Thanks to all those who joined our Chronic Pain Twitter chat on May 21, 2014. We heard from patients, health care professionals, and readers about their personal stories of living with chronic pain, as well as their insights into the treatments and practices that have helped them. We also reconnected with psychiatrist Tobi Fishel and fibromyalgia patient Jill Clendening, who were interviewed for our May/June cover story, “Inside the Mind of Chronic Pain.” Here are some highlights from the chat below.
Readers shared their experience with meditation for chronic pain:
@motherhenna I certainly notice a diff in my pain levels when I can meditate, but trick is getting myself to do it, calm like, to just start
@motherhenna Once I can stay w breath, maybe loving kindness to my bod, or mudita if lamenting lack of connection w others. But breath first.
@tobifishel yes, compassion meditation is one of the most important aspects, no judgment, welcoming everything with softness and kindness
@JillClendening Guided/body scan meditation is great way to start, but you have to move past pain as you go through & not FOCUS on the pain.
@tobifishel for pain management - the breath is important, longer exhales than inhales, this engages the relaxation response, then compassion
We asked readers whether being told that pain is “mental” makes them feel stigmatized and dismissed, or empowered:
@JillClendening For me, pain IS perception. If I mindfully change how I react/think to pain, I can manage it. Not gone, but not ruining my day!
@leonardkl Dismissed. People look at me and say I look healthy, but it's extremely disruptive to my life.
@motherhenna Being told there are ways to learn new communication w brain - empowered. Told "It's all in your head" - not helpful!
@tobifishel i also don't like that term, it's not in your head, it's in your brain, and we can alter the brain's experience through medit,etc
Jill Clendening shared that her interview with the magazine was actually the first time she’d spoken publicly about her chronic pain! We asked other patients if they’d also had difficulty “coming out” to family and friends:
@motherhenna It's hard to "be out" long term w chronic stuff. It's like grief. Everyone wants you to find closure (which is a myth anyway!)
@leonardkl It's so hard to relate to pain. When I don't have it I nearly forget how bad it is.
@impeschke Pain is like a bully. I wanted to stand up to the bully. Prayer helped me feel empowered to do that.
@Johnp45 Living with pain not in it, is never easy.
Want to learn more? Read our stories on chronic pain, then check out these online resources: