Living with severe pain can be a trigger for depression, a sense of loss of who you are and who you will become, and a belief that you can’t manage your pain or your life. It is true that pain often changes people. You may have lost some of the positive abilities that defined you. These losses are powerful and sad. And coming to grips with them is a process that will likely take some time. People with chronic pain sometimes experience negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves. Recently, a reader wrote to me, saying:
[pullquote]“My chronic abdominal pain and diarrhea are embarrassing and make me feel isolated. I feel like I can’t do anything that I used to do… and I’m no use to my family. I just don’t like myself anymore.”[/pullquote]
Your Pain Does Not Define You
Don’t let the pain overwhelm your image of who you are. Sometimes thoughts can be so negative that you may have trouble realizing that pain doesn’t define you. While you are adjusting to any temporary or possibly enduring losses or changes that are part of your chronic pain, don’t forget that you still have positive qualities. Remembering the positive may help you to cope and may decrease depressing thoughts. It can be easy to focus on the negative at the expense of the positive. In fact, when we experience negative emotions and thoughts, it actually makes it more difficult to notice, recall, and appreciate the positives. Take some time to review what you still like about yourself. Click here to print out an exercise to help you recall your positive features. If you have trouble getting started, ask a family member or friend to tell you what they like about you.
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.