Perspective, priorities, and progress.
They are all connected for the chronic pain sufferer and can affect us both positively and negatively. The powerful thing about this dynamic is that unlike many things we are enduring, we can make a choice.
Your perspective is how you view yourself in relation to your condition.
Are you blaming yourself, whether logically or illogically for your pain? Many people think, “If only I hadn’t done this, or that, things would be different.”
I did this myself in the beginning, actually having dreams about saying no to replacing the caps on my front teeth. Saying no to the endodontist who cracked the root, the oral surgeon who did an unsuccessful apicoectomy, the antibiotics I had to take…oh Lord, it goes on and on.
You Can Stop that. It does nothing other than make you feel bad, regretful, and perhaps even a little ashamed, and none of that is truly yours or helpful in any way. We all did what seemed like the right thing at the time and considering BMS is a neuropathic pain syndrome with no sure cause or cure, I think that will always be the case.
Are you depressed because you are depressed? Chronic pain impacts our lives, our relationships, and our bodies in ways that science has not fully explored or explained. Are you disappointed in yourself for being depressed because you have been in pain for so long?
You Can Stop that. Do something about it, whether it is professional counseling, having a discussion with your doctor about antidepressants, acupuncture, massage, or whatever else allows you to feel you are caring for yourself. Consider reaching outside of yourself and actively doing something for someone else. Many have found that is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to lessen their depression. There is something about helping others that stimulates the pleasure centers of our brains, makes us feel better about ourselves, and with regular application, can even make us better people.
Do you make your self-care a priority?
Many of us don’t. Women can be particularly guilty of this as they may work, run a home, and are often the primary caregivers of both their children and their parents, but men are not to be let off the hook! Both genders can put their self-care routines on hold or never even start them because they feel like too much is going on at work or in the family, and they fail to make it a priority. If you don’t take the time to fill your cup, you will have none left in it to share with others. This is doubly true for chronic pain sufferers and we must care for ourselves so that we are able to care for others. Visit the Burning Mouth Support website for more great ideas about coping strategies and self-care.
Make your doctor appointments and other self-care practices a priority. Plan your other activities and responsibilities around them. They are that important.
Do you feel like you are making progress?
This is such a hard question for chronic pain sufferers. When I consider it personally, I can only say that finding a medicine that takes the edge off the burning has allowed me to coexist with my pain. Is that progress?
I think it is.
In my life, there is good work that has been done, deep conversations that have been had, and precious love expressed that might not have been if I were still thrashing around, looking desperately for something that helped. Your progress may be something different, but I submit that unless you are keeping a record of your pain and looking at it from time to time, you may not notice progress even if it happens. If you haven’t been keeping a pain diary, consider starting one now. You may discover patterns where something has actually helped, but you missed it. Something may be a trigger, but because you have no record over time, you didn’t notice it. Be sure you are keeping track of medicines you try and whether they helped or were just waystations along your journey. I was recently accepted into a migraine medicine trial because I had kept good records of all of the medicines I have tried in my eighteen years of migraines. You never know when you may benefit from the knowledge you are collecting.
Wishing you the best.