Excellent topic. Thank you, Dani.
This is a toughy for me. I've always been a hard worker; work hard, play harder. I've always been physical, whether it was outside or inside. Most of my jobs have been physically demanding, but I have found them rewading. It wasn't until over 3 years ago that I had to try and change how I lived my life. I still tend to over do things, but the problem is things need to get done, and I have a strong sence of responsibility. It's hard for me to let other's help me, or do my work for me. It's my responsibility, there for, I'm the one who's supposed to be doing it.
At first alot of people didn't believe me. My pain started with a work related injury, and when it wouldn't go away, and the doctor's couldn't find anything, it quickly became a "it's all in your head", my own boyfriend at the time started to resent me, calling me a hypocondriac, that I was faking it, that I was just being lazy. I even had one of my Workman's Comp doctor's tell me "I can't find anything wrong with you, there for you're fine" "it's all in your head". It hurt, and in many ways it hurt more then the pain itself and the physical limitations it caused; I'm not one to lie, and I'm not lazy.
I'm lucky to have a caring, compassionate, disabled mother. She is able to understand on some level what I struggle with, and is sympathetic as a result. It's been hard to learn how to ask for help over the years, but I am learning. For so long I prided myself on being a strong, independant, single Mom... now to be so weak, was ... well, redundantly enough, weak of me. I found it shaming, and caused myself alot of mental anguish. I was angery alot in the begining. It wasn't fair, why me, and the physical limitations were frustrating. Things I enjoyed on a regular basis now meant putting myself through a living hell. I have a high pain tolerance to begin with, and now I was pushing it beyond my own known limits. I didn't want people to perceive me as weak, so I would hide my pain; grin and bear it.
For people that don't know me, when they hear I have chronic pain they dismiss it, or do the poliete thing "Oh, I know how you feel." If they don't realize I have chronic pain they just think I'm lazy when I ask for help unloading my grocery cart. Even some of my long time friends have been "Oh, you're just whining.", until I gave them the full story. Then it was as if a light was turned on for them, and suddenly they felt sorry for what had happened to me. My family tries to give me my space, try not to smother me, try to wait till I ask for help. For my boyfriend it's difficult. He hates to see me in pain, but he also knows that I'm stubborn and I don't want to be treated like a chinadoll; something my Exhusband always did... but his reasons for doing so were selfish. For him he was always trying to get me to stop doing things that caused me pain, even after repeat reminders that I have to fight my condition on a daily basis, because my pain interfered with his happiness, but at the same time if I tried to do what he said and not put myself in pain, then he griped about how I was being lazy, and he worked two jobs so that should be more then enough and I should be able to do everything else.
Alot of people have a hard time relating to me, no matter how many ill patients they've known. My other "mom" figure in my life is a nurse practioner, and even she has a hard time grasping what I've got, and what I struggle with day in and day out.
Like Laura, I'd rather grin and bear it, unless I'm alone crying infront of others just doesn't happen, and I hate for my family, especially my son, to see how much I hurt some days. The night my pain flared so bad I actually woke my boyfriend made me feel heartsick ... he knows what I live with, but I still hate it when he has to see me like that. I know how much I hate it when I feel powerless to help others; I don't want to cause those I love to feel the same way about me.