A man attempts to hold an umbrella over a woman who is sad and withdrawn in the rain

Loving Someone with Chronic Pain

Last updated: December 2019

This article was written by Amanda Workman, an advocate on Migraine.com.

This is one of those articles intended for the ones who love those of us in chronic pain, more than those of us in chronic pain. We know that it can sometimes be extremely difficult to love and be with someone who is in chronic pain for many reasons. Unfortunately, we feel the burden of this more than anyone could ever explain to a non-sufferer. This is a large part of why we battle depression in so many cases. Here are some things that can assist someone with loving or being with someone who is in chronic pain.

Learn our tells

Much like poker players, those of us in chronic pain have our own set of tells. These tell signs can vary in so many ways, much like those of a table full of poker players. Tells can be verbal or nonverbal. Some of us change the way we hold our bodies or move certain ways. Some of us become flush in the face, across our chest, and in our arms. Some of us become edgy over absolutely nothing for almost any reason at all and without cause for aggravation. This edginess can come off in pure physical frustrations or verbal assaults on those around us. My dogs have a tendency to get underneath my feet in an attempt to get me to go sit down and be still when my pain levels get too high. That seems to be their best way to intervene when I am pushing too hard. For those who pay close enough attention, our eyes can say more than words ever could express. Being able to recognize these tells can allow loved ones to be able to recognize the pain levels of the individual in chronic pain and even some of the frustrations that may accompany their pain levels. My husband does his best to notice what he can about my behavior and say maybe I need to stop with the chores for the night or he will ask me when was the last time that I took some medication for my pain.

To provide space yet company

There is a fine line between giving an individual in chronic pain space to decompress yet enough company to know they are not alone. I am personally an individual who generally needs that alone time to decompress and to find myself again in everything. Sometimes I simply need to attempt to sleep it off while other times I need to face the situation for what it is and find my inner peace with it all. My husband has become pretty talented at knowing when I need some me time and will take to his hobbies of fishing or turning wood to give me the time I need. On other days, I need my husband and my dogs to curl up with me and hold me tight. We could simply nap or watch something on the television or simply cuddle with me while I cry. Every day can be different. This is determined purely by the intensity of the pain and the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of any pain relief measures.

Working together to manage the impact

We know it is not always easy to love someone who is in chronic pain, especially those of us who are in chronic daily pain. But there are ways to learn to manage to live with us and ultimately helping remind us when we need to take it easy and put ourselves first. It definitely takes time and effort on your end, but it will help both parties out in the long run. This is definitely something that is not solely on you to figure out on your own, ask the individual in chronic pain for their input on the various subject. They may already know some of these things but feel too nervous to bring it up with you.

To those with advanced breast cancer, do you have your own tells? To loved ones, have you noticed any tells in your individual with advanced breast cancer? How do you manage to get through them on bad days?

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