How do you explain to people why you cannot do certain things?
I’m young and I look “normal” so people always assume I can do all the things that guys my age do. Trying to explain chronic pain to a young adult is futile because most young adults are very healthy and cannot empathize. In addition, I don’t like to sound weak or pathetic so I try my hardest not to show any signs of impairment or pain while in public.
Instead of explaining chronic pain, I typically do everything in my power to avoid people so I don’t have to. The only people who know the true extent of my pain disorder are my parents. I avoid forming relationships with most people because I don’t want them to know I’m not as tough, healthy, confident and athletic as I seem to be. I can pretend to be OK for short periods of time … But if anyone hangs-out with me long enough they are bound to find out just how much chronic pain affects my life. Because of this, I avoid forming close relationships with people.
As long as I make short, medicated, planned public appearances… I can give people the perception that I’m relatively “normal”. Since people think I’m “normal” they accept me and don’t view me as weak…. But if people found out how much chronic pain has impaired my life, they would inevitably reject me. I work around and attend college with relatively young, healthy people who would not look favorably upon a man who cannot engage in the typical activities that young adults do. And even elders would reject me because my disorder has no verifiable, definitive cause or striking symptoms.
It is only considered acceptable for a young man to have limitations if his disorder/disease is both verifiable and visually profound. For example, a man with severe Cancer, who does not work full-time, would NOT be considered weak or pathetic since his disease is both verifiable and visually profound…. But a young man, like me, with an ambiguous chronic pain disorder is considered weak and pathetic by society because his disorder is not verifiable or visually profound.
In summary, I avoid people so I don’t have to explain my chronic pain…. And I don’t want to explain the full extent of my chronic pain because I don’t want people to form negative opinions about me and/or abandon me.
I’m not sure if this is the best way to go about things … so I decided to post the question here to see what you-all do.
I'm so sorry that you deal with this at such a young age. I struggle with this as well. I'm not as young as you (38), but I definitely don't have a foot in the grave either...Personally, I would let some of the closer friends that you have in on your "secret". People that do not have chronic pain do not GET chronic pain. I explain this to them by asking if they have ever had a migraine. It's the same principle, basically. If you've never had a migraine, one simply think it's a bad headache; which it TRULY is not. I have found that when people ask me what's wrong (keeping in mind that these are people that do know me), I've found it best to just keep it simple. I simply say, "It's not a good day" OR, "it IS a good day". That way, I don't feel like I'm burdening or "whining"...it's short and sweet and to the point. I get tired of telling the story over and over; I can only imagine that people get tired of hearing it. I hope this helps.
wishing you a pain free second, minute, hour, day or whatever you can get---