Chronic pain and mental illness.

When you add chronic pain to mental illness, you get a perfect storm of fuckery. It’s a miserable convergence that’s leaving me not only unmoored but unable to figure out how to fix the situation: I’m distracted by the miseries of pain and pins and needles that rip up my body in greater and lesser degrees daily.

Some days I’m almost pain-free. I don’t feel relief on those days; however, I feel guilt. I feel like a fraud, and I feel judged: I thought she had pain but look at her moving about freely. The return of near-agony is almost a relief: I feel justified in both seeking help and periodically (frequently) whining: Look, the pins and needles are back, and my hands once again feel like they’re on fire. I wasn’t lying: I do need help.

That’s the problem with the invisible illnesses: you’re (I’m) left feeling like you have to prove your pain and earn your air.

On the bright side, I’m vaping more marijuana. I stay at a low level of altered most days now. It’s no different than how I felt when I was popping Ativan. I don’t take it for the pain: my cartridges are about THC, not CBD. It’s about the calm. Pain that never ends makes you frantic, and when I’m frantic, I make bad decisions.

I’m not taking enough to get really high: there are no laughing fits or refrigerator clean-outs at this dose. It just takes the edge off of what are now months of fairly serious pain.

Luckily, a flare-up of my neuralgia is hovering in the wings. The Gabapentin is holding it off for now: I don’t need a visit to the hell that is trigeminal nerve pain. (I was looking for a previous post about neuralgia and realized my titles don’t reflect the content. This is both awful and great. The former because I can’t find what I’m looking for, the latter because now I have a project: my anhedonia has been making that a challenge). [i]

I’ve seen a rheumatologist. By video chat, which is still weird though he wants the next appointment to be in person. And, I’ve more tests to get done. At least I pay for my medical costs with my taxes. If my problems required money out of pocket, I’d have been out of luck years ago.

The deep and nasty pain in my groin is a new misery. If I’d secrets to tell, I’d have confessed already. [ii] Topicals help some, but everything takes time, and, in the interim, my nose gets stuffy from incipient tears.

Deep pain in my hips again, pins and needles from the waist down, being unable to get done what I’d like to get done and feeling like this too is making me fail: yes, I occasionally want to weep. Even though I recognize the wallow.

My depression is no help. I’m anhedonic (new word), but depression’s numbness does allow for tears of self-loathing and despair. These are mostly the latter. I still hate myself, of course, but it’s a muted hatred, a leftover echo from an eating disorder staring its death throes in the face. I’m starting to approach my imperfect, saggy, weight-gaining body differently.

That is, I sort of don’t care that I’ve gained a bit of weight and lost some muscle tone. The eating disorder is freaking out over my lack of freaking out. Tolerate the buddha belly? Not start vomiting over the nearness of my inner thighs? The eating disorder considers that unacceptable. But, while I dislike my current shape, it’s not enough to make me throw up or stop eating popsicles. I’ve other demands on my time.

Pain is a time-consuming distraction that limits my options. Even sitting to write this causes distress. I wonder if my son is still using his standing desk? The convertible desktop pop-ups are neat and expensive. My son, like his mother, regularly rearranges his space in search of the perfect layout (sorry about the inherited neurodiversity: I was hoping for the twenty percent).[iii] Perhaps there’ll be a transfer of his desk-topper to my office in the future? I’m too cheap and cash-strapped to buy one for myself (though I do find money to buy myself books).

In the meantime, I’m trying to remember that my life has value even if I’m currently unproductive in any real respect (although as I continue to cull my possessions, I provide value to the charity shops that are the recipients of my largess).

We don’t have to earn our air. That doesn’t change because I’m temporarily on the DL.

A university professor once asked me to consider the “why” behind my writing. I sometimes struggle with that, thinking I need a grand purpose or profound question underpinning things. I frequently don’t have one. My posts are often edited, diary-type ponderings I think might resonate. Writing things down is also a way of trying to find a solution. Sometimes, I get good advice. The occasional “snap out of it” is also not unwarranted.


[i] The inability to feel pleasure.

[ii] I suspect it’s a pull/strain caused by the compensating I do to avoid aggravating the joint pain, similar to the upper back strain that comes from my odd sitting choices (sitting is hard when you’re trying to stay off your pelvis).

[iii] My son had an eighty-percent chance of some form of neurodiversity/mental illness. With one neurodivergent parent, there’s a forty percent chance. With two, it jumps to eighty.

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so things start to make sense. I suppose that once I figure out life, the universe, and everything (my thanks to Douglas Adams), I'll have nothing left to say. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

5 comments

  1. First of all, I wanted to yell at you. You DO NOT!!! feel guilty for having a better day (or moment). Unless I was someone who captured you and wanted to torture you, I will not be happier because your misery is more constant. (I often found it funny when a doc would ask me about my pain level and I realized that miraculously it was much lower then than at other times. So, I figured that I would give them an average of my “normal” pain levels and the lower level at the visit. I felt like it better reflected my state.)

    I like my titles not always being obvious. That way the reader never knows what they are going to get. But then again, the same goes for me when I’m trying to reference something. Eh… You win some, you lose some.

    The standing desk is awesome (but yes, expensive), so, for the time being, I prop my computer up, keyboard, and mouse on a stack of books and binders. The problem is that you can’t easily lower that desk 😛 but maybe that’s a good thing – motivates me to stand more.

    I remember you mentioning back issues in the past, but I’m not sure of the details. Do you think you might need back surgery? It sounds like some nerves are really getting compressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I need a good smack sometimes. And, the average idea is a good one.

      I thought of jury-rigging one myself. The only issue is the one you mentioned – the ease of disassembly. It’s funny how quickly one adapts to things being easy(ish).

      I fractured/broke my lumbar spine about eleven years ago. Apparently the once herinated discs are herniated again. That was on top of some previous damage. In my next life, my back will be seeking revenge 😂 The general consensus seem to be arthritis, though if they’d come up with a pain plan, that’d be neat 😐

      Liked by 1 person

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