Comments on
Internalizing Chronic Pain


Listening to brain activity? Recently I returned to physical therapy because the whiplash from my car accident has gotten to an unbearable level.  Part of my program involved a massage where the therapist works on the areas that are causing pain. 

20 thoughts on “Internalizing Chronic Pain

  • August 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Tracy…ANOTHER…HOME…RUN….WOW…It started for me in ’91 and progressed to the point that now I CAN BREAK A FINGER and not stop what I was doing to cause the finger to break…As a man who has spent YEARS online researching things like this, to “hear” a woman clearly, articulately, and WITHOUT “Please Pity Me” PANDERING to her audience say what you are saying IS HUGE.

    THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!

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    • August 30, 2013 at 12:16 am

      What have you found in the men you have encountered who experience chronic pain? To me it seems they frequently denounce any medical assistance, frequently become bitter and sometimes express their pain and frustration with anger. Do you think they tend to externalize their pain using other targets to express/project their own misery on more than women?

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  • August 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    This has me written all over it. Thank you. If I had counted the times I have heard the comment, but you look good…… 9 spinal surgeries later. Amazing

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  • August 28, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I agree with you I was born with pain that progressed over time to be widespread but always chronic from come and go to eventually 24 hours a day pain if I put makeup on and do my hair and visit a new doc he says well you look normal and are too pretty to be sick as you say. It’s something we all have issues dealing with.. When I grin and bare it with a friend they say I must be having a really good day and that I’m doing a lot better.. Only I’m not at all and in extreme pain with every move I make. People who don’t have chronic illness and pain just don’t understand its hard to explain what it’s like and that yes we put on a face when we can and handle it better some days than others but under no circumstances are we any better ((just because our outward appearance looks like we are fine and happy so there for we must be better is very incorrect thinking)).. People don’t realize that we get through our day any way we can but our disease is with us 24/7 365. I also agree that people leave you for being sick. I’m sicker than I’ve ever been over the last 4 years my health has dropped to being disabled daily with no cure or way out and people just don’t like to be around people who are sick they don’t understand and think that we are lazy or just depressed.. That if we did something more.. Tried more, worked out more, pushed ourselves harder that we would be well. Only it doesn’t work like that. I feel like a lot of people blame the people who are sick of their illness.

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    • November 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      Dear ashley
      You are so right about everything you said, if you pull yourself together and look too good, no one believes you are in pain, even the doctors as you say, my husband always tells me not look so good when I go as they don’t believe me either, even some members of my own family think if I would just exercise or work out, I would feel better. I have a neurological condition called CIDP, which I was diagnosed with in 1993, which amounts to a lot of pain and disability. I would really like to hear someone say, “you know for some one in such pain, you are doing great to still be alive and a great mother and grandmother, and still be in a loving relationship with my husband, you are a really strong and courageous person”, that would make my day, I think most of us just want our pain to be acknowledged and respected, not denied and ignored. Shirley

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  • August 29, 2013 at 4:54 am

    I see a wonderful massage therapist once a week for my chronic muscle pain (due to fibromyalgia). One day she was working on my back, up between my shoulder blades, when a gentle lullaby came on the CD player during the session. Before I knew it I’d started bawling like a baby — those great, big, ugly, body-wracking sobs that we’ve all seen two-year olds have. They just burst out of me, triggered by some combination of the soft music and her gentle touch. I sobbed for 5 minutes, then the flood of tears gradually subsided. Afterwards, I laid on the massage table utterly limp, drained, without a single knot of tension in my body. Normally I’m a tight ball of fidgets and tics, constantly struggling with the muscle tension electrifying my body. After that one emotional release, it was all gone. Amazing! Perhaps it’s not that we consciously “hide” our pain (we do), but probably we also carry around (or even hide!) so much EMOTIONAL pain as well that we may not even be aware of … baggage that weighs us down and saps what little strength we have left after coping with so much PHYSICAL pain day in and day out…. If you find the right time and pace to safely explore such a thought — I highly recommend it. Sadly, those of us living with chronic pain don’t just suffer in our bodies, our souls suffer too. Wishing you peace and healing, my dear. I love your blog. I hope you will continue to find the strength to share it with us –you are a bright light to so many of us who live with pain and struggle daily not to let our pain define us.

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  • August 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I am 24 years old and developed chronic pain seemingly out of nowhere. I was diagnosed with depression at 19 by a Rheumatologist, at the time I scoffed at that diagnosis but the more I learn the more I learn he was probably right. That was at the beginning of college so heavy drinking didn’t exactly help my situation.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and it encourages me to fight on.
    I have strongly considered suicide as previously I was a successful athlete and had a pretty strong status among my peers due to this.
    One day at a time is how I manage now and I am continuously buoyed by new research findings and potential treatments.
    You basically summed up how pain comes to define who you are.
    I do the same, internalise everything and pray it goes away.
    Pain is a cruel mistress. C

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  • August 29, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    People REALLY don’t want to hear what I REALLY feel. They would be appalled at my language, say that I’m overreacting, you look great, it must not be that bad – the doctors say everything looks normal, maybe you are just crazy like some of your family members, but you are successful and an involved parent. How can you REALLY have anything wrong? When you are solely responsible for 3 fabulous human beings and have no true support, your character, motives, fortitude, intelligence and stamina are pushed to beyond their limits because you have no other choice. You push through it, internalize it, realize no one understands or will help. You keep going until your body has you literally flat on your back and you can’t get up. The desperation and overwhelming hopelessness is beyond anything you can possibly fix or deal with. Then you ask yourself – who will take care of my kids. When the answer is no one you just keep pushing and hope you make it to get them through to a point to take care of themselves. Then you are laid out and gravity hurts, it hurts to breathe and you can’t do a single thing. You accept that this may be the end. You pray you have done all you could to give your kids the skills they need to survive and you are grateful you have given them everything you had to give – your entire life. That would be a purpose filled life – in my mind I would have invested my life to make them the best they can be and they know how much they are loved and their possibilities in life are endless. It’s pointless to acknowledge the pain. You have to do what you can in spite of it. It sucks and I wouldn’t wish it even on someone who broke my heart and spirit. That was the worst pain of all . . . And that’s saying a lot. Gentle hugs fellow warriors.

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  • September 1, 2013 at 11:42 am

    The only time I really lost my composure in pain was labor. But I have been living with endometriosis for years and even accused of having low pain tolerance so learned to stop complaining. I can get a tattoo without flinching. I refused a wheelchair after laparascopy. I feel if I acknowledge pain people think I am a wimp. I got skin ripped off my eyelid last week when getting a wax and didn’t even realize it til hours later. The only time I let my guard down is at home and now it makes me sad when my 2 year old asks why my belly hurts all the time. Its strange to have a condition where you just have to suck it up and deal with it or else feel judged.

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  • September 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

    I’m working as a . Pain Management Therapist for at least 20 years now, doing the sliding deep tissue massage therapy. The problem with chronic pain actually is about the condition of muscles. There might be swelling, inflamed or swollen muscles which indicates that no regular circulation of blood, so no repair is going These kind of massage open up clogged circulation and fresh blood start to flow pain start to subsides and eventually go away. It’s as simple as that, although peoples don’t believe it, except my clients

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    • May 12, 2018 at 1:31 am

      Thank you. Thank you. Are you sure I’m not causing all the pain from torn muscles from an accident? Oh my goodness…I have been accused of having NO faith (HA..if I had no faith, I’d be dead), I’ve been accused of unbelief of healing (HA…I guess I’m just not listened to above the ceiling). And now last but least… I have been a pain advocate for many years. I have had some successes that I don’t share…because no one is interested. But I was just told that “MY advocacy was nothing but enabling people to stay in the victim mentality”. (Yes, they are still alive) THAT has thrown me for a loop, but it has caused me to decide what to do with more than I can do on my plate. So yes, I’m giving up patient advocacy on the Facebook end, because I have had better results with doctors on Linked In. It really helps to start there, and since we have plenty of “enablers” on FB, I’ll slip over and keep victimization in the physician realm. Plllleeeeaase….

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  • September 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, your fight, with others. As someone who has lived with chronic pain for more than 15 years, I have found that writing sometimes helps my pain. Not a lot, but it is good to get some of the negative thoughts out of me and onto paper. I hadn’t thought about internalizing the pain, but this post made me think more about that. I appear healthy to everyone else, but certainly don’t feel that way. I agree that physical pain manifests itself into emotional issues, namely depression and irritability. Keep up the fight and be kind to yourself.

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  • November 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I hope u get better soon. It sounds like u have been in 2 car accidents in the last few months.

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  • November 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you for opening this subject. I have a high tolerance for pain and have a tendency to mask my pain. I’ve had orthopedists look at test results and express shock that I’m complaining of ‘discomfort’ when most people would be begging for morphine. I come from a ‘suck it up’ family. One thing I like to tell people is to really, really listen to your body. Massage is amazingly helpful if you mask like me. A good massage therapist will ask ‘bad day at work’ or ‘what’s wrong?’, they can tell the difference between moderate stress and a serious problem. And they’re among the first to really listen because they can feel what your body is saying.

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  • November 30, 2013 at 4:18 am

    I wanted to share a couple of resources that might help you and your readers (at least worth checking out.). One is a website established by a spine surgeon, who has learned to help patients recover from the part of the pain you are talking about here, with some techniques that address the emotional side of the equation. He has found that most of them don’t need more spine surgery if they practice these techniques. His name is Dr. David Hanscom and his site is http://www.back-in-control.com. The other resource is a workbook by Dr. Howard Schubiner called Unlearn Your Pain, which helps people with chronic pain establish different emotional/neural pathways.

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  • November 30, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Thank you for writing something so many of us can relate to. I first heard the phrase. “There is no physical source of pain” in 2011 after experiencing extreme legs pain as an aftermath of a spine injury in 2004 . It was unbelievable how it was concluded that my pain is not of physical but physic origin. As a result antidepressants were prescribed which having their adverse effects destroyed an otherwise normal life. I m now living with the pain rather than doing anything about it.

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  • November 30, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I have a very high pain threshold from years of dealing with painful endometriosis. Like many here, just dealt with it, “sucked it up” even though my quality of life every month, eliminated me from being “normal” for 2 weeks. After having a partial hysterectomy, quality of life came back however the years of pain management left me emotionally scarred. I was a sponge for all those emotional hurts and abuse that came my way from so called friends, work associates and family. This year, too many stressful life events made everything rise to the surface. Family is telling me to “suck it up” and calling me selfish and delusional, when I am grieving and depressed. I’ve never felt anything like this ever in my lifetime so far.

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  • June 13, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Thank you so much for posting such an informative post. Yes i have gone through chronic joint pain for years. And I really was hiding it every time. Because my fingers were looking bad due to joint stiffness pain. But got the right care from natural therapy. for the last one year I have been doing good in minimizing the main with the sharp care of my physio therapist.
    Thanks for the post.

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  • June 27, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I was recently told by a counselor that I needed to find a way to internalize my pain and that at the end of the day the things I could no longer do such a home that should be condemned from filth, being a part of the world, did not matter after all I am 54 and I need to realize this is my life from here on out.

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