The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Monday, November 2, 2015

5 ways to help someone in chronic pain - emotional and/or physical

Many people are in chronic pain.  This pain may be physical or emotional but it is pain and it is real.  

There's no such thing as a pain meter that can actually tell how much pain the person is experiencing.  I sure wish that there was such a thing because when other people are not feeling the pain themselves they often do not understand.  

For the person experiencing the pain it becomes even more painful to hear comments from others that minimize and/or disregard this pain.  People in pain don't want your advice.  We have already researched everything possible because we don't want to be this way.  We don't want to hear about your pain if it is nothing like ours.  Yes a paper-cut hurts but unless you are dealing with this pain everyday for an extended period of time you really don't understand.  

We know that you are trying to make things better and you feel helpless so here are 5 things you can do and say to someone with chronic pain. 

1.  Validate~  Sometimes all that needs to be said is... "I believe you," "I see how hard you are trying and you are being so strong," and "Thanks for taking some time to talk to me or be with me, I appreciate you spending some of your energy on me."  

2.  Don't ask--DO~ Instead of asking "what can I do" just do something.  A person with chronic pain is used to being ignored when they share their pain and ask for help.  It puts the person in chronic pain on the spot to feeling more helpless by making them come up with ways others can help them.  Instead do something for them they might struggle with doing themselves.  Instead of making them a meal you could give them a gift card for a take-out meal, if they have kids - take them somewhere or transport them to and from places, look around and see what the person isn't able to complete themselves and just step in and help out.  People with chronic pain don't want to impose on others so just help!  

3.  Listen & I mean really LISTEN~  People often say...  "I'm here to listen" but when the person starts to share about their pain, troubles, anxiety, depression... the person doesn't really listen.  The reason is because no one really wants to hear these things.  So if someone starts to share then really listen - use reflective listening. Reflective listening is making sure the other person feels heard and validated.  If you are giving advice or sharing a story about yourself or someone you know that is NOT reflective listening.

4.  Learn all you can~  Learn about the other person's condition.  If you really care about this person you will take the time to research their condition on your own.  The more you know the better support you will be.  You may think you understand about depression and anxiety but you probably really don't know as much as you should.  You also probably don't know much about hidden disabilities/illnesses so do your research.

5.  Remember we often wear a mask~  The smile we wear on our face is there because we need it to function everyday.  It is often there to hide what is really going on.  If a mask is not worn than others don't want to be around us at all and we are not only in pain but now alone and in pain.  Look beyond the mask.  Don't assume that just because we say we are "fine" and wear a smile on our face that we are not in pain. 

Chronic pain is real and wrecks havoc on the mind and body.  It takes a lot of energy to function on a daily basis.  It is exhausting! People in pain don't want to be in pain but they do want to be understood and supported.