IMG_3528-2-EditI’ve been in pain now for almost 5 years. I have days when I rail against it, days when I feel depressed and hopeless, days when I wonder what is the point and how I will keep going.

But… pain has given me some gifts too.

Pain has showed me how strong I am. How much I can still do despite it. How tough I am mentally, as well as physically, to keep on going. I am stronger and tougher than I have dreamed that I was.

Pain has brought me more compassion, empathy and understanding. I am far from perfect and I still get annoyed or frustrated with people, but my pain reminds me that everyone has their struggles, whether you can see them or not. I try to remember to be kind, because the way someone is acting could be because of physical or mental pain that I can’t see.

Pain has shown me that I need to be kind to myself. Sometimes I have to say no, and that’s OK. I need to go to bed at 9 if I have to get up in the morning. I need to take my meds if it’s bad (not pretend I’m fine and don’t need them). I need to pace myself and not do too much. I need to be kind to myself and accept my limitations.

Pain has made me more receptive to things such as mindfulness and meditation. When you are struggling with pain and anxiety, you find yourself more open to things that might ease them. I have discovered ways to be more in the moment. It doesn’t stop the pain but I’ve found new ways to be more calm.

Pain has shown me that people around me care and want to help. Their concern and care is clear in words and actions and even when I feel like I’m always tired, grumpy and not very lovable, they are still there with me.

Pain has shown me not to take for granted the ability to move around and be independent. Pain has shown me that it’s OK to accept help. Pain has shown me how truly amazing some people are. When you know what it is to be in constant pain, you feel in awe of others who manage to do amazing things and achieve big goals despite their difficulties. When you have a better understanding of just how hard something is, you appreciate the wonder of the achievement that bit more.

Pain is not welcome. I’d be happy if someone found a miracle cure. But I can’t say it’s all bad, when I have learnt lessons from it. So in a weird way, I am grateful to pain.

By Suzy Shipman

I like to take photos and write words ...

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