The truth about living with chronic pain
I post photos of myself smiling on Instagram but I never have a pain-free day
5 September 2018
When was the last time you were in pain? Whatever it was – a stubbed toe, sore throat, kidney stones – chances are you recovered. Now, imagine waking up in agony most days, and knowing it probably won’t ever go away.
That’s the reality for up to half of the UK’s population who live with chronic pain. And for many sufferers, life can be even more frustrating when your symptoms are often misunderstood, or worse dismissed because they’re ‘invisible’ to the naked eye.
So, to understand what it’s really like to live in constant pain, be it physical or mental, and to mark September being International Pain Awareness Month, here three people speak out about their conditions and how they try to cope.
“I learned to separate ‘me’ from the illness to manage the pain”
Billie Dee, 28, from London has borderline personality disorder and complex post traumatic stress disorder.
I’ve struggled to regulate my moods for as long as I can remember. My emotions can be so extreme if they’re not constantly managed. I feel everything so strongly. If a friend doesn’t reply to my messages for a day, I’ll think they have abandoned me and I’ll become deeply depressed and dysfunctional. Equally, when I’m excited about a date or achieving something at work, I can get so manic that it frightens people. I live with continuous anxiety, always worrying what will trigger my mood swings.
My parents went through a deeply traumatic divorce when I was five. As a teenager, I would drink a lot of alcohol as a way to cope with my intense emotions. When I started to question whether I had a mental health condition, I talked to my family and friends about getting a diagnosis. But they were worried it would make my life difficult. As in, I wouldn’t be able to get a job and people would judge me. The shame prevented me from getting help. I ended up isolating myself and became trapped in a cycle of self-hate for a long time.