Chronic Pain & Chronic Illness
Pain and illness highlight the mind-body connection
If you’ve ever been sick or injured in any way, no matter how small, you are aware that the way you feel physically affects the way you feel emotionally.
When you have chronic pain or chronic illness, the impact is far greater.
And it works the other way around, too. Difficulties in your emotional or relational life can also lead to physical problems. Stress, anxiety, depression and trauma are among the concerns that lead to long-term physical and medical effects.
Understanding that every thought and every feeling has matching brain chemistry and physiological responses can help you to understand how physical and mental health are deeply interconnected.
Feeling isolated and depleted
Itis common for people who suffer from chronic pain or illness to feel misunderstood or not taken seriously by others, from family and friends to medical providers. The symptoms can be complex, hard to pinpoint, or don’t seem to relate to a clear problem or diagnosis. This is a big frustration that you may feel if you have chronic pain or illness.
Chronic pain and chronic illness also zap your energy, leaving you feeling heavy or spread thin and unsure about how to get help or support even if you really want it. It can be difficult to advocate for yourself, and the frustration of other people not getting it makes it harder.
It is also difficult to invest in your life activities – work, friends, family – when so much of your energy goes to managing your condition. It’s common to feel the sting of social isolation or the guilt of not contributing enough or needing “special attention.”
Feelings of confusion, loss, and grief
It can be easy for chronic pain or illness to dominate your sense of yourself, affect your relationships, and ooze their way into every aspect of your life. Symptoms and the preoccupation with medical health combined with the efforts of hiding your condition from others can make it feel like you ARE you pain or illness.
It can be easy to lose sight of yourself, what you feel good about, or the positive resources that can help you cope or heal.
When you suffer from chronic pain or illness, whether it is something that can be resolved over time or something you need to make a more permanent adjustment to, you face a lot of changes. There may be grief relating to the losses that go along with it, whether they are related to your physical abilities, your sense of who you are, your work life, or other interests.
How we help: Discovering what is under the pain or illness
Chronic pain or illness live in your body, of course, but so do health and well-being. We believe in a principle called organicity, which means that all people have an innate drive toward health and wholeness. Even if it is buried, we believe it’s in there and that our job is to help you connect to it.
We don’t treat physical ailments in the way a medical professional does. But we do treat the whole person. And this means that when you come to us with chronic pain or chronic illness, we take it seriously. Our primary concern is helping you to connect to the resources that can help you not only cope with your experience better, but move beyond that.
We want you to experience increased tolerance for your experience, a greater sense of ease, and the ability to really be connected to yourself underneath the symptoms that might otherwise drag you down. We want you to feel like YOU.
As you discover more options for coping with the stress of your condition, you may also gradually experience a reduction of your symptoms.
Mindfulness, mind-body awareness, and creative approaches in therapy can help you get a little distance from the pain or the illness and create some space in which you can connect to your underlying resources, feel more connected to yourself, and be able to find more joy, pleasure, and fulfillment in the things that are meaningful to you.
If you struggle with chronic pain or illness and feel like we might be a good fit to work with you, we’d love to talk with you about how we can help you live with more ease and joy.