Many people in Chronic Pain feel very alone sometimes, myself included. There is a big reason for that loneliness, mainly the fact that YOU are the one in pain. Despite how much we wish our doctors or loved ones could feel our physical pain in order to understand and validate how we feel, there is no device that will allow us to hook our pain receptors up to another person (but we can all hope for that one day). No one else can feel YOUR pain.
We may not be alone in our journeys, but we are, essentially, alone in our pain. Additional factors that contribute to loneliness for those living in chronic pain include:
– Inability to do activities outside of the house
– Inability to work
– Marital problems resulting from emotional issues connected with chronic pain
– Strained relationships with family and friends
Loneliness is often not our choice. I did not choose to have back problems and other health issues. I did not choose for my pain to change me. I did not choose to have relationships lost as a result of what this life has done to me. But loneliness is very common for people in chronic pain. And it has a lot to do with the factors listed above. Chronic pain makes many people depressed, feeling hopeless, and therefore many isolate, choosing to stay home and not socialize.
For some it is difficult to get out of the house. I am able to leave the house and go to the gym for physical therapy, I can spend time with friends and family, but like most, my time is limited. My back has a time limit for standing, sitting, walking, so things like travel, or long event are difficult. But, going out for a little while doesn’t always help the loneliness, especially if pain increases when returning. Sometimes being with others is wonderful but then the recovery is painful and can perpetuate the cycle of depression, isolation and loneliness.
I try to fight loneliness where I can though. I can’t do anything about the marriage issues that have arisen as a result, but I can use my support system. I actually find that since my separation I do a lot more. I have a weekly dinner date with my niece and nephew, I see my best friend most weeks, go to my classes, spend time with my family. I didn’t realize how much I had isolated until all of this happened. I am very lucky to have a supportive system, but at the same time, sometimes you can be with 10 people and still feel alone because people don’t understand what you are going through. As I have said, the bottom line is YOU are the one in pain and you can explain it, give examples, try to make others understand, but it is still YOUR pain.
How do you deal with loneliness?