Being in pain every day can make it feel like you’re simply surviving, rather than thriving. But there are things you can do to tend to your mental well-being, even on your most difficult days.
I remember, not too long ago (in a sort of foggy, alternate reality way) in which my life was not just physically painful from psoriatic arthritis (PsA), but emotionally painful, too.
Each day, I found it more difficult to separate my physical pain from my emotional pain because it was all I could do to simply survive each day.
It felt like my entire being was swallowed up throughout each day, just waiting until that moment I could climb back under the covers and go back to bed. I’d wake up the next morning — in pain — just to do the same thing all over again.
There is only one word that can describe that existence: survival.
When you’re just trying to make it to the next second, or the next minute, there is very little room left for anything else. Getting through the day is at the forefront of your mind, and it’s often the only thing that will get done on your to-do list.
There’s no room for anything else and no clear thoughts beyond telling yourself to just keep going. It can feel like all you’re doing is convincing yourself each morning to put one painful foot in front of the other and just continue to survive.
We deserve to truly thrive.
But don’t we deserve so much more?
We need to cling to those reasons that keep us hoping and believing that we deserve more than survival. We deserve to truly thrive.
Keep moving through the darkness and pain, and make no mistake, there is a point at which things will start to get better. Slowly, little by little, you will learn what works for you to keep moving. You will find that ray of hope that will slowly turn things around.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to try until you make it through to the other side.
Distraction is a common strategy for coping with pain. When you’re able to divert your attention away from the physical sensation of pain and onto something else, it can make the pain seem less intense, even if only temporarily.
I’m a big believer in distraction therapy and use it daily to take my mind off the unending stiffness and pain.
Do something, anything for yourself that is unrelated to managing your PsA. Maybe you like to craft, shop (if even online), or garden. I know when you’re just trying to survive, this will feel almost impossible. But dig deep and do whatever you need to make it happen.
Doing something unrelated to your PsA management is a great distraction. It will also remind you that you deserve more.
It’s normal to want to close yourself off from others when you’re struggling emotionally. But social isolation has been linked to many health issues, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, and more.
Spend time with an understanding family member or friend, even if it needs to be virtual. We need positive relationships to remind ourselves that we are more than our condition.
Dealing with the mental and emotional toll of living with a chronic condition isn’t easy, so it makes sense that depression is more common among those of us with chronic conditions than the general population.
Whether you think you’re experiencing depression or not, I think we can all benefit from a little professional help to help navigate our mental health.
As a result of the pandemic, mental health resources are more abundant than ever. Finding the right therapist for you can be extremely beneficial when it feels like your condition is running the show.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, help is out there. Reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or visiting 988lifeline.org. If someone is at immediate risk of self-harm, call a trusted family member or friend or try 911 or your local emergency number. Stay with the person until help arrives.
One of the things that helps me convince myself to continue moving through the darkness of emotional pain is my experience moving through the darkness of physical pain.
What do I mean by that? Well, it is a sad reality that in the morning, in particular, every little movement from breathing to walking, is painful. But if you can convince yourself to keep moving, despite the pain, then after a few more steps it starts getting a little easier.
Eventually you will be able to look around and slowly start to see that things, little by little, have started turning around.
In a nutshell, you have to move through the pain in order to get the pain to become less painful.
I have found the same to be true for mental and emotional pain. Sometimes when you have PsA you just have to keep moving through life, convincing yourself to get past the worst of it. Eventually, you will be able to look around and slowly start to see that things, little by little, have started turning around.
Medically reviewed on November 30, 2022
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