Sometimes you feel like a fly who has just hit a windshield and sometimes you are the windshield. While you would like to always be the windshield, living with chronic pain makes it more difficult. So many of us living with chronic pain think we should always walk around with our chin held high regardless of how much it hurts to hold it up that high. Pity parties are optional or mandatory, whatever your preference. I can just see the Boards of Psychology and Psychiatry shaking their heads in disagreement in response to this last sentence. Unless they live with chronic pain, they have no idea what the emotions of a person living with chronic pain are.
I am generally a pretty tough and upbeat person. However, there are times where RA and FMS gang up on me and turn me into a blubbering mess. How do I respond on those occasions? Sometimes, I will take the stiff-upper lip approach and keep moving and other times, I have a pity party. I go through the “why me?” and “haven’t I been through enough?” routine more often than I would like to. I am not proud of it, but it is part of living with chronic pain. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, I say.
The secret to self-pity is not to let it consume you. Self-pity has taught me to be stronger and to feel sorry for myself less. Life won’t stop simply because I don’t feel well so I don’t always have time for pity parties. The longer I live with RA and FMS, the less pity parties I seem to have. The secret is to look for strength – at least that is my secret. Some nights, it is hard for me to fall asleep because of the pain but regardless, I still have to get up every morning and resume my life – as a mother, a wife, an employee and all the roles I play every day. I push aside the self-pity part of it, and pray or find some other way to preoccupy myself like listen to music until the sleep consumes me. The point is, I find some other way to deal with the pain instead of self-pity because self-pity only makes me feel worse.
Usually, self-pity finds me when I am extremely exhausted. However, the “why me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” routine is exhausting just the same. So, go ahead and feel sorry for yourself if you need to but don’t let it become a pattern. For me, I know when it is coming and I have taught myself that is has to be short and brief.
Here is what I do when I feel my pity-party coming on:
1. I tell myself it is zero tolerance time and I shut self-pity out.
2. I find something else to do to get my mind off the recent pity party.
3. I think about all my blessings and I remind myself that it is not about me. It is about those I love.
Go ahead and throw your pity party if you need to, but hurry up and get it over with.