I am so happy to have Anne from 29 Going On 92 guest post on the blog today! Anne is going to share her experience with chronic illness and how using humor changed her outlook on her life. This post is absolutely beautiful and I believe it is one that many people living with a chronic illness can relate to!
Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Anne!
How Humor Helped Me To Manage My Chronic Pain
If being in chronic pain for over a decade has taught me anything it’s that there is humor in every situation. For years I tried to find a way to look at my experience with anything other than disdain. But geez, I barely had enough stamina to get through the minimum each day required, much less stay up on the latest treatment outcomes and try to find a non-existent silver lining.
I eventually gave up and realized that my outlook was the only flexible variable of which I had any control. I tried the “everything happens for a reason” approach, but felt that reason would have to be colossal to justify the fact that I have been in pain for more than one third of my life. I thought about how this experience has shaped me, hoping the changes made me a better person, but quickly saw that I was more fun, patient, and less prone to mood swings before the pain stuck around for good. I was in a hole, and before I knew it I could no longer see the sun.
So one night my pain was keeping me from sleeping, a scenario that anyone with chronic pain knows all too well, and I had already taken the maximum dose of medicine for the day. Instead of pulling out my computer and mindlessly browsing social media sites I began writing. I wrote page after page about an event that my pain had ruined not just for me, but for everyone in attendance. My tone wasn’t bitter or angry, it was funny (if I do say so myself). The writing sounded like the pre-pain me, and I could hear a lightness in my words that I hadn’t seen in years.
After reading my ramblings the next day I recognized that I had been ignoring the humorous aspects of my experiences. Sure, the topic of life in chronic pain in your twenties is a bit of a downer, but there are so many laughable moments! I made writing a regular thing, a way to pull me out of my negative mindset. I would sit down, a blank computer screen before me, wondering how I was going to make light of my horrible day. After months of writing, however, I never failed to twist my experiences into laughable tales of woe. I eventually started a blog called 29 Going On 92 to share my musings with others.
The sad fact that is that chronic pain is an epidemic in the United States, affecting more Americans than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. While we have the numbers, we aren’t a very connected population. (It’s no surprise that a bunch of people who struggle to complete day-to-day tasks aren’t organizing 5ks and passing out pamphlets every weekend.) In addition, chronic pain is largely misunderstood and even stigmatized, which doesn’t exactly encourage those who are suffering to speak up.
What I found in the first two weeks of putting my words out there is that people with chronic pain are anxious to connect with others who understand their plight. We want to read something we’ve been thinking but have been scared to say; we want to know that someone else has the same anxieties, fears, and stressors. And what could be a more convenient communication tool than the computer? No one has to commit to a lunch date, wake up early so they can get out the house on time, or even put on pants! With all of the negatives that go along with social media replacing face-to-face interactions it was nice to see the system working for a group of people in great need, a category of which I am a member.
I know that my blog is hardly unique, but the intrinsic benefits from writing and connecting with others is changing me. Sure, my pain is as bad as it’s always been and I don’t think it’s going to get better, but I’m no longer going through it alone. I’m suddenly searching for other chronic pain blogs, Pinterest boards, and Twitter hashtags. I cannot understand why I never used social media in this way before (which I’m fairly certain is a big slap in the face to my fellow Generation Y members), but I guess it’s better late than ever, right? There’s a lot I cannot do, and even more I cannot control, but I suddenly feel as if I’m back in the driver’s seat, and I’m going to do whatever I can to stay here.
Hi, I’m Anne, and I have been in chronic pain for over a decade because of extensive injury to my hips. I’m trying to find the balance between living the life I always pictured and managing my pain. My blog 29 Going on 92 is for anyone who suffers from chronic pain, particularly those who feel they are too young to be feeling so lousy.