Posted on Jun 29, 2011 | Tags: pain management, emotional stress, emotional health
Ask any ‘spoonie’ or an individual living with chronic pain what the most important aspect of their treatment is and they’ll probably answer with ‘family support.’ Arizona pain doctors all across the valley spend much of their time on diagnosis and treatment, behavioral psychologists work on the emotional and mental aspects of chronic pain, physical therapists focus on the physical, so who’s left to simply offer a hug or some much needed laughter?
Chronic Pain and Family Support
When an individual is living with chronic pain, it doesn’t just affect them, it affects the entire family dynamic. And when the family dynamic changes, the guilt begins to build, which only affects the family dynamic even more. It’s a vicious cycle of pain, guilt, depression, and often a great sense of loneliness.
We depend on our families for support on every level. For anyone else, when a sick day calls it’s usually the family that steps up and fills in the gaps; making dinner, cleaning, running errands, because they know the sick days will be few and far between. But when you live with chronic pain every single day, and every single day turns into a sick day, family becomes your rock. They don’t just pick up the slack a few days here and there, they are depended upon to take on more responsibility every day from now until pain specialists can began to relieve your pain. Handing over that much responsibility to family can be difficult, can lead to extreme guilt, can build resentment, and can ultimately change the entire family dynamic.
Guilt and Resentment with Chronic Pain
Our Arizona pain doctors tend to hear two words very often in our offices; guilt and resentment. Guilt is a natural emotion that always accompanies chronic pain. We have yet to meet a patient who has not felt guilty for their situation. This guilt, over time, becomes resentment towards yourself as well as the family. It can be resentment for feeling in pain, resentment towards family members who are not as supportive, or resentment towards life in general.
In the many years we’ve been treating patients, there’s one thing that stands above all else for ridding those emotions of guilt and resentment; participate in family life as much as you can. You might not be able to get up early and get the kids ready for school, but maybe you can help them with homework when they get home. Maybe you happen to have a ‘good day’ on Saturday, and even as the family has planned different activities, you bring them together with a fun family day at the park. Take advantage of your ‘good days’ when you can. By being able to do this every so often, you’ll feel more a part of the family again and less guilty or resentful.
The worst thing that you can do as you go through pain management treatment is to avoid your emotions, avoid the ‘pain’ discussion with the family, and pretend that everything is ok. Having a positive attitude is a key element in recovery, however you also must be in touch with reality for your family’s sake. Talk with your Arizona pain doctor about your emotions. Sit down with your family and explain to them your feelings of guilt and resentment. In the end, Dr. Peper here at The Pain Center of Arizona is one of the best behavioral psychologists with experience in chronic pain in the nation.