Educate Your Family and Friends
Share articles, videos, brochures, and other medical resources about your condition. Show the known science behind your condition and the unknowns researchers are trying to figure out. In the same vein, share literature of medications and other effective treatments and what to expect. The more hard facts someone has, the more “real” the condition becomes.
Create Empathy Through Shared Stories
Support groups, blogs, and informational websites are available to help people like you cope with chronic pain and the obstacles it creates for daily life. This is the empathetic side to the medical documentation on your condition. Among articles sharing advice and medical news, you will find first-hand accounts of how other pain patients are managing their conditions amidst a job and family. These shared experiences can open your family and friends to a new world.
Become Your Own Advocate at Work
Nine out of 10 employees suffering from chronic pain continue to go to their jobs despite their conditions, even though 46 percent report their pain interferes with the job. While the motivation is admirable, you must take care of your health to do your job well. Keep a constant dialogue going with your HR team and manager. Let them know about your condition and the types of accommodations you need, such as leaving your desk to take walks or the ability to retreat to a quiet area to clear your mind.
Offer a Demonstration
Ask someone who has trouble comprehending chronic pain to attach a clothespin to his or her finger for a day. As the pain intensifies over time and becomes uncomfortable, ask the person to imagine never being able to remove that clothespin. Ask them to imagine how that would feel day after day, every month, and every year. Sometimes medicine or an unknown factor provides temporary relief, but that constant pain is the new normal. That sore finger gives a small clue into what you’re dealing with.
Ultimately, helping others understand your circumstances will help improve your quality of life. It will lessen the stress and frustration you must face when someone doesn’t get it, and those people around you will become more accommodating when you need it. Any small improvement in pain management is a worthwhile step forward.