Chronic Pain: Five Lies and How to Combat Them

Overnight, chronic pain burst into my life. I used to be the mom who worked out twice a day while my children were napping. I even exercised through my whole pregnancy—with sciatica and nausea. My house was always clean and organized. I thought I had it all together.

But then—one morning I woke with pain that radiated throughout my body. However, I felt it mostly in my back, legs, and joints, like the sciatica pain I had during my pregnancies.

For the first time, I struggled with chronic pain. Discouragement grew as the person I once was seemed to vanish. Fast forward to today, I’ve learned so much. I’m still in pain—and it’s worsened. Soon, I realized that I’d started to live with the lies of chronic pain and I had to learn what to do when these lies sneak up on me.

Chronic Pain Lie 1: I am a failure.

I scan my apartment from the dishes growing in the sink to the expanding pile of dirty laundry. Toys litter the floor. Then, a little voice burrows in my head and I see what I can’t do.
You aren’t good enough.
Did you see that mom on Facebook who posted a picture of her beautiful floor? What about the mom who made a fun project with her kids?
You’re a stay-at-home-mom. If you can’t clean the house and keep up with the dishes, what good are you?

The Truth:

Every time I call myself a failure, I take my eyes off Christ and focus on little ol’ me. Yes, when I’m left on my own, I will fail. I can’t do everything I need to do. It’s too exhausting, too overwhelming, and too depressing. So the best medicine for the feeling of failure is to combat it with God’s Word and prayer. Satan wants to keep us down. When I allow those feelings to burrow in my heart, I do fail. I fail to trust. And—my work just gets harder.

Chronic Pain Lie 2: My kids are missing out.

Nausea prevents me from pushing my kids on the swing or going down the slide with them. I can’t crawl on the floor while they ride my back because of pain in my joints. I can’t dance with them or chase them. I’m limited. So, then comes the conclusion, that other kids have it so much better.

The truth:

Live in the moment. When my body decides to work, I get on the floor with them. We dance from one end of the room to the other. I play hide-and-seek and squeeze into corners. It sets me back a little—and those evenings I’m feeling it. But those giggles that follow me are so worth it. When the pain gets too much,  find a comfortable place, cuddle them, and read to them. Love on them in the way that you can.

However, God chose to bless me with two crazy, sweet, beautiful children. He put them in my care. There is no better for them. As long as I love them, they won’t be concerned about what I can’t do (especially when they’re little, like mine.)

Chronic Pain Lie 3: I’ll do it tomorrow.

This one is tricky. There are days I can barely walk across the room. I struggle to make meals and change diapers and pick up my kids. If I can’t do the minimum, how am I supposed to do laundry and dishes and clean-up?

I’m learning that if I put it off for tomorrow, it may never happen. In fact, it will be harder to do tomorrow because it piles up.

The truth:

 

Prioritize. If I could afford to hire a cleaning service, I probably would. Sadly, chronic pain isn’t a pass to get out of cleaning and laundry. I do have to be careful. If I push myself too hard, I set myself back for days. Weeks, even.

One week, I had it all together. I pushed through the pain. I completed every task on my list. But then, I couldn’t walk. I limped across the room, using the furniture as my guide.

Determine what absolutely must be done versus what you would like to do. For me, I must clean the toilets, sinks, shower, and tub, sanitize knobs and handles, wash the diapers, and keep up with the dishes. Anything else is bonus. My husband helps where he can.

On a good day, I stick to a schedule that works. It balances playing with the kids, cleaning, and writing, but takes my full day. On bad days, I focus on twenty minutes. I set the timer and clean for twenty minutes. Then, I sit down with the kids on the couch and read a book while they play. Twenty minutes later, I play with the kids. If I can’t do much, I have them bring toys and we’ll build blocks on the couch or read a book.

On my bad days, twenty minutes is manageable.

On my worst days, I feed the kids and change their diapers. I cuddle with them and love on them.

Chronic Pain Lie 4: I can’t ask for help.

My husband will laugh and shoot me a scathing look when he sees this. I am horrible about asking for help. I avoid it at all cost. I’d rather make myself miserable than ask for help.

But with chronic pain as my constant companion, I need help.

The truth:

Ask for help when you need it. Surround yourself with people who care and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Then, when you can, offer to return the favor. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. (Let’s work on this one together.)

Don’t forget to seek medical advice. Personally, I see a chiropractor once a week and it makes a huge difference.

Chronic Pain Lie 5: I can’t let anyone know.

Someone asks me how I am and I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to complain so I settle for “okay.” For some people, that’s enough. Others, pick up on what I’m really saying.

The truth: If someone wants to know, tell them.

I am notorious for calling it ‘back pain’. Well, it’s not back pain. It’s a series of spinal irregularities (similar to MS) that causes all sorts of problems. Now, I don’t need to go into all the detail with every person that I come across, but I do explain briefly to anyone who asks and wants to listen. Even then, it’s surface. But, if I tell others what’s going on in my life, they can pray for me. Or, going back to lie #4, they can offer to help.
Always, always pay that back by praying for them, asking about them, and helping them.

To be honest, I struggle with all five of these. I hate feeling weak and in pain. I hope one day, I’ll be back to my normal self. Until then, I need to focus on Christ. Keep my eyes on who He is, not what I can’t do. Use the slower pace to draw closer to Him.

Now your turn. In the comments, tell me if you struggle with any of these. Also, feel free to add tips for what you’ve learned through chronic pain.

17 Comments

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      I’m glad this help. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

  1. Sharon

    That was beautifully written in the most transparent way♡ You are loved and prayed for. I know i can’t understand. My mom deals with this daily so I see the effects and struggle it is. ♡

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      Thank you, Sharon.

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      I’m so glad this helped you. I love that it can reach those who aren’t dealing with chronic pain specifically.

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      Since starting with a chiropractor, it has made such a difference for me. I don’t follow Ruthie Lindsey, but I’ll check her out.

  2. Jenn

    Chronic pain is terrible, but I’m glad you are able to find ways to get through it. It’s definitely important to be able to communicate!

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      It is. Thank you for visiting. Yes, communication is so important.

  3. Kate

    Thank you for sharing your insights. I have suffered with chronic pain since my youngest child and only daughter was in 1st grade. I had so many of the negative thoughts that you listed.
    She is now a 20 something teacher, like I was – only better!! I still struggle with pain, but get to enjoy 4 grand daughters on my ‘good days’!

  4. Heather Hart

    I can see all of these playing out. Satan loves to weave a web of lies in our heads. Thank you for sharing the truth.

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      He does. I think that’s why it’s so important that we arm ourselves with God’s Word.

  5. Jen

    Thank you for the insight and the “truth” statements that are a tool for every reader here 😉

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      I’m so glad you stopped by. I can see how these would apply to more than just chronic pain situations, for sure.

  6. Peggy Booher

    Thanks for this article and God’s Word. I like the way you answered every lie. Reading your article gives me insight to the way I can deal with my own chronic pain.

    As I read through the list, I realized that Satan uses circumstances to try to destroy our feeling of self-worth, but God’s Word buoys us up and always encourages us by focusing on Christ and our worth in Him.

    I have gone to a chiropractor, and that does help. I have found a lot of relief going to a massage therapist too. My neck, back and shoulder muscles get knotted up, especially when I am anxious about something, and after half-hour of massage, I walk out pain-free. It’s a real blessing.

    Thanks so much; this article is so valuable.

    1. momentsdippedinink
      Author

      “I realized that Satan uses circumstances to try to destroy our feeling of self-worth, but God’s Word buous us up and always encourages us by focusing on Christ and our worth in Him.” I LOVE this. Thank you for those words. I’m so glad this helped.

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