If you are caring for a loved one who lives with chronic pain, chances are you’ve learned a thing or two about dealing with chronic pain. It’s also very likely that – over time – you came to have a better understanding of how to help your loved one effectively and efficiently. Today, our Bedford pain and wellness center (location also in Benbrook, TX) specialists are sharing some of that experiential wisdom with those of you who may be new to caregiving (or chronic pain). Read on and remember that you’re not in this alone.
Acknowledge What is Hard
The reality of life with chronic pain is that it is hard. It is hard for the caregiver. It is hard for the person with the chronic pain condition. Pretending that everything is easy doesn’t change that. In fact, the opposite is true: being honest offers everyone the opportunity to experience relief and validation.
We encourage caregivers and those who live with chronic pain to each find a safe space to acknowledge everything that is difficult about their own unique situation. Consider the following options (you may have to try more than one before you find your “fit”):
- A safe relationship where you can honestly and authentically share without judgement
- A support group (more about this in the next point)
- Creative art therapy
- Talk with a pastor, priest, hospital chaplain or other trusted religious advisor
Find Your People
Support groups offer many benefits that help improve quality of life for both caregivers and those living with chronic pain. Within these communities, people can find resources, education, details about research being done on individual conditions, encouragement, events and more. Finding people who understand the struggles of life with chronic pain is critical to maintaining a healthy mindset. Here are some fantastic examples of local, national and virtual support groups:
- S. Pain Foundation: Offer a variety of different state-based and national support groups for caregivers of people with chronic pain, including Spanish-speaking options and a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Color) group.
- The Mighty: A national organization that offers support and community for all types of conditions, including chronic pain, mental health and more.
- Texas Health & Human Services: Local support for caregivers, offering resources and education on a variety of chronic conditions.
- Well Spouse Association: Support group/network specifically dedicated to spousal caregivers
If these examples don’t speak to your unique situation, we encourage you to reach out to CPI’s Bedford doctors accepting new patients (as well as at our Benbrook location) to get more ideas. There are many options that exist, and it can be overwhelming researching them alone. We can help!
Give Yourself Grace
There will be days that you don’t have a good attitude. There will be days that you just want to stay in bed (and maybe you do just that). There will be days when you seriously consider quitting your caregiver role. There will be days when you don’t think you can fight through the pain for one more minute. Give yourself grace instead of guilt in those moments. The last think you need is to feel shame on top of all the other challenges you are facing. Remind yourself that you are human, and you are doing the best you can [and that is enough].
Don’t Give Up
Depression and chronic pain go hand in hand. In fact, research shows that people with chronic pain are at a higher risk of suicidal ideation and attempts. Caregivers also experience an impact on their mental health when caring for patients with chronic pain. It’s important for everyone involved to know where to turn when they feel like giving up.
- Talk with a member of your care team: Your doctors can point you towards helpful therapeutic resources and ensure that your current medications are not adding to your mental stress
- See a therapist or pain psychologist: Caregivers and people with chronic pain can benefit greatly from a supportive mental health provider
- Call 988: 24-hour suicide and crisis hotline (call or text available)
Pain is actually a wide spectrum of disorders including acute pain, chronic pain and cancer pain, and sometimes a combination of more than one. The physicians at CPI have special training in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all different types of pain. CPI offers a scope of services depending on your specific set of needs as a patient. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.