Loving Someone with Chronic Pain

Loving Someone with Chronic Pain

This is one of those articles intended for the ones who love those of us in chronic pain, more than those of us in chronic pain. We know that it can sometimes be extremely difficult to love and be with someone who is in chronic pain for many reasons. Unfortunately we feel the burden of this more than anyone could ever explain to a non-sufferer. This is a large part of why we battle depression in so many cases. Here are some things that can assist someone with loving or being with someone who is in chronic pain.

Learn our tells

Much like poker players, those of us in chronic pain have our own set of tells. These tell signs can vary in so many ways, much like those of a table full of poker players. Tells can be verbal or nonverbal. Some of us change the way we hold our body or move certain ways. Some of us become flush in the face, across our chest, and in our arms. Some of us become edgy over absolutely nothing for almost any reason at all and without cause for aggravation. This edginess can come off in pure physical frustrations or verbal assaults on those around us. My dogs have a tendency to get underneath my feet in an attempt to get me to go sit down and be still when my pain levels get too high. That seems to be their best way to intervene when I am pushing too hard. For those who pay close enough attention, our eyes can say more than words ever could express. Being able to recognize these tells can allow loved ones to be able to recognize the pain levels of the individual in chronic pain and even some of the frustrations that may accompany their pain levels. My husband does his best to notice what he can about my behavior and say maybe I need to stop with the chores for the night or he will ask me when was the last time that I took some medication for my pain.

To provide space yet company

There is a fine line between giving an individual in chronic pain space to decompress yet enough company to know they are not alone. I am personally an individual who generally needs that alone time to decompress and to find myself again in everything. Sometimes I simply need to attempt to sleep it off while other times I need to face the situation for what it is and find my inner peace with it all. My husband has become pretty talented at knowing when I need some me time and will take to his hobbies of fishing or turning wood to give me the time I need. On other days, I need my husband and my dogs to curl up with me and hold me tight. We could simply nap or watch something on the television or simply cuddle with me while I cry. Every day can be different. This is determined purely by the intensity of the pain and the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of any pain relief measures.

Working together to manage the impact

We know it is not always easy to love someone who is in chronic pain, especially those of us who are in chronic daily pain. But there are ways to learn to manage living with us and ultimately helping remind us when we need take it easy and put ourselves first. It definitely takes time and effort on your end, but it will help both parties out in the long run. This is definitely something that is not solely on you to figure out on your own, ask the individual in chronic pain for their input on the various subjects. They may already know some of these things but feel too nervous to bring it up with you.

To those with migraine, do you have your own tells? To loved ones, have you noticed any tells in your individual with migraine? How do you manage to get through them on bad days?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (16)
  • ddnben
    1 year ago

    I think it’s taking me a long time to realize that my hostility towards people (including my spouse) is a tell for my migraines. Usually they would just hit me but things have changed and sometimes my taste will change or I’ll smell something. But I look back on my most recent migraines and have realized that I think after, why in the world did I get so upset? Because I had a migraine coming on and didn’t recognize it. I’m trying to learn to work with that.

  • Steven Workman moderator
    1 year ago

    It can be difficult to tell sometimes when a migraine is coming. It would be so much simpler if there were only a handful of triggers. Unfortunately, there are so many triggers and varying symptoms to go with them, that it can be difficult to tell even for a seasoned migraine sufferer. Anger and hostility are not uncommon. My wife gets snappy from time to time from the pain before she realizes what is causing it. Learning to work with understanding your triggers, symptoms and/or behavioral changes that occur is just about all we can do. Just take things a day at a time and do the best you can do. I wish you all the best in learning to recognize your tells in the future.
    Steven Workman (contributor, moderator)

  • GaryKim
    1 year ago

    My boyfriend suffers from chronic daily severe migraines from L5–L9 pain; we have a long distance relationship at the moment; he lives in the US and I live in England. I visit him every few months and we video message when his pain allows.

    I can tell the level of pain he is in from his facial expressions, attitude and when he needs to rest.

    My problem, is that I find it easy to support him at his home, medical appointments etc. with love, cuddles, record keeping and advice and he shows gratitude but when I return to England, I try to support him through video messaging and he gets angry and says that I’m suffocating him when I offer advice; he shuts down on me and ignores me for days. I love him very much. What am I doing wrong??

  • cindilou3
    10 months ago

    Don’t give himbany advice. Period. He knows whatvto do. Not beinf rude but you have no idea what he is goung theough. I hate when someonevwho knows norhing about migraines including my hysbands teies to tell me what to do. Just let him know tour sorry he’s in pain and ask him if there is anything you can do to help.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    I do not think you are doing anything wrong. Sometimes when we are in pain, it’s hard to not lash out at our loved ones. When you’re are there with him, it is probably easier on him because he physically has your support at an arms reach. When your out of the country, he may feel the impact of the pain and loneliness combined. Unfortunately this can come out as aggression at times. We definitely don’t intend to do so but sometimes it does happen.
    Amanda Workman

  • pollymorris
    1 year ago

    I do the same thing. I am forever on my smart phone or doing something to distract myself. Just sitting without a distraction of some kind is excruciating. Very difficult (actually almost impossible) to make others understand this. Combine chronic pain with depression and you get a very bad state of mind….

  • arden
    1 year ago

    It seems the hardest thing to remember is that when crabby or ugly things come out of the mouth of the one in pain, that it is the pain talking and not the person we love or the person we would like to be. So the effort must be to not be offended when the pain is taking over or not be too ashamed when our own pain causes us to be less than ideal.It takes a truly strong person to always ride above the waves of pain and be pleasant to those around them. But more importantly we need compassion when this does not happen and we are not at our best because of pain.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    You are very correct. In my household we both have conditions that occasionally make us basically grumpy. And it does take you having to take a deep breath and remind yourself that they are in pain or whatever it may be and to not get mad at them when you are the target so to say of the frustration.
    Amanda Workman

  • John1381
    1 year ago

    Excellent, a timely topic. My wife has noticed recently that if there is really bad migraine brewing I will start making lists of things I need to get done and then get upset that I can’t fit everything in and will often burst into tears. She often says ‘you are listing again, time to slow down’ (not a luxury for everyone of course).

    Regards,

    John.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    Sounds like you have a very good wife. Sometimes we have to be reminded to slow dow, or to stop and take it easy. We do need to remember to remind them that we appreciate them.
    Amanda Workman (moderator and contributor)

  • aurohra
    1 year ago

    I definitely have tells! The most obvious is my left eyelid droops and my pupils dilate. I might start saying or writing things that don’t make sense like mixing numbers into words. So my resolution this year is “don’t take it the wrong way” when my husband is trying to stop me from over doing it. Deep down I know he just wants to help even though my stubborn personality hears “that’s too hard for you”. He doesn’t mean I can’t do it…just that I’ll hurt myself if I do.

  • Steven Workman moderator
    11 months ago

    Your position is understandable. My wife is extremely stubborn as well and struggles with this too. Sometimes I am the one trying to slow her down or stop her, but she does this to herself as well. She gets a task in her mind that she wants to complete and will push herself well beyond her pain limit for the day to try and finish before she will admit to herself that she needs to take a break. It can be a challenge when you already have a specific set of priorities in your mind and a routine of completing them on your own to ask for or accept any help.
    Steven Workman (moderator)

  • Steven Workman moderator
    1 year ago

    That can be difficult to hear for a driven person. In your mind you have all these things that you want to accomplish in a day, but in the end, pain is in charge. Pushing through can make things even worse. It sounds like your husband tries to keep your best interests at heart. Its great that he is supportive and understands when you need to rest. Try to remember that at the end of the day, all you can do, is all you can do. Chronic pain is taxing on your energy levels and your focus. Sometimes, you have to be willing to hand over the reigns to someone else and let yourself rest.
    Steven Workman (contributor, moderator)

  • Steven Workman moderator
    1 year ago

    That can be difficult to hear for a driven person. In your mind you have all these things that you want to accomplish in a day, but in the end, pain is in charge. Pushing through can make things even worse. It sounds like your husband tries to keep your best interests at heart. Its great that he is supportive and understands when you need to rest. Try to remember that at the end of the day, all you can do, is all you can do. Chronic pain is taxing on your energy levels and your focus. Sometimes, you have to be willing to hand over the reigns to someone else and let yourself rest.
    Steven Workman (contributor, moderator)

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    That is a very good resolution! My dogs honestly will get up under my feet while I’m attempting to do things around the house until I sit down and let my body rest. It’s rare, but sometimes my husband will do like your husband. I know my husband definitely doesn’t do it to be ugly. I would say, your husband is caring for you. If you find the phrase “that’s too hard for you” insulting or too hard to hear, maybe have a conversation with your husband about using a different phrase. Open communication is definitely the best thing for us and it’s definitely a very good thing that you have been able to see / learn why he had his concerns when he does.
    Amanda Workman

  • aurohra
    1 year ago

    Oh and my advice to the parters suffering with us would be for them to say the following, “Honey, I know you’re strong enough to finish your project or meet your commitment. I just don’t want you to cause yourself unnecessary pain. Maybe we can come up with a compromise.”

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