t going to try anymore.
When you’re living with chronic pain it’s important to remember that you will not make it out every time that you try to go out. Understanding this completely will make it easier to say “I wish I could join you, but I just can’t do it today.” There is no reason to beat yourself up if you can’t make it to an event or family outing.
Even if you can’t leave the house and see people face-to-face, you can still do something social. Giving someone a call, writing an email, or even sending a quick text are all ways that you can reach out socially when your body doesn’t want to cooperate.
Don’t Push Past Your Limits
Though it is important that you don’t give up on spending time with others, it is also important that you don’t push yourself beyond what you can handle. If you can’t make it somewhere on time, don’t force yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for not interacting as much as other people; remember, your health should always come before other people’s opinions.
While chronic pain may make you feel completely alone, the truth is that there are many people in the world who understand how you feel.
There are many forums, chat rooms, and websites devoted to people living with chronic pain. Chronic pain forums are a safe place where people with various conditions can be encouraged, share coping tips, or even share artwork and poetry that only other people with chronic pain will understand. These sites may help relieve loneliness simply by allowing you to see that there are many other people who understand your situation and what you are going through.
While the internet can be a great place to find support, you may also want to find a group that meets in person. If that’s the case, you can try searching for chronic pain support groups in your area.
Find a Doctor Who Listens
One of the most important kinds of support that you can have while living with chronic pain is to find a caring pain doctor. It’s important for any person to have a good relationship with their doctor, but it is even more so for people with chronic pain.
People with chronic pain need to see their doctor more often and they need specialized care. It’s also important that chronic pain doctors are understanding of missed or late appointments.
A good doctor will take the time to listen to your needs and concerns, both physical and emotional, to help decide what the best type of care is for you.
Chronic pain is extremely difficult to live with, but it isn’t impossible. With support and understanding, you will be able to live the kind of life that you want to.