My story and experience of chronic pain

A little bit about me, I recently turned 27. I have a 7 year old son (most of the time he thinks he’s 12) and a loving supportive boyfriend!

I love horse riding, for me it is my escape and makes me feel happy. When I am feeling low or quite anxious even just spending time with horses makes me feel calm. 

Last May we became homeowners, it came with all sorts of emotions, excitement and stress mainly! We soon realised that our house was more of a project than we originally thought. 

To add to the stress and this is the main reason for writing this blog is that I sustained a whiplash injury in June 2019 that still affects me to this day. 

It was a Monday, I went to work like normal except, it turned out to be a different day, a day that has impacted my life for nearly a year so far. I suffer with daily headaches and neck pain, sometimes it worsens and the pain is severe, so severe it’s crippling. I haven’t slept properly since that day, I haven’t felt normal since that day. Chronic pain is debilitating, waking up every morning either already in pain or waiting to be in pain. I have really bad mood swings and have felt so low and depressed that some mornings I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. I have really positive days where I feel motivated and try and complete some daily tasks just to feel like I’ve accomplished something, other days I just want to stay in pyjamas and do nothing. I don’t want to talk to people and I don’t want to leave the house. The main thing that has kept me going throughout all of this is my son, he gave me a reason to have to get up every morning to take him to school and wherever else he needed to be like parties and weekend activities. 

This injury has affected not only my life, but my son and partner’s life. I have mood swings like I’ve never had before depending on my pain and lack of sleep. I have good days but sometimes I have bad days. Everyday I have to get up and try and get on with life, pretending that everything is ok, the trouble is, it isn’t ok. I struggle daily, from the pain, from money stresses, high levels of anxiety, fatigue and low moods. My family struggle because they don’t know which mum/girlfriend they are going to get, I obviously try and hide the pain from my son as much as possible but he knows something isn’t right when I can’t play with him in the park like I used to, or play catch properly if the pain isn’t to bad, it sure lets me know it’s still around if i dare over do it (overdoing it could literally be putting some washing in the washing machine or brushing my hair) things you wouldn’t even think take much energy or effort. Well this is not the case in my life. My partner has been super supportive, I was suffering so much with the pain etc that I guess I didn’t really think how it might be affecting him, it’s not until a few months ago I learned that it has been really hard on him, more than I realised. The fact he is unable to get rid of the pain for me or at least help in some way, the stresses of our financial situation, my mood swings, lack of motivation, not wanting to go out of the house. 

I don’t feel like me anymore, I try so hard to get back to the old outgoing me, the me that didn’t suffer with chronic pain, the mum that could take her son to the park and push him  on the swings for longer than a minute. When I could shower and dry my hair pain free and without help. The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the idea. I have to pretend daily that I am not in pain, the frustrating thing is when I do something and I get comments like how is your neck? oh are you feeling better now? or what will you do about work?. 

No I am not feeling better, but I like to try and be normal and do stuff even if it hurts because I am beyond fed up of the debilitating feeling I go through daily. Feeling like I have to explain myself because people are so quick to judge when someone has chronic pain or an invisible disability why you are able to do certain things and not others. I have not just suffered physically, my mental health has been affected massively. Higher levels of anxiety, feeling depressed, feeling like a burden or like I’m failing as a mum because I am not the active mum anymore who was always capable of keeping up with my son like I used to. It is possible I have ptsd due to the injury, which would make sense, I jump at sudden noises, even a cupboard door shutting or I am shopping and someone gets a bit too close to pick something up from the shelf and there is me just freaking out, then I realise I am food shopping and they are just trying to get a tin of beans. 

I have attended many doctors and hospital appointments to be told it will get better with rest, I rested then I attempted work which resulted me in overdoing it, suffering for weeks, feeling like I could try again after resting, going back to work overdoing it then being off again for a few weeks, until finally I decided that this was not good for me or work and resulted in being signed off work completely, rather than working part time and amended duties. 

I have tried going to physiotherapy, acupuncture, seeing a chiropractor, a few different medicines which left me feeling very odd and spaced out. A tens machine which occasionally eases the pain but it soon comes back and often it doesn’t budge. 

I recently (finally after 10 months) was given an MRI but awaiting results. I think with this type of injury it is hard, there isn’t much anyone can do to help in my circumstance it seems. This could be a forever thing and that upsets me a lot, but I have survived this long, so I will continue to take each day as it comes and try and be as positive as I can be.

The reason I wrote this is because I struggle daily and I know that there are others out there that suffer! We may be suffering for different reasons and some maybe worse than others but we are all suffering and we are not alone. I feel that writing it down makes me feel relieved that I have opened up and told my story. I struggled to open up about my feelings and admit that I was struggling with life but as soon as I did I felt like a weight had been lifted. It is hard to open up, it is hard to admit that you are not always as strong as you pretend to be, but the thing is, we are only human. We are allowed to feel and it is ok not to be ok.