… the next post I see telling me that mindfulness is the cure for chronic pain, I am going to tear shit down so hard.
I have just had a panic attack over it. A bad one.
Mindfulness is NOT HELPFUL. I have PTSD, DID, depression, depersonalisation, derealisation, chronic pelvic pain, chronic back pain, a horror of hospitals and clinics, and have just read an article about how mindfulness will greatly help me get over these things.
Like, it actually said (no sources, citations or academic evidence anywhere) that it (along with CBT) would help reduce my symptoms. I just…
There is new evidence that anyone who suffers in any way from dissociation should NOT participate in mindfulness. It has, in our experience as a multiple, fucked with our sense of reality so badly that we ended up dissociating worse. It is good enough as a quick fix for stress, but anything more serious than that needs medical attention or psychological attention, depending on what the problem is.
Sitting with the pain and not judging it, allowing it to flow through me, is what mindfulness teaches that I have to do. No, thank you. I do that every damn day and I am unhappy and tired of trying not to judge my pain. I judge the hell out of it. It hurts. It has robbed me of a dance career, a job as a dance teacher, a sports massage therapist and now, I’m unemployed. Why am I not allowed to judge that? Why am I not allowed to have an opinion on that?
That’s other upsetting thing is that you’re supposed to accept your pain, according to mindfulness. Yeah, cool. Nice. So I have to learn to live at pain levels five to seven (eight to ten when I’m on my period) and accept that? I don’t have to keep fighting for chronic illness awareness? I don’t have to keep demanding research into chronic pain, and that it’s properly funded, in the hopes of finding some sort of better treatment?
I accept that I am in pain and that I have a chronic pain condition. I do NOT have to be happy about this. I do not have to reach a “zen stage of acceptance” over this. I acknowledge that I hurt every goddamn day, but why am I supposed to be ok about that? Why am I supposed to be ok with the fact that there is basically no funding going into chronic pain, women’s chronic pain specifically, yet vasectomies get allocated more funding? Why am I supposed to be ok with the fact that I have no real treatment options if my chronic pain isn’t endometriosis (which it is looking like it isn’t)?
Why are the treatment options I am given all mental health ones and not physical? Why am I not offered surgery for agonising pain and instead have to tolerate condescending doctors and articles and members of the public telling me that my pain is in my head? It isn’t. Push on my ovaries and I will scream. The pain isn’t in my head, it’s in my body.
Why do I also have to rule things out when both I and my doctor are fairly certain that the treatment I have to have (pelvic floor therapy) is not going to work? Why do I have to keep telling everyone I talk to in the medical profession that I am in physical, localised pain?
I figured it out after a lot of crying.
It’s because society wants me to take responsibility for my pain and admit it’s my fault.
I didn’t eat enough green veg as a kid. I haven’t run to the moon and back. I haven’t doused myself in kale, tried enough yoga (it also hurts a lot, btw), done enough exercise, had enough psychotherapy, walked it off, wished it away. I have failed because I’m in pain, and it must be my fault, because I’m a woman who dares to speak up about the agony I live in.
There are studies done about this. Women who are rushed to the hospital in agonising pain are told they’re exaggerating, and to please stop it or the doctor will not see you (been told this). Women who want help or advice with chronic pelvic pain are told that the reason they hurt is because they’ve been traumatised. They’re offered no physical help with this apart from the ubiquitous mindfulness drivel. Because of course, as we all know, getting a trauma sufferer to focus on the sensations of a flashback hasn’t ever made anything worse… (Was told to do this once, it backfired into a three hour long panic attack).
When will society stop telling women that their pain is their fault? When will society stop peddling crappy cures for our all-too-real physical pain? When will society stop telling us that the key to alleviating our physical pain is to talk it away through therapy? That’s not going to help.
As someone who’s been through therapy, initially we treated our body pain as body memories. It didn’t go away no matter how much we tried to think of how safe we were, how strong and capable we were, how smart we were and how much we had grown. It stayed, a lacerating feeling inside our womb. No, not our intestines, that one doctor: IBS is over diagnosed in young women instead of endometriosis, because it’s easier to tell someone they don’t know what they’re talking about instead of treating the problem. Trust me when I say that I have wished to be better and wished to dance again more times than we’ve had hot dinners. I want nothing more than to have the body back that I had last year. I don’t think we will ever get that back now.
Please, please, before you post that “mindfulness is awesome??!?!!!!!!!!” stuff, think of what you’re saying to people who cannot practice it. Please stop touting mental therapies as a cure for actual, physical pain. Please stop telling chronic pain patients that their pain is their fault, and they have to accept that and stop talking about it or anything to do with it. Please spend that effort on looking for a cure for us. I’m done with being told there’s no money and no point and I have to live like this. There is a point. There is the money, but it’s being squandered on pamphlets blaming cancer victims for their cancer, or reminding people to stop hoarding medicine, or to stop threatening NHS staff (I’ve been threatened by NHS staff twice).
Please stop making chronic pain patients accept that pain that isn’t their fault will never go away, and we should learn to accept it. Search. For. Answers. Delegate more funds. Please.
Chronic pain warriors out there, stay strong. This system loves you guys.