Emotional and Physical Pain Are My Unwanted Sidekicks

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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Pain is the consummate four-letter word. I have felt pain in the most primal of ways. The emotional chasm of grief in my soul. The physical torture of pain in my body. Pain is unyielding in its relentless torment. It remains the quagmire I fail to solve.

Life with chronic, physical pain is an unenviable reality. I live with it every single waking moment. I utilize many modalities to manage pain. Meditation, medication, basic yoga, heat and ice, acupuncture, and cognitive and physical therapy contribute to my abilities. Despite all of this, there are days when the pain is unresponsive. Two to three of every seven days are like this.

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Constant physical pain affects and influences my emotional well-being. The inverse is also true. As a teenager, my emotional angst came in tandem alongside aggressive endometriosis. Depression and anxiety were my constant companions. The emotional fallout was far more difficult for my adolescent self to metabolize. The confluence of both confused my young mind. I have no doubt I unwittingly conflated the two.

Our physical and emotional selves are intricately intertwined. When I experience severe physical pain, I often feel sad or down. Conversely, emotional stress takes a physical toll on my multiple sclerosis and pain. It speaks to the intricate nature of pain in our bodies. It is evidence of their interconnectedness.

My endeavors to manage pain will last a lifetime. As my disease progresses, so does the severity of my pain. I see how this affects my mental health. To respect this process, I advocate for the care I need at any given moment. This includes physicians who care for both my body and mind.

I spent much of my 20s trying to avoid pain. I spent years lost in a labyrinth. I numbed the pain to circumvent it. I soon realized that the only way to manage pain is to walk through it. I had to experience the loss I had tried so hard to avoid. Like a wave, the anguish had to wash over me. Only when I was soaked in truth could I then metabolize it.

I will never condone the pain levels I experience. But to live, I must accept what is. It has been and will continue to be the cross I bear. I hope that my choice to coexist with pain helps others see that it is possible. I pray not for relief from my pain, but for the courage to live despite its existence.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Ben Hofmeister avatar

Ben Hofmeister

Thank you for taking on such a difficult to have and talk about, yet (nearly) impossible to explain, subject.
This is one of those MS paradoxes. I want to commend the excellent writing and the open, raw sharing, but I hate the subject that inspired it. "I really enjoyed your article about the toll that chronic physical and emotional pain are having on you." just doesn't sound right and it's depressing to think that there's a lot of people with MS and a host of other chronic conditions who are nodding along right now because they understand completely. Can I just say, "Thanks, I hate it." and have it understood as the compliment I intend it to be?

Ben

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Dear Ben,

Thank you so much for your kind comment. Unfortunately you, too, understand the quagmire that is chronic physical and emotional pain. I am so sorry you battle this and hope that one day the medical community will grasp the gravity of our reality.

My warmest thanks,
Jenn

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June Patricia Turnbull avatar

June Patricia Turnbull

Sometimes, I feel that no one else has a pain that even comes close to mine. My GP thinks of me and my husband as being "Knowledgably Patients" as he says we know more than he does which doesn't exactly help me. Last year my new neurologist believed he had cracked my worries giving me anti-psychotics but they came even close to stopping the pain and now I find myself just about "begging" him not to abandon me and keep my next appointment he hasn't but I can only hope this LONG period of time until the next appointment has allowed him to think more about what the next step is going to be. Quite often I wonder what the point of it all is! I'm just in constant pain!

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Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Dear June,
Thank you for taking the time to write. I am so sorry you live with such extensive and chronic pain. It most certainly takes its toll. It is frustrating to advocate for ourselves then have it misinterpreted. Keep up the advocacy as you know what you need.

Have you considered looking into pain management? It can be helpful to have a physician and team who specializes in chronic pain. They also understand the compounding depression.

My best to you always,
Jenn

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