What do we do when our chronic pain collides with our mental health? We can assume it is going to happen. We can’t avoid it. So what do we do?
Although the topic of mental health is often an underlying feature in many of my posts, I am ready to dig a bit deeper. I am planning a series of posts focusing on some of the various ways in which mental and physical health intersect.
So, where am I coming from as I write these posts? And what will make them different from other information you might find on this subject? I hope to offer a unique perspective that you may not find elsewhere.
I, as you know, struggle with chronic pain and have an underlying, first-hand knowledge of the experience of chronic pain. I know what it is like. My viewpoint of chronic pain is not from a detached, clinical mindset, but from the perspective of a personal, visceral experience. And because I have felt chronic pain, lived with chronic pain, and spent a lot of time thinking about chronic pain, this overarching theme in my life will naturally flow into this series.
Secondly, I am a licensed and professional counselor, allowing me to also come from an outside-looking-in perspective on the subject of mental health. While my personal experience keeps me from becoming detached on the subject, my professional knowledge allows me to be objective and forces me to consider material that may be difficult to swallow as someone who also struggles with chronic pain. My experience working with others who struggle with chronic health issues has allowed me to objectively see some of the blind spots many of us with chronic pain are unaware of that add to our experience of suffering.
Thirdly, although I am a licensed counselor, I currently practice and draw my theoretical orientation from biblical and Christian methods of counseling. I believe that Scripture gives clear direction on how to live and what to do when our physical bodies fail, our minds and thoughts begin to falter, and our strength to get through the day begins to fade. The few Christian resources on chronic pain that I have found tend to be theologically correct but truly miss the person and experience of those who suffer from chronic pain. I hope to offer truth that is not only doctrinally sound but also meets those who suffer chronic pain right where they are in the midst of their experience.
Within this combination of personal experience, professional knowledge, and Christian perspective, I hope to offer a unique contribution to this discussion of chronic pain and mental health.
I have plans to address a variety of potential issues such as:
- grief and loss
- sleep disturbances
- traumatic experiences
- somatization, malingering, Munchhausen syndrome, and all those “it’s your fault” type of words
- when and how to find counseling and psychiatric services.
The truth of the matter is that chronic pain will always have some kind of effect on our mental health. Moderate to severe chronic pain over months and years will inevitably begin to affect our mood, cognition, emotions, and behaviors.
This change cannot be avoided, but it can be redirected. Chronic pain will inevitably change us, but it must not inevitably change us for the worse. My hope is to recognize the ways in which chronic pain begins to tear us down physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, with the hopes of reorienting us on a new trajectory towards a new growing experience in which we will emerge even healthier on the other side.
I have a variety of topics in mind, but I would also love to hear from you. What questions do you have? What topics would be most helpful for me to address? What have you always wanted to ask a counselor about your chronic pain but just never had the chance? If you have any questions related in any way to chronic pain, mental health or counseling feel free to fill out the form below and I will answer your question in a blog post while leaving you and your name anonymous.