I know many of you will disagree with these words, and that’s okay. We each have to find our own way through this journey of chronic pain and illness.

However, I do want to share a little bit of knowledge that I have learned on this long, 27-year journey of pain.

We can give up, we can crawl within ourselves and hide away from the world, we can find ourselves consumed by the darkness that is depression. None of these choices can be made by anyone other than ourselves.

We live with chronic pain and illness, but we are still the same person inside we always were. We have to work hard to find ourselves within, because the pain likes to hide who we once were. The pain likes to make us think we are weak, we are lost, we are unable to have a fulfilling life.

The pain is an entity of itself: it lives, it breathes, it grows, it harbors the darkness and storms that make 100-year storms look like spring showers.

Pain has one goal to take over the person’s life completely, and to stop that person from living life. It has power, and a lot of power. I will not sugar coat that fact, however, we do have the power to beat it back, to push it back, to take ownership of our bodies once again. It isn’t easy, in fact it may be the hardest thing you will do in your lifetime, but it can be done. It should be done.

Will you always be able to be in full control of the pain? No!

There will be minutes, hours, days, and even weeks when the pain will gather up all its strength and fight back with everything it’s got.  You will be pushed down, and Pain will win that battle, but that is okay. It may win more than one battle, but you will win the war in the end because you are strong…you are a mighty fighter…you will take control back, and you will survive, and be stronger for the next battle.

The question you are thinking is, how in the world can I do this? How can I fight when I hurt so bad? For the most part, you feel powerless over the pain, you feel like it owns you; but it only owns you if you let it. I know your eyes just got big, and you may be saying a few nasty words under your breath at me right now, but give me a chance to explain. Keep reading please.

We have two choices in this life of pain. We fight or we don’t fight. It is as simple as that. We make the choice to sit or lay down, to give up or fight like hell!

We choose to like the attention our caregivers give us, so we don’t try. We continue to say that the pain hurts, or we can say… not today pain, I want to clean my house. I want to play with my kids or grandkids. I will live life on my terms — not yours.

If you are like me and choose to fight, then once you start, no matter how bad the pain may get, no matter how much every fiber in your body hurts, we never, ever stop fighting! Once we stop, the pain wins. It grabs hold and refuses to allow us to regain the strength to fight back. There will be times when you have to step back and regroup. Do it: rest, regroup,  get your battle plan in place. As soon as the rest period is done, get up, get out, and fight again!

How do you fight back? You just do it.

Develop the mindset that you will refuse to let the pain own you – to win.  Force yourself to get up and move, put one foot in front of the other, even if it is baby steps, move forward.

You fight, you cry, you scream and even mutter a few curse words from time to time. And that’s okay.

Before you know it, you are in charge of your life again. You are living life again.

One thing is certain —- we are going to hurt whether we sit, lay down, stay at home, or go out. So, why not get up and go out? Why not go out with friends or family? Why not do what we want to do? The pain isn’t going anywhere. The sweet thing that I have found is when I force myself to go and then the pain relents a little bit. It is shocked that I am out with friends or family, and it doesn’t know how to react when I live my life on my terms, not it’s terms.

The most important thing I can share is that when I do force myself to live life, to go out and to have fun, I find that the distraction alone is a wonderful pain tamer. Distraction takes my mind off of me and the pain and it allows me to do what I want to do.

Surround yourself with positive things and positive people. Things and people that will encourage you to get up and move. Find people that will encourage you to fight back after a knock back from the pain. Positivity is a big piece in winning!

I’ll share one more thing about my journey because I think it is important that you hear it. 27 years ago, when I was first diagnosised, in my early 20’s, I was told that the progressive form of my diagnosis meant I would find myself unable to walk by the time I was in my early to mid-40’s. That was the reality of my medical professionals. I chose my own reality and today, 27 years later, I am about to celebrate my 55th t birthday. I am still walking on those same legs, every day. You see, sometimes we have to take control and when we do, we are in charge of our own destiny and our future.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how slow you go — as long as you are moving forward and you do not stop!

Fight the pain! Roar loud and clear, I will take my life back!

My best to each of you, I am your biggest cheerleader, now let me hear you roar!

TPC Community Member and Advocate

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