Over the years many of the clients I’ve worked with have struggled with chronic pain or a physical health condition that is not easily treated. Often their struggle is intensified by the judgements of others. Much like mental health, the impacts of “invisible” conditions can be hard to spot and far more complicated than our traditional medical model can treat. Sadly this can lead to misunderstandings and feelings of self-blame and shame. As I’ve explained to clients, reminding yourself that it is not your fault and you are not to blame for your conditions is not an excuse but a powerful buffer against depression. We talk about how our loved ones and doctors are ultimately human and the sense of powerlessness that comes from not knowing how to make someone “better” can trigger anxiety or even anger and blame. It is so hard to see someone we care about suffer. It is threatening when our expertise is questioned by a sensitive constitution that rejects the options available. This fear of blame and the tendency to put others first and not want to be a burden can be a barrier to people who need to feel safe in being honest about their struggles. This can prevent people from getting the help they truly need. Long term struggles with no known cause or cure and a total collapse of one’s way of living can be experienced as traumatic.
It is hard to be the partner or caregiver of someone who sometimes can’t “lift their weight” due to physical or mental health struggles. You have a right to feel frustrated and no doubt overwhelmed at times. In this state, it is so easy to lash out at your loved one but so important to instead to come together to be mad at the situation and ultimately grieve, realizing there is no one to blame. It just is. Indeed, as people move through the stages of grief, there is acceptance. From here we can learn how to support one another and set each other up for success. We can find the possible opportunities or lessons within these struggles and clearly identify what additional support might be needed to adjust to this new norm. When people with chronic pain or a mental or physical illness push themselves too hard, everyone suffers. Thankfully, I’ve seen that through a softening towards self as people learn to work with their bodies and accept their limitations, they are often able to get more done. Always remember, this is not your fault and this is only “for right now”. Tomorrow could be a better day- remission or a complete recovery is always possible but only if we learn to be gentle with ourselves today.
Need a safe place to share? Need a space where you know you will not be judged but instead guided towards identifying and honouring what you need? We are here to help. Walk-in Counselling is usually offered every Thursday 1-7pm. Call (519) 621-5090 Ext. 0 for summer hours and closures.