Chronic pain, but make it worse

Note: this article is mostly informational. if you have chronic pain and are familiar with it, you may already know all of this

Living with chronic pain… Day in, day out. Always. The never-ending cry for help will not shut up, and it can be extremely hard on our brains. Aside from the physical pain, many people also experience depression, anxiety or insomnia, or all of them. This is because chronic pain often grabs all of our attention, leaving little room for anything else.

Pain can be incredibly distracting; it hurts, and it’s always there – right in the forefront of our minds. It’s different than acute pain, usually more dull, but since it is constant, it’s like the pain is slowly chipping away at our sanity (or what’s left of it, anyway)

looking to the horizon… pain… and more pain

There’s some hopelessness to it, isn’t there? The sigh after the usual muscle cramps up, or the uncontrollable wince as your knee threatens to give out, or maybe it’s even less concrete, and it’s just this vague pain in your bones that wears you down.

Chronic pain can be extremely isolating. When you’re in pain, it’s hard to enjoy anything else. You may not want to see people or go out, because you know that all you’ll be doing is enduring the pain, AND you’ll have to fake not being in pain.

Even though you may want to talk about it, it’s difficult to find the words to describe how present and constant it is.

“aren’t you exaggerating a bit?”

Like me, you most likely have a few people around you who don’t quite believe you. It’s such an abstract concept for healthy people, most of them struggle a lot with the idea of constant pain. A lot of people aren’t able to empathize with constant pain if they can’t understand it, either. It’s hard to do anything when you’re in pain, and it’s even harder when people don’t believe you.

While chronic pain is tricky in itself, add in the fact that you’ll deal with doubtful people all around, and we already have a recipe for mental health disaster. But does it end there?

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That’s only the social aspect of it.

Let’s get into the why chronic pain often equates insomnia, depression and anxiety.

First, and probably the easiest, insomnia. Constant pain will almost always interfere with our sleep pattern(or lack thereof) and make it very difficult to fall asleep or remain asleep. On top of that, most of us also have pain flares, which are instances where your usual level of pain is heightened for a certain amount of time (it varies a lot) and that will also contribute to keeping you wide awake.

Second, anxiety. “When is the next pain flare? How will I make it to work tomorrow? Will I be in a good enough shape to drive? Can I fake being well again? I can’t call in sick again, or I won’t be able to pay rent. Should I apply for disability? Now that’s an entire different thing and I can’t spend brain power on this right now…” Over and over again. The pain never ends, therefore the anxiety remains a part of our daily routine forever.

Finally, depression. The more pain, the lower the sleep quality, the more anxiety, the more pain… It’s a vicious cycle and there is no getting out of it, no matter what.

No wonder depression hits us with a bag of bricks.

Now, I’m not saying that nothing will help us, the people with chronic pain. However, it is chronic for a reason; and that reason is that it will never go away. Can we mitigate some of the pain? Take steps to cope with our anxiety? Steps to sleep better at night? Of course, we can. And some of these steps may even actually help!

To get a little more “up close and personal,” I will share with you my personal “Value Pack of Life’s Bullshit”™.

My brand of chronic pain includes my hands and my shoulders, although the shoulder pains have a way of irradiating into my entire back, sometimes(often).


On a good day, I can type on my keyboard, I can play on my phone, I can open most containers and overall manage with any task that requires precision pretty well. I will often be opening and closing my hands as a stretching exercise to “shake out the pain” as I sometimes call it, and I have to make sure to stretch my wrists with some carpal tunnel exercises or I will regret it tomorrow.

Speaking of, while I CAN do most things with a fair amount of success, I also know that a lot of these things will make for a regrettable tomorrow, for example: cooking a full meal, precise/repetitive actions for more than 5 minutes, holding a book to read for more than 30-45 minutes, picking up the dishes to put in our (life-saving) dishwasher and massaging my shoulders to diminish THAT chronic pain…

Sometimes I’ll choose today over tomorrow and do the things. Other times I won’t.

But on a bad day, I can’t type on my keyboard. Holding my phone gives me hand cramps, and I have to ask my partner to open any can, bottle and lid. When the pain is bad, my precision is inexistent, and I must admit that I have dropped objects before due to my hands just giving up. So far I’ve dropped plates(thankfully empty ones only), cans of soda or energy drink(unfortunately mostly full), my phone, pill bottles, books, and quite a few 2L bottles of soda, which thankfully were always closed so far(but unusable for hours after!!).


As for my shoulders, the pain comes from an accident at work over a decade ago(don’t ask me about it, it’s embarrassing) for which I’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of physiotherapy. It’s a tear in my muscle that will never heal properly, and I was told that the surgery available for it has a 50% chance of making the pain worse. Hard pass.

It needs a lot of ergonomic help, such as a proper chair/desk at a specific height, a proper sitting position with my back straight, and multiple exercises daily just to try and keep it somewhat okay.

Over time, i overcompensated my way into hurting BOTH shoulders.

Contrarily to my hand pains, which are not related to a past wound, my shoulder muscles can, and will, get more torn, more hurt, and more problematic. For that, I need to make sure at all times that I don’t make any weird movements, lift anything heavy, that I listen to the bad pain days and don’t overdo it.

So far the main reason for a relapse in shoulder pain is reaching for something out of my reach without moving closer to it first. One would think the lesson would have been learned by now(it has not)

So that’s my cue…

For anyone who is reading this and doesn’t have chronic pain, I sincerely hope this article has helped you understand some of the issues caused by these two types of chronic pain. It has a sort of snowball effect over time: first, it triggers the anxiety, then the constant fear of a pain flare, and the insomnia caused by it becomes too much to work with, and all of this brings in a nice little depression or depressive phase(depends) where all of the above makes us shut down.

For anyone reading who does have chronic pain, I’m sure a lot of this blog post has been easy to relate to. I will make an article about basic things you want to make sure to have with you to help, and I will make sure to post it here. Think of it as a check-list for a person with chronic pain who wants to make sure they have everything they need!

There will also be a blog post about multiple ways to deal with chronic pain, and how useful they have been(to me). Take this review with a grain of salt, considering that everyone is different, but it may also give you ideas you haven’t tried!

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