Chronic pain is a byproduct of our modern world. In the past, these cases were very rare. But nowadays the number of people with chronic pain is increasing. Some suffer from chronic pain because they have a chronic condition. But others suffer from intense lingering pain for which science has no explanation. The worst part is that in all cases life can become a veritable hell in which pain is constantly present.
Only a few decades ago, serious diseases led to a fairly rapid decline. People died and we couldn’t do anything about it. Today, science has all kinds of ways to extend the life of a critically ill patient. Certain conditions also seem to have gotten worse. Most of these have to do with the nervous system. As a result, people can live sick and in pain for many years.
Physical pain is one of the most common symptoms of many conditions. Sometimes this can make a person very inept in several areas. You cannot escape it and you cannot deny it. Perhaps you try to relieve the pain with painkillers that disconnect you from your body and the outside world. They leave you with the feeling of being there but without being there.
It’s a tragic situation. This is not only true for people who suffer from chronic pain, but also for their loved ones. Because pain seriously affects one’s mood. Over time, it causes significant changes in personality.
A person in these circumstances can become unruly. And the people who are often with them do not know how to help their loved one. Today we want to give you some advice on how to support people with chronic pain.
Recognize your limits if you want to support people with chronic pain
Are you a close relative of a person who suffers from chronic pain? Then it is normal that you start to feel guilty. You may not realize it immediately but it happens often. You see someone suffering. All you can do is provide palliative care. This doesn’t always work. You take some of the strain off the person, but there’s not much you can do about it.
All this leads to a great inner confusion and helplessness. We often cling to the fantasy that ‘there must be something else I can do’. You try something, then something else, and then something else. But in the end, you can only provide temporary relief at best.
The first thing to do is deal with your sense of helplessness. Stop wasting time and energy on things that have no results. It is important that you inform yourself about what you can really do. At the same time, you need to set clear boundaries.
What is your responsibility? How can you do it in the best way? What is within your reach? If you go beyond this, the other person will only turn on you, like a ball you throw against the wall, no matter how much time and energy you invest.
You want to know how you can support someone with chronic pain. Well, sometimes all you can do is be alone and in silence. With this act you let the other know that you are with him and that you are willing to accept his suffering. But what you can’t do is leave.
It may be enough to ask him what you can do to help. If you can do this, then do it. For example, in many cases they would prefer you to spend time with them rather than looking for opportunities or trying to make up for their pain with expensive gifts.
How to support people with chronic pain: help yourself first
We cannot give to another what we do not have ourselves. What we want in this case is to help the people with chronic pain feel better. But what we must avoid is drowning ourselves in their pain. So your first responsibility is towards yourself. And that responsibility means that you are good, that you give the best of yourself.
This means recognizing your own needs. Yes, you can give your loved one a lot. But there are so many things you can’t do for them. That goes for you and everyone else too. But what you can do is make yourself stronger and work on your own life. At the same time, you will also help to improve his life.
It is especially important that you learn how to protect your own space. You have to learn how to say “no” in certain circumstances. Because people with chronic pain can be very demanding. You don’t want their frustrations to become yours.
They are faced with a very difficult situation. Sometimes they have no other outlet than to blame you or demand more than you can give. This is understandable. But it does not mean that their angry words are true.
It will help you a lot if you learn how to recognize when it would be good for yourself to step out of the situation for a while. With kindness and affection, you can make the other person understand that they can help you too by respecting the time when you are not together.
If you want to learn how to support someone with chronic pain, it’s crucial that you take care of yourself. Even if he refuses or tries to direct his frustration on you, your presence and good attitude will help him. You should definitely remember that.