Pain - it got good to me?
June 11, 2014 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I've been in chronic pain--rarely acute, but constant, flitting about different parts of my body--for years: diagnosis: early Fibro. In early spring, I started getting really bad headaches from clenching my teeth. Not the first time I've had the problem, but never before this intense and for this long. Then about a month ago, I developed lower-back/sciatic pain--again, I've had it before, but never so badly or for so long. The two things didn't overlap much, but they sort of drowned out my regular aches and pains. Now my back problem is clearing up, and I find myself in a panic about not being in pain anymore

To the extent that I have stopped doing anything to help my back heal, and I have been poking my worst fibro tender points to reassure myself that yes, they are still excruciating. I've been sick/in pain and gotten better before, and never had this reaction. I can intellectualize why the thought of suddenly being "cured" would freak me out (what if the pain hasn't been holding me back and I'm just not very good at life? what if I've subconsciously built my identity around pain and sickness?). It's particularly weird because I am still in pain, so why am I panicking about not being in pain ever again?

I also have a habit of fixating on things when I'm tired or stressed, usually between 11pm and 2am, but traditionally this is worrying about money or looking for something I don't need and haven't used for years but suddenly must locate, like a particular hair clip. I have coping mechanisms for those things, but this new obsession is really bothering me because it's so obviously "sick".

What I want to know is, has anyone else had this issue after recovering from a bout of ill health/injury, and does the intrusive, conscious part of it go away with time? Or is it going to last, in which case if I am really suddenly well, should I immediately schedule therapy to deal with all the wishing-I-was-still-sick baggage?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You must be worried about the way you're thinking! I'm glad you asked us about it! Sounds like you have a lot of insight into your feelings.

It's normal to take on the "sick role" when you're sick or in pain. It is also normal to mourn it a bit when you come out of it, especially if there are other difficult or stressful things in your life that remain. You might have been thinking to yourself that the back pain was making you unhappy, so if it's gone, now there's a lot of pressure to not be unhappy. But you might very well still be miserable, tired, anxious, or low-energy sometimes, even if the back pain goes away. That's all totally okay.

I don't know about you, but I tend to be really hard on myself about needing a "reason" to do what I want to do, do nothing, etc. This is because my parents repeatedly disregarded my feelings as irrelevant unless they were attached to an obvious outer cause (like I was very sick). It's hard to break away from that idea that you're always doin' it wrong! So that's another reason why you might feel like you'll miss having a "reason" to have negative feelings, or a "reason" to be kind to yourself and cut yourself some (much needed) slack.

Tl;dr: Being sick or in pain sucks in some ways, but is positive in other ways. It's completely normal to miss it! You are not "sick" for feeling this way, or for worrying about it!
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:14 AM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have MS and RA, so I know chronic pain on a first name basis. I find the rare days when I don't have pain I tend to feel antsy. I liken it to when you have the hiccups, and you are just waiting for the next one, bracing yourself. I know the pain is coming back, I just don't know where or when. Plus, the pain does become like a sort of background drone after a while. Its absence can be like a deafening silence.
posted by evilcupcakes at 9:31 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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