Pain is a strange concept – sometimes it’s visceral and very real, we might know precisely or even see the cause of it, but other times it can feel like trying to hold smoke, impossible to pinpoint, describe and manage. No one type surpasses the other, pain isn’t a competition and yours is valid no matter what the cause.
We’re all born with a built in threshold, but often we don’t know our limit until we’re really tested. One thing we can be sure of is that we’re stronger than we believe and this month we’re here to remind you to ‘Hold On (because) Pain Ends’ – HOPE.
There have been a few occasions in my life where pain has felt too much for me to manage alone and one thing is certain, physical and emotional pain are buddies, they walk together hand in hand. Sometimes something living in our heads can manifest in a very physical way and vice versa – physical pain can make our minds feel heavy and unwell too.
One such time for me was in grief. More than a decade ago, I experienced my first jolt of excruciating loss. My cousin died in a car accident and while I had lost older relatives before, their passing had seemed to fit the pattern of the Circle of Life I was more comfortable with – we live, we grow old, then we die. My cousin died suddenly at 23 and it threw mortality and fear into my life in a very real way. I felt very alone, I felt, truth be told, like I would never feel normal and happy again – which of course was not true but I honestly believed it.
I lived with that feeling for a long time, I used poor coping mechanisms and I tried to drown out how I felt, but I learned this was not going to fix my pain and eventually, after a very long time I got frightened by how I was feeling and knew I needed extra support. I reached out to a counsellor and booked a few sessions to work through what had happened. At this point my emotional state was making me feel physically unwell too – I was now tired, I felt unhealthy and my body was achey.
That seemingly limitless pain was eased over time and became something I understood and could carry with me. Sometimes it comes back, but it’s part of me and who I am so it’s ok. Pain can end no matter how severe.
The same goes with physical pain. If you have a chronic illness and your body flares, that surge of bodily pain can often trigger a mental and emotional response. For example, being reminded of the worst case of a physical condition after a period of wellness can be a very dark place to revisit mentally – we’re often very good at living in denial and being reminded of any kind of fragility is tough and can hit hard.
I’ve suffered both types for varying reasons, but the important bit is: while I carry those things with me, they don’t always weigh the same. There are better days, bad days and great ones and the real message here is HOPE. It does and can end, it might not stay gone, it might resurface but pain is transient and with support, there’s often something else to try, another way to manage it or something as simple as reaching out to someone willing to really listen.
So remember now and in the future to HOPE (Hold On Pain Ends).