I think it was one of my doctors that said,
“There is nothing noble about having to endure severe pain when there are options that will help alleviate the pain. I don’t care if its severe physical pain, or if its severe emotional pain. We put ourselves through too much pain, because we think that it’s some sort of spiritual, strengthening experience and it proves something about us as an individual. I don’t believe that. Asking for help and pain relief is not a sign of weakness but of pride. Knowing when to ask for help is a strength.”
That’s been rattling inside my head for months, and I believe it’s true.
I’ve seen people online in support groups and in real life say that they endure the pain of Fibromyalgia and Lupus and other chronic pain disorders without asking for any relief from doctors or any support from friends and family because it’s a test from God. If Jesus could die on the cross for our sins then the least they could do is endure their pain without complaint outside of the Fibro support group.
I want to scream at those people that the entire point of Jesus dying on the cross for us was to sacrifice himself for our sins so that there would never have to be another blood sacrifice again to God. No more pain from sin, because he was carrying it. So any pain we’re going through isn’t because of sin, or because God wants us to go through it as some sort of test. God created scientists and doctors for a reason. God created nutritionists and yes, even homeopaths for a reason. To help us improve our health and ease pain. If we try and it doesn’t work, we simply (ha) having found the right combination yet.
So many of us that have chronic pain like Fibromyalgia seem to think that showing signs of pain and asking for help or support is a sign of weakness, and if we show any kind of weakness then others will walk all over us and take advantage of us.
We think that obtaining pain relief and admitting that natural remedies we’re trying don’t work well enough or are no longer working and we need to try something else is a sign of weakness.
We don’t want people to think we’re faking.
We don’t want people thinking we’re exaggerating.
We don’t want people thinking we’re whining.
We don’t want anyone to think we’re trying to suck The System dry and take Your Tax Dollars In Benefits We Don’t Deserve.
We believe that you have a right to judge our pain relatively while at the same time, believing that you have no right to judge.
We believe that we should be able to endure any kind of pain in silence, that we shouldn’t burden other people with our pain.
We believe we’re burdens.
We hope our spouses and loved ones stay by us steadfastly no matter what, and refuse to see us as burdens and make great effort to understand us even when we’re at our worst moods and least ability.
We believe that our children shouldn’t see our pain and disability and how we handle it…. just like how so many people believe children should never see their parents fight and make up… without realizing that children who witness and learn to deal with disabilities in their families grow up with compassion and an ability to understand disabilities.
We believe we’re burdens even to our doctors ( if we don’t already believe Big Pharmacy is out to get us, poison us, take all our money, and all doctors are in on it). We forget that doctors are our employees who work for us and with us, and we get a say in our treatment. We forget that we have a voice, but that we need to learn to use it.
Our burden shouldn’t ever be someone else’s burden. Yet… when our loved ones don’t ask us how we’re feeling or offer to help us, offer to try to relieve us some how, some way, so many of us are hurt and insulted and complain that our friends and family must not care. We spend so much of our lives hiding our feelings, emotions, pain, and disability that we forget we’re not really letting them in. They don’t really know us because they only know what we’ve shown them until now. If it appears as if we don’t need help or care or support, they’re not going to offer it. If we don’t tell them we need anything, they won’t offer it. If we don’t ask, no one will help.
And if we don’t inform spouses and children that they’re expected to help, they won’t.
Yet we take on their burdens as if they were our own without complaints even if we can’t afford it, and we’ve nearly run out of spoons. Why do we do that? Because we need to prove ourselves. We need to prove that we’re fine and can handle our own burdens, those burdens that no one else is supposed to notice, as well as be helpful and loving to everyone else.
We need to prove that we can overcome. We can bust through disability that’s in our way. We need to defeat disability and illness and disorders and differences. If we can’t we need to pretend and try to pass so as not to make others uncomfortable.
We need to always be Hope and Inspiration. We need to be wanted.
The stigma of pain and disability has been built into our society for so long that people who endure challenges from disabilities and chronic severe pain perpetuate that stigma by behaving as if we’re ashamed of our pain. That’s what hiding our disabilities and pain really does. When we minimize our experiences and we even go so far as to say,
“Someone else has it worse than I do. I shouldn’t complain.”
We’re saying that we don’t matter enough to be taken care of and to be paid attention to and to be pampered. We don’t matter enough, period.
Do I always want to look for strength in my disabilities? No. Hell no. I have some terribly horrible days where I don’t have any strength of any kind at all mentally, emotionally, or physically. I’m not an inspiration or hope to anyone on those days. I’m not trying to be.
The strength lies in our ability to ask for help.
More of us need to learn to insist on help from our loved ones, and explain what we need when we ask for help and support.
It’s not enough to hope and beg and pray that our loved ones will simply know that we need them, and that they will know what exactly it is we need. The problem is they’re not mind readers. How can they possibly know what we need if we don’t tell them explicitly what we need. Our doctors don’t even know unless we tell them explicitly. And when we tell people we love, as well as our doctors, we need to use a strong voice. We need to use our no nonsense voice in order to get our message across. I’m known for bringing printouts with a list of things I want to talk about. I’m also known for bringing printout of research I’ve done, and I bring links to online research which I know my doctors probably should have done or have already done so that they know there’s a resource that they can go to. When loved ones don’t seem to understand what I’m going through I have learned to show them research. I’m still learning to show my pain rather than hide it. I’m learning that hiding my pain and enduring my pain is not Noble. It does not make me a stronger person. When I need help I am learning to ask for help.
But perhaps even more importantly, when I need help and someone offers their help I am learning to say yes and accept it. It’s hard to do that because of pride, but I have learned that more people than not do have a good heart and even if they don’t understand what I’m enduring if I let them see my pain even if they cannot empathize with me they still want to help. If they can see an actual physical need that’s obvious to them they’re more likely to help. Someone sees simply pain and they don’t know what to do it’s hard to endure it it’s hard to know how to help. People feel helpless when there’s not an obvious task to say here let me help you with this. It’s hard to say what can I do to help you when there’s no clear solution to expect the person they want to help.