Living with chronic pain can feel lonely and like a burden to friends and family. At least that’s how it has made me feel. People always say to me, “You don’t look sick.” I always ask, “Well, what does sick look like?”
There are a lot of invisible illnesses that don’t show any physical symptoms and are mostly internal. Someone can look completely fine but inside their body is screaming at them.
I have had to learn how to manage healthy relationships with the people I love. I am going to share with you some tips on how I have been able to achieve this.
1. When You Have Energy and Feel Good Pick Up Extra Chores
On days where I don’t have pain or have very little pain, I try to pick up extra chores such as grocery shopping, loading and unloading the dishwasher, deep cleaning, and cooking. My husband and I usually split the chores equally but sometimes he gets stuck doing more.
2. Have Great Girlfriends
Make amazing girlfriends who you can complain to. If they are good friends, they will always listen! It is nice to have someone else besides my husband to vent to. I understand that he might get tired of hearing the same old, “I don’t feel well.” He probably doesn’t mind my complaining but it seems to help him and I. This leaves time to be able to talk about lots of other things.
3. Get a Dog
But only if you have TIME and are responsible enough for one. My dog, Cowboy, has helped me so much and keeps me company. I suffer from a painful bladder condition called Interstitial Cystitis and spend a lot of time on the toilet and he is always there sitting looking up at me or jumping in my lap. He cheers me up like nothing else and gives me so much comfort.
4. Keep a Journal
I love getting my thoughts out on paper. It helps to just write exactly what is on my mind when there is no one to listen or if I don’t feel like talking. I also use this to go back and reflect on times when things were easier/harder. It makes me realize that “this too shall pass.”
5. Communication is Key
Don’t let resentments build up or they will all come out at once and it won’t be pretty. I have done this more than I want to admit. Bringing things up right away did not come naturally to me so I had to teach myself how to do this. It took a lot of mindfulness. If something is bothering you, talk about it!
6. Create an Online Support Group
After opening up on my blog and EmpowHER about my condition I received a lot of emails from other women struggling with the same condition. They have been some of my biggest supporters. We can bounce ideas off each other and vent. We both know what each other is going through. They validate my condition and the pain associated with it is real. Even though I have never met these women in person, I feel like they are my friends!
7. Know that Your Partner Loves You No Matter What
Remind yourself of this and believe it. They wouldn’t be with you if they didn’t want to.
If you have any tips on this issue and want to share them with the community, please, please leave a comment and join the discussion!