With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I'm facing fear... fear of the unknown. Am I going to feel okay for the Thanksgiving festivities? Will I be able to handle being around so many people all day long? How long will it take me to recover from the day?
Fear comes up a lot in my life. So, I'd like to re-share a post that I wrote in October 2010. The post is titled Fear in the Life of a Chronic Migraineur:
Fear is something that I try to ignore - you know, just sweep it under the rug. But, fear in the life of a person with chronic pain builds up quickly, and it cannot stay contained under the rug for long... it must be acknowledged and dealt with.... much easier said than done!
Fear is a constant struggle for those battling any chronic illness. The fear of being unable to complete a task, fear that the pain is going to become or remain unbearable, fear that medications aren't going to help, etc... These are things that we battle daily, almost continually. Fear runs through all different areas of life - physical, emotional, spiritual, personal, professional, relational, financial, etc...
My fears are numerous and many are unspoken. Most of them are centered on the future... Will the pain ever lessen or cease? Will I ever live a "normal" life? Will I be able to return to and complete graduate school? Will I be able to return to work? Will I be able to have kid(s) - and be the type of mother I want to be? Basically, what kind of future can/will I have with chronic pain?
Fear and depression are both familiar to many people that live with chronic illness. I fear falling into depression... yet again. I fear depression's hold on my life. I fear being thrust into the darkness and the feelings of loneliness that comes with depression. But, fear casts me farther into the depths of depression.
I try to lead as close to a normal life as I can, despite having chronic pain; but it is difficult. My pain can become debilitating and take me out at a moment's notice... for an unknown amount of time. It's difficult to plan or commit to anything ahead of time and I hate having to back out of plans at the last minute.
The irrational (but very real for many living in chronic pain) reality is that there is even fear during the "good" times. When I feel "good" (a relative term), I find myself consciously fighting fearful thoughts that the bad will soon come/return to ruin it.
I honestly wish I had a list of ways to overcome these (and other) fears, but I don't. My advice is this:
- Be honest with yourself about what your fears are.
- Share your fears with a trusted friend or loved one.
- If you feel that you cannot share or handle your fears alone - seek professional help.
- Know that you are NOT alone!
This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM).