Chronic Pain and the Self Pity, Depression Trap
If you are someone who is currently in the grieving process because someone you love died within the last five years, some of the tips below by Dr. Trunzo (article: “The Best Life Possible”) about acceptance in regards to chronic health conditions may be useful to you as well in regards to your grief, so please scroll down to read that.
Don’t forget to see my two previous posts about Covert Narcissism, as those posts explain that sometimes, people with Covert Narcissism will either exaggerate or lie about physical or mental health illness to garner sympathy and attention from others, and they often have a “victim mentality.”
In particular, in (Link): this post about Covert Narcissism, scroll down to find the section entitled “The Psychosomatic.” (That section is located about half-way down that page.)
You’ll notice that a lot of the tips and advice in the first article below, which was reviewed by a medical doctor, echo and repeat the same set of tips and advice I have given to (Link): people I’ve known before, people who insist these tips do not work (though some of it worked for me or for other people, in regards to clinical depression), or they dismiss this advice as being nothing but mere “platitudes” or “pep talks,”, or, (Link): some of these people dismiss this type of advice on other grounds.
Recap on my situation:
I was diagnosed with clinical depression by a psychiatrist at a young age, had it verified by three additional psychiatrists as I got into my 30s.
I lived with depression for over 35 years, and largely found my way out of it (on my own), and I can tell you that escaping depression involved doing some of the very things mentioned in the articles below.
Other than lower back pain I’ve dealt with since a teen, I’ve not had chronic physical pain.
Chronic Physical Pain & Mental Health
From my research into the topic of chronic pain and mental health, I’m finding articles by people (some doctors, some lay persons) who live with a chronic pain condition who do talk about the possible slide into self pity, how to avoid it, and how to manage any depression that results from, or accompanies, the pain.
So obviously, things can be done to change here – it’s not as though a person is doomed with no recourse if they live with a physical health problem to necessarily stay in a hopeless, despondent emotional or psychological state (this is also true for physically disabled persons who (Link): must use wheelchairs)
(Link): The best life possible by Joseph Trunzo
Living with chronic illness is hard. But there are psychological techniques that make it possible to thrive even when ill
‘Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.’
John Wooden (1910-2010), NCAA basketball coach
by Joseph Trunzo, professor of psychology at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and a clinical psychologist. He is the author of Living Beyond Lyme: Reclaim Your Life From Lyme Disease and Chronic Illness (2018).
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Before Donna got her diagnosis, she thought of herself as a musician, a busy professional, a volunteer, a mother, a grandmother. After she got her diagnosis – Parkinson’s disease, at age 58 – she thought of herself as a patient.
The time she used to spend engaging in the things that gave her life meaning was eaten up by doctor’s appointments, diagnostic tests and constant monitoring of her symptoms, her energy, her reactions to medication. Her sense of loss was profound and undeniable.
Unfortunately, Donna’s experience is all too common. Heart disease, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, depression, cancer, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease: the list goes on.
I would guess that most people know someone close to them who is suffering from one of these debilitating chronic conditions, if not struggling with a diagnosis themselves.
However, as a clinical psychologist, I see many people trying to navigate the daily vagaries of chronic afflictions. I’ve worked with people who have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, Lyme disease, obesity, all manner of cardiovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, paralysis and many other illnesses.
Naturally, I also see people on a regular basis who are dealing with chronic mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, bipolar disorder and so forth.
The causes of these conditions are varied and multifaceted. The underlying factor for all of them, however, is that, in the absence of a cure, people want to live the best life they possibly can, regardless of their affliction or disability.
While each person and each condition presents its own set of challenges, there are some unifying principles in helping people who are suffering from chronic illnesses to live better, more meaningful lives.
In my practice, I approach these issues from a therapeutic perspective known as acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT (said as the word, not the acronym). I encourage anyone dealing with similar issues to learn about this approach, as it has been helpful to my clients and countless others.
…Generally, living as rich and meaningful a life as possible when you are struggling with a chronic illness requires a great deal of psychological flexibility.
With chronic illness, rigidity in your thinking and behaviour is the greatest barrier to living well with your illness.