Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plagued By Pain? No Problem! (Well Other Than The Pain Itself...)

Pain is impossible for me to ignore.  It invades every aspect of my being: making me a cranky, miserable creature, lessening my ability to care for myself and my apartment, and causing me serious financial stress.

Despite this unpleasant fate, I have learned a few tips and tricks over my years that can help make life a little more enjoyable - even if I can't remove the pain altogether.
  • Denial is everyone's WORST enemy.  For a long time, when my life felt like a constant flu, I would follow one of two paths: either push myself to fight through it (with 10-12 hour days), or wallow in my own self-pity.  Serious wallowing.  The kind where you sob into a wine bottle while lying on the floor wondering "WHY ME?!?," with people having to come over and check that you are still alive.  I didn't know it at the time, but these were two of the worst things that I could have been doing for my well-being. 
Life with chronic illness/pain is a challenging path, but there are lessons to be learned along the way.  It is as a result of many tough times that I have gone down the path on how to live as well as possible in one's circumstances. 
  • The Spoon Theory was one of the first chronic illness articles that made a huge impact in my life.  It taught me that one must create a life budget, the way one would with their finances.  You have a set amount of spoons at the beginning of the day, and you must be very careful where you use them.  The people who are stealing your spoons might as well be stealing 20's right out of your pocket!
Here are some of my favorite things to spend my limited spoons on:
When you catch yourself thinking those self-sabotaging thoughts - stop them as soon as possible through distraction methods.  Attempt to get to a happy place, even if it is only a daydream.  We already have to deal with hurting all of the time.  There is no need to add to the misery.

(Images from WeHeartIt)



xStrangerx said...

I love this! So, true! The Spoon theory was one of the first things that really impacted my thoughts on my chronic pain. In fact I wrote it out on paper (because I didn't have ink in my printer lol) and I had my Mom and my therapist read it also.

Sometimes I find it hard to stick to the limited amount of spoons I have in a day because I want SO badly to be able to do the things that I used to do or the things I think I should be able to do at 21 and I always end up paying for it.

I have finally learned my lesson. Although I do not just not do things because I will pay for them later because if I did I would never leave the house.

So, its all about finding balance I guess. It's very hard not to dwell on those negative thoughts when you are suffering so much, but I've found poking fun at it makes it a little easier to deal with. =)

Sorry for the book of a comment. lol

Annie said...

I like books for comments :). I agree, at the age of 23, it is hard to imagine just how much I can't seem to do on a regular basis. Poking fun at the situation is definitely one of the best coping mechanisms!

Della said...

I am still learning to use my spoons wisely. Sometimes things come up, and plans change, and you come up a spoon short...or use more than you had to start with. I have been dealing with chronic(daily)pain for 10 years. When I'm starting to feel like a whiner, I just think of my favorite quote from the movie 'THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT'. Geena Davis is awesome in this movie!"Stop being a little baby and get up. Life is pain. Get used to it!" Some times you just have to suffer thru it, and do things anyway, no matter how much it hurts, or knowing it will send you to bed early, or decrease your activities for a few days. That's life.

Susie said...

Even after having CFIDS/FMS for 20 years I still struggle with all that you wrote in this post.

Back in the early days they called it The Envelope. Made a list, cut in half, put in envelope and that envelope is what you can expend for the day. I still screw it up. haha!

We all need a reminder now and then to help keep us on track.

Thank you for this one.


Assiya said...

I love love love this post! Also, count me in as someone who uses humor as one of her major coping devices. Sometimes I'm the only one who finds my pain jokes funny, but at least I'm laughing :)

PJ said...

Great list, I use the Spoon Theory - a great concept; my husband just reminded me yesterday to store up some spoons (I'm currently depleted; all out of spoons). I think I'll print your list so I'll see it; it's a good reminded to stay positive!

Toni said...

I learned the envelop approach early on. What works best for me is similar to the spoon theory. I learned it from Bruce Campbell's online CFIDS Self-Help class.

You start out each day thinking of your energy/abilities as a certain number of marbles in a bowl (see -- it really is the same as the spoon theory!).

You decide how many marbles you have to allocate to each activity. When you're out of marbles, you lie down for the rest of the day.

Shelli said...

I love Toni's idea, but I find all to0 often I've lost my marbles.

I love this post, and it's a great reminder. Somehow, even after almost four years of this, I still need reminders. Go figure!

Dominique said...

When I first read the spoon theory, I thought it was the best description of what we endure I had ever heard/read. I liked it so much, I put a link to it on my blog.

Very nicely done post. BTW, love the hair!

Kellie said...

Great post; and thanks for the posters at the end they are too funny!

Judith Westerfield said...

I'd forgotten the spoon theory. I'm going to use it in more healthy ways other than digging ice cream out of the carton at midnight to sooth myself. Thank you!
Judy Westerfield

Anonymous said...


Great reminder, I always come away from your posts with something helpful. Thank you for that.


I was taking a drink when I got to your comment, and the "lost my marbles" line just about made me spray coffee all over the lappy. Thanks, I needed that giggle. And don't feel bad about needing reminders after four years, I've been at this for fifteen, and I still need them on a regular basis.

Dana Marton said...

You have so much knowledge for someone so young. Thanks for all the helpful reminders! :-)

Blessings and love,

Aspire to Inspire-with Coach Dawn Hogan said...

Hi Annie,
My name is Dawn Hogan I am a certified Self-Confidence Life Coach. I have many clients that have Cancer and Fibro. I thank you for having the blog and publishing the spoon theroy. For my clients it is very hard for the them to see the hope and possibilites. With my coaching they are learning the tools to cope with and move past all the limited beliefs and savor their spoons. So...thank you for helping others understand. Bless you.
Coach Dawn Hogan

The Sarcastic Soprano said...

I like the way you described this. Thanks for sharing!

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