We all learn to have a façade to hide the pain for various reason in various situations. Here are some http://bit.ly/2EUOYcD We do it to function in the workplace. To make our families no worry about us. To get through the day better. So many reasons. And we all learn these fairly quickly in the chronic pain coping process. Like pain shouldn’t be seen for us. Not publicly. Hell, there is a meme that even says ‘faking happiness when you are in pain shows how strong of a person you are.’ But that one grinds my gears. We shouldn’t have to ‘fake happiness’ for others. But we do mask it for entirely valid reasons as well. Like it helps us cope better to just get through the day not talking or thinking about it so we can be productive as we can be. That ‘facade’ may simply be a stoic face in the face of pain. It may be using humor to get through the workday. It may be any number of things we use to mask the pain to help ourselves function.
And in another sense… over time we lose pain behaviors others expect to see. Because it is our ‘normal’. We have our own pain behaviors that are not so readily recognizable to others. We may lose the obvious ones. Like crying when in pain. Or grimacing. Or other just obvious tells. But we may gain other less obvious ones. When I am in High pain I talk less, smile less, and become very quiet. In fact, I find it hard to even hold a smile. It wavers on my face like my brain knows it is a lie. But in moderate to moderate high pain, it is a lie I use all the time at work because it is customer service. You have to have a facade of well-being in customer service with pain… and a customer service facade anyway. And you get a lot of stigma from your co-workers as a result. They cannot see the pain. Unless there are the more subtle signs that creep in as it gets high: the lack of concentration gets worse, mistakes happen, confusion on things you should know… and things like that that make you look incompetent, but are pain.
And, it makes, chronic pain very invisible.
I wish our words were listened to. And that our own pain behaviors Meant something to people.
However, societies main goal is to have us ‘accept’ and push through the pain. To fit into the normal world even when we cannot. And when we cannot that is when stigma arises. You are lazy. You just want to go on disability and not work. You don’t look ill or not enough. You’re faking it. Because chronic pain is invisible.
All because we wear our pain on the inside.
And I begin to wonder these days what sort of evidence is required to prove pain. To prove disability. To show non-functionality. What level of proof do these people need, I wonder. When the prevailing idea is to get you back to work. Fit you into the norm. Stuff you back in there even if you fail time and time again. Even if you can’t. A system designed to minimize your pain. Designed to poorly treat it as well. All because they cannot definitively prove the intensity at which you suffer. So they doubt it. Question it. Force you to function. Until you become just as invisible as your pain. A fragment of your self reduced to functioning and recovering, with no such thing called a life.