Chronic pain can be invisible which can ultimately make it extremely difficult to communicate how you are feeling to other people. When someone is in an accident or is injured which results in acute pain, it often evokes sympathy and they receive compassion from those around them. However, with chronic pain you are unlikely to receive gifts, have meals cooked for you or even offers of to help with some daily tasks.
What can seem like a minor inconvenience from the outside can actually be debilitating and excruciating. Many people soldier through their chronic pain without too much complaint, this can lead to their loved ones and friends being unaware about the true battle they are facing.
It is commonly believed that social activities are equally important factors in staying mentally and physically healthy for people suffering from chronic pain as the physical and psychological consequence of suffering with a chronic condition.
Having a chronic pain condition such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or sever back pain can mean that the person who has the condition’s social relationships are tested and they can become very difficult to maintain.
A Decrease in Social Participation
A chronic pain issue can mean it is physically too difficult to maintain a relationship with friendship groups. Flare ups of the chronic condition can lead to a terrible amount of pain which is a huge disincentive to follow through with plans to meet friends and family. Being in constant pain can also reduce the ability to participate in certain leisure activities too. The fear of being judged can also lead to someone withdrawing from their usual social activities.
As you miss more events the initiations soon begin to dry up and you can be left with no options left to socialise. Others begin to make assumptions about your mobility and capability meaning that you are no longer even invited to events that you would love to attend.
It is important to stay positive and that when you do go out to socialise, you do so with a positive attitude and always do your best to enjoy yourself to have a great time.
Impaired Interpersonal Skills
Living with chronic pain can induce self-focused attention on the issue that is causing the pain and in some conditions like fibromyalgia, the pain can be widespread throughout the body. An example of this would be a persistent knee pain that distracts your attention away from the people who are in your presence.
When you are distracted by pain, it can impair your ability to show empathy or interest in what the other person or people or saying. This can make you seem disinterested or even disrespectful. The decline in attentiveness in what other people are saying can be noticeable and can mean that people do not enjoy your company as much as they once did. It is important to regulate your emotions and ensure you provide an explanation as to why you are distracted.
Being open and honest with your friends can make it easier to participate at social events, it can also allow you to laugh at the situation you are now in which can be very difficult at times.
Pain and Bad Moods
Having to live in constant pain can understandably make it very tough to see the bright side of life sometimes. Being in foul humour when in terrible pain is not the fault of the sufferer but it is important to articulate what the issue is. If you just snap at people without explanation, over a long enough time period they will begin to retract the usual invitations and not want to spend time with someone who is always in a bad mood. Being in a bad mood is a perfectly natural reaction to chronic pain, many chronic pain sufferers try to mask their mood and how much pain they’re in to allow others to feel more comfortable.
Negative vibes are contagious and can ruin the mood of an entire event. One person being in a bad mood can influence the mood of the people around them. Having a negative attitude can lead to other passing judgement and wondering about what the cause of the poor form is, rather than simply attributing to chronic pain.
Some painkillers, particularly opiates can lead to mood swings or withdrawal symptoms which can manifest themselves in bad tempers. One option to consider if you are struggling with bad mood swings is CBD. CBD is known to help you deal with both stress and pain. Using CBD to relax and feel more comfortable in social situations could be a great option. CBD patches are a very convenient way to consume CBD and are a discrete manner of taking it. You also don’t have to deal with the bad taste of CBD and only use them once a day so you do not have to worry about taking it a few times through the day.
Loss of Connection
Suffering from a chronic pain condition can lead to see the negative of side of people rather than seeing what you share in common. Jealously can also creep in and this can come to the surface in the form of petty comments or tantrums. This combined with cancelling events or not turning up to birthdays or parties can lead to the assumption that a chronic pain sufferer is not reliable or has lost interest in a friendship. The judgement can then be felt every time you meet making it quite awkward at times. Awkward situations with people you used to feel so close to can make you withdraw and feel lonelier.
The Effect of The Coronavirus Pandemic
Many people who have chronic pain conditions are often categorised as having an auto immune condition too. This means that COVID 19 is particularly dangerous to them. From what the NHS and government advise, the need to isolate and be considerate of where is safe to go is enhanced as the risk is greater. This results in many chronic pain sufferers having to decline invitations to go anywhere and socialise for almost 6 months. This can be very difficult as in their mind it is simply not safe to risk going to any sort of gathering or event.
Support groups can be a great resource for those suffering with a chronic pain condition. Support groups enable you to speak to people who are in a similar predicament as you and it can allow chronic pain sufferers to develop a more intricate understanding of their condition.
UK Fibromyalgia is an example of an organisation that helps people to find people in their area with fibromyalgia to connect and discuss their respective situations.
UK Fibromyalgia has listed the active support groups across the UK on its website. You can also get in touch with them with any questions you have about fibromyalgia or another chronic condition, just email [email protected]
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, is also a very helpful organisation that can help to put people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in touch with support groups or even specialist doctors.
It is always best to let those close to you know how you are feeling and try to calmly express the issues you are having to live with. This will help to maintain healthy and happy relationships and allow those who care about you to garnish a better understanding of your condition. In turn, they should be more understanding and may even actively seek to help you in your daily tribulations.