Interventions for Chronic Pain and Illness: Acceptance
Who really wants to accept their chronic pain condition or a chronic illness? You pray every day that a miracle will happen or an amazing drug will be developed to take it all away. You constantly want to control the pain you experience, but this does not work. You may have a great day without suffering from the symptoms of fibromyalgia or a migraine headache and then the next day, you are in bed all day or even for days! It is like you are walking on eggshells with your body. The uncertainty causes more anxiety and depression. You become so depressed, you avoid wanting to get well. Your partner does not understand and they are upset because you both cannot go out to dinner for a romantic evening. Often, I hear, “ I don’t understand my body…one day I am fine and the next day, it is like pure hell.” Partners of the chronic pain/ illness sufferer may feel like a caregiver and are hopeless. Research has proven that avoiding a situation, taking steps from it, or numbing yourself to the feelings brought up by that experience actually makes you mentally averse to the situation. So why is it important to accept your pain? Well… why not? The couple most likely tried everything else. With acceptance, the issue isn’t whether or not the couple can come to some profound insight about the nature of the pain and their experience with the pain, but rather, it is about how to live their life day to day. The ultimate goal is to accept the condition and learn to live well with it. Of course, this is not easy. I watch couples experience this all the time in my practice and then when they finally decide to work as a team instead of opponents or avoiders, there is this sense of hope that emerges. This hope promotes what is possible instead of what is achievable.