One of the most difficult things about relentless pain is that by never getting a break from it, you never get a chance to regroup your defenses.  It just continuously gnaws at you until you think you can’t take it anymore.  The most peculiar thing though, is that if you find something that really captures your attention, you may get that break you’ve been praying for.

Chronic pain wears us down.  Finding a way to survive can be very difficult.  But by giving up, you allow it to move in and own you.  What can you do to fight back?  The answer to that is anything and everything.

By that, I mean you must keep trying to find ways to relieve your pain.  One of the most impressive quotes I’ve heard, which I believe is credited to Albert Einstein, is, paraphrased, “stop doing the same thing and hoping to get a different result.”  If you want to find an answer, you have to keep looking and try different things until you find something that works.

For some people diversion works.  Watch a movie that makes you laugh and draws you in.  Try massage; it can release tension and toxins and leave you feeling better.  If that doesn’t work, look at some other alternative treatments like acupuncture or acupressure, music or art therapy.  Dogs can be helpful in some cases, again, either by diverting your attention or by providing you with some affection or fun antics.  Prayer has been proven to be helpful too.

Whatever course of action you take, take some action!  Don’t just sit there and wallow in it, that won’t help.  Don’t let your pain get the upper hand.  Remember that there are people who handle the same level of pain you do and more every day and if they can get through it, you can.  Focus on living rather than on how badly you hurt.  When all is said and done, at least you can say you lived life today rather than was swallowed up by the pain; and sometimes, that the best we can do.


Part 1.

For veterans suffering with PTSD, avoidance behaviors are often paired with emotional numbing.  Both are coping mechanisms used to reduce the discomfort brought on by the emotional trauma causing the PTSD.  By avoiding the emotional triggers that bring on unwanted memories, we hope to avoid the trauma that goes with it.

Avoidance behaviors may include:

  • Trying to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event.
  • Trying an effort to avoid places or people that evoke memories of the traumatic event.
  • Difficulty remembering important parts of the traumatic event.
  • A loss of interest in activities that used to be important to us.
  • Feeling distant and separated from others (on the outside looking in).
  • Feeling we don’t deserve happiness or love.

Unfortunately, avoidance behaviors do not lead to healthy relationships.  They only prolong pain.

You may try to avoid talking about intimate subjects with your spouse or other family members.  You may refuse to attend family functions like holiday celebrations or other important events.  While these behaviors may help reduce your anxiety, in the long run they damage your relationship with family and friends.  Avoidance of emotions may even make some PTSD symptoms worse; trying to suppress emotion often blows up on us.  It has a nasty habit of popping out in other areas of our lives.

Avoiding strong emotion requires a great deal of energy and it becomes quite an energy drain on you.  Because avoided emotions tend to grow stronger, the amount of effort needed to keep things under control continues to increase.  This may leave you with little energy left over for other important things, such as family and friends.  Using so much energy to avoid emotions may lead to frustration and irritation, leaving you on edge and angry.