Sadly there are many people that do not understand, cannot, or do not want to comprehend what people with ‘Invisible Disabilities’ that include ‘Chronic Pain’ go through on a daily basis.
The standard response is ‘You Don’t Look Sick’, which is at once frustrating and a compliment, as those with ‘Chronic Pain’ in general do their best to hide it.
Spoon Theory is a good visual:
Chronic Pain is most often associated with Chronic Fatigue, as pain is exhausting, and therefore it is applicable, and one way to explain that although you managed to perform a certain task before, that does not necessarily mean you can do it again now.
The best way I can explain it is this:
Imagine the pain you get just before a bout of diarrhea, you know that sudden sharp pain that has you doubled over clutching your stomach and knocks you off your feet, rather like a nasty IBS attack.
Now imagine that the muscular pain from that is felt in every muscle in your body, at that exact level. Then add on joint pain from inflammation, that would have you clutching at your joint, but it’s every single joint so you can’t and besides which your nerves are on fire.
Now imagine it’s like that 24/7 and has been for decades.
That’s simply the background pain for those with Chronic Pain, that which we hide from friends and family every day. It’s the new additional pain that knocks us out now, but as we’re already exhausted, it really takes it’s toll.
It’s not the pain from 9 vertebra and a shoulder blade out of position all day – that’s quite normal, it’s the pain from your hip out of it’s socket on top of spine and shoulder, the novel pain that you can’t hide.
After years of pain you learn to manage it. You learn ‘Spoon Theory’. If for example, you really wanted to spend some time with someone, you’d rest up significantly before meeting with them and you’d possibly spend days or even weeks in bed after trying to keep up with them and hide your physical state whilst with them.
Of course diet helps, sugar and starch feed inflammation, most noticeably in joints, but also everywhere else in the body, but some ‘friends and family’ cannot understand why you might be so ‘picky’ with what you eat, why you spend so much more money on organic produce, in order to avoid toxins that you know will increase both pain and exhaustion levels exponentially.
They also do not understand why you hide your pain, which is in actual fact because it’s the only way you can have any sort of life.
I write this, not for sympathy, if I wanted that I wouldn’t hide it, but to attempt dear reader to get you to understand, that not everyone goes through their everyday, the way you do. That not everyone’s day is as long as yours i.e. you may be up and active for 16-20 hours a day, when those with Chronic Pain may only hast 10 hours, or less (often 2-6).
Without effective communication, understanding and empathy, many people are misjudged and mistreated, please think carefully before falling into this trap.