Some say that chronic pain is “in your head” or “psychological” pain. Your pain is not imaginary pain. Your nervous system is ablaze, which alters the body’s chemistry. Animal research has shown that when your body is full of adrenaline that the speed of nerves conduction increases and you will feel more and more pain. We can observe these chronic pain pattern in the brain with functional MRI scans (fMRI) and researchers are beginning to identify some of the neurological patterns associated with chronic pain. It is also becoming clear that adverse mental and physical sensations are processed in a similar matter resulting in a chemical surgery. Then you feel the anxiety. Anxiety is the pain.
So if you attempt to solve chronic pain with a procedure, there is little chance that it will have a sustained effect. You cannot treat a neurological disorder with a procedure. So patients are bounced around the medical system indefinitely and become discouraged (despondent). I have a term to describe the experience of chronic pain. I call it “The Abyss”. This is the equation:
The Abyss = Anxiety x Anger x Time
Anger drives anxiety and creates irrational neurological circuits. This circuits become ingrained in you. You feel angry and anxious all of the time, and you don’t know how to escape this inner plight. When you take the usual anxiety associated with life and add in the anxiety associated with chronic pain, you can lose control of your life.
You lose control over your happiness, your ability to engage with your career, family, friends, and hobbies. Loss of control = frustration and anger. Think of what you have lost control of:
- Ability to be physically active without limitations
- Ability to enjoy good music, food, hobbies, etc., without the experience being marred by pain
- People do not believe you and often the harder you try to convince your friends, family, peers, employers, and health care providers the less you are believed.
- You are at the mercy of a claims manager who has little medical training and no concept of how your life personally is being affected by the chronic pain.
- You may have undergone a failed operation or series of operations. You are angry at series of events that led you decide to have the surgery as well as the outcome. You cannot go back.
The more legitimate your anger is, the harder it is to let it go. Nonetheless, it will drive your anxiety and soul right into the ground.
No Way Out
Imagine pain, anxiety, and anger multiplied over time. If you can, you’ve got a clear idea of the Abyss. There is a repetition of anxiety, pain, and frustration with no hope of escape. Your soul is being pounded into the ground by a pile driver as you remain in your dismal body. Your life is being systematically destroyed, but in some cruel cosmic joke, you’re alive to bear witness.
It’s ironic that you have achieved what you thought would be a successful and full life. You had not anticipated this possibility of your life being consumed by pain. The dark place that develops in your mind is usually deep. My patients cannot find words to describe the depth of frustration they feel being in the Abyss.
With a specific self-directed structured approach I have witnessed hundreds of patients become free from the grip of pain.