I don’t think that they’ve been a result of the severity of my pain, as by all practical purposes it’s been within the range of what I normally experience on any given day. I do think, however, that they’ve been a result of the frequency of my pain, which leads me to more clearly understand something that I might not have understood before: even when pain is chronic, there are definitely times when it’s more chronic than less chronic.
The pain does not need to be at its peak to wear you down (although yes, this alone will often do it.) The cycles only need to be frequent…and by frequent I’m talking about 2-3 times a day. The actual moments don’t last too long, usually between half an hour to an hour…but instead of having an entire day to emotionally recuperate from these episodes, I find myself with only a few hours. I still haven’t recovered from the previous bout of pain before I find myself moving into the next bout of pain. In addition to the physical fatigue, this can also cause a lot of emotional exhaustion.
But at least I’ve recognized this as such…and as usual, the lesson did not come easy. I was actually pushed towards the edge, once again, a couple of days ago when I was riding a bus to the center of town. Within the blink of an eye, my world seemed to turn upside down. I didn’t know where I was, or what I was doing. My mind had, indeed, caved in to the constant pain. I was confused, and I was frightened. Nothing seemed familiar to me, except my breath. So I grabbed on to that, and just as quickly as I had plunged into the confusion, I was back to where I was just seconds before. I knew who I was, I knew what I was doing, and I knew exactly what was going on.
My mind was tired.
And even though I haven’t experienced these feeling for years, they still evoke a sense of familiarity. Last time I was in this phase, though, I just continued to get more and more confused. I couldn’t understand why my mind seemed to be turning against me, why it wouldn’t just push through the pain like the rest of my body seemed to be able to do.
I had another one of these episodes of confusion yesterday…but instead of getting scared, I told myself to just try to experience what was going on. If my mind didn’t want to respond as readily as I was used to it doing, so be it. Let it roam…but in a manner in which I could guarantee that I was safe. So I powered up my word processor, and started putting some of my thoughts (as confused as they were) down on paper. I’ve since gone back and read it a couple of times, and I’ll admit it doesn’t make too much sense…but at least during those few minutes, when the pain was it’s worse and my thoughts seemed to be spinning out of control, I did have a connection that I could grab on to.
I don’t know when these episodes will pass, but at least I have some additional confidence, something to grab on to, when it just plain out feels like I’m losing my mind. And most importantly, I’m talking about these feelings, instead of keeping them secret.
My mind is indeed tired from the pain. I’ll continue to give it as much rest as it needs, and I know that I’ll soon be better.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!