A patient of mine told me the other day, “I don’t think I will ever be able to accept my chronic pain. It has completely changed my life.”
I think this is something that most people with chronic pain contend with at some point in time; wanting to hold onto hope that their diagnosis isn’t chronic or not wanting to come to the realization that they will have to live with the pain forever.
When most people hear the word “acceptance” they equate it with the notion that they should feel that it’s okay or it’s alright to have a chronic condition.
Many people don’t ever feel okay about having to live with pain or an illness for the rest of their lives. It is not something that is easy to get used to and it’s not fair.
- Accepting chronic pain does not mean giving into it and it doesn’t mean that you stop looking for treatment.
- Accepting chronic pain does not mean accepting a lifetime of suffering.
- Accepting chronic pain does not mean you are never allowed to feel angry or sad.
- Accepting chronic pain does not mean that you have to give up hope for the future.
Acceptance also involves making adaptations and alterations to our lives.
A therapy currently found effective for chronic pain patients is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,. Addressessing acceptance seems critical for such patients: Mindfulness, Acceptance and Catastrophizing in Chronic Pain.
Other therapies used: Psychological therapies for the management of chronic pain
We must find new things that bring us joy and we must have hope for the future.
- Accepting chronic pain means learning to live again.
- Accepting chronic pain means advocating for ourselves and our health so that we can be as healthy as possible.
- Accepting chronic pain means learning our limits and learning to cope with feelings of guilt when we have to say “no.”
- Accepting chronic pain means being able to look at your diagnosis as something you have, not who you are. Your condition does not define you.
- Accepting chronic pain means re-evaluating your role as a husband/wife, mother/father, etc. as well as your life’s goals — and figuring out how you can maintain these roles and attain your goals with your chronic condition.
Why is it necessary to accept your chronic condition?
The sooner you are able to begin the process of acceptance, the sooner you will be able to learn exactly how to live with it
Accepting chronic pain means learning to live life in a different way than before your diagnosis… that some aspects of your condition are out of your control.
Accepting your chronic pain means adjusting and adapting to the ways in which your life is different now that you may be living with this kind of unpredictability.
Your life may never go back to what it was prior to your chronic pain.
Any pain patient eventually discovers this as a certainty:
Chronic pain irreversibly transforms your life.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy, successful, hopeful life with pain. Learning to accept your chronic pain can help you get there.
Here’s another article on this topic:
Acceptance with Resilience – Living with Chronic Pain | Brain Blogger