Sunday, September 13, 2015

About Pain: Tethering the Soul to Sanity


Sometimes when pain is unbearable I have to tune out the entire world. The only room in my mind for thought is a floating awareness of my breathing. My goal is to make it to the next moment...and then the next. My hope is that it will end. If I have a mantra it is "this too shall pass" even as my brain screams back "all things pass and the good times will pass into more moments like this." I tend to get depressed with pain. Sometimes the pain lessens enough for me to give myself over to panic or my childlike self. I revert to five year old status when it is terrible enough to think of death. Mostly I think of other's deaths even though mine is more realistic at the time. I feel grief rip through me as if I have already lived through the event. I would say this happens at transition time... the time of pain when it is at an 8 to a ten crossing over into beyond pain.

I have been through childbirth. I know pain but when it is beyond the threshold of sanity, pain is too kind of a description. It takes all my self control to stay in myself and to stay out of the hospital. For I know most times it passes and most times I will feel worse taking any medication. I fight to be.

As pain subsides to a bearable level (perhaps a seven or so) I have to tether my soul to existing. I have to "come back" to the world. Because beyond ten I am floating. I may interact in a way. I am not of the pain yet the pain is consuming. As the pain gradually goes down to normal levels of being in the world I have to find more ways to become my full self again. I begin to do this when it gets back down to a nine out of ten. Then I become the childlike self. If I am silent or screaming I am beyond a nine. Under seven I start to orientate myself. I call this tethering my soul to sanity. Until I am "normal" I will go through  phases of numb to searing. I will find aches in places I did not feel before and my inner wires will feel "crossed." I will question everything in a matter of minutes and philosophize about life (Aspies are capable of many thoughts per minute and our minds race way quicker than the average person is capable of.)

How does one tether a soul to sanity? Some use religion, others use discipline, while still others focus on positive thoughts. For myself, I focus on the very thing that magnifies my pain in the first place- sensory awareness. How ironic that the attribute that can cause me MORE pain is also the attribute that can bring down my threshold of pain or vacant numbness. I may not feel the music I choose but I hear it and it heals ( beyond a seven it makes it worse.) I may not be completely aware of the soft blankets surrounding me, but in some part of my mind I feel the cocoon affect.  My husband's hand on my back can take down pain two levels. I will still be consumed but with his warm hand I concentrate all my power onto that little slice of heaven that is his healthy warmth seeping into my skin. I manage every pain better with a firm but gentle presence or touch yet if my back is rubbed wrong or a light touch administered I can reel up into higher pain digits again.

Images are the most powerful for me. I am an extremely visual person. One glimpse of violence and I can feel like vomiting or put myself exactly into the picture. One glimpse of passion and I will want my husband. A picture of home will comfort me in my darkest moments. Perhaps it is why Pinterest is my favourite social media? I use it to comfort...I pin when my pain levels go below a six. It is my way to begin healing and expressing. I also will look at colours. This is why hospital rooms magnify my pain - there is no reprieve to white. The starkness reminds me of the sterilized empty world of pain. The smells bring back memories and the harshness of the environment encourages the harsh thoughts of decay.

I can tether my soul to sanity by also reaching out to the people who love me. The voices that remind me of who I am and what I am capable of. Softly they listen. I can act five and they won't bring it up when I am 31 once again. My best friend is a person whom I can call anytime. She does not placate but she doesn't downplay it either. She dissects pain and struggle with me. For a logical Aspie brain- this is the best method to calm pain levels of 5 or less down. Her and I will go over potential causes, past experiences, other people's stories, internet research and we will chat through my breathing until I am levelled out. I will hear her war stories and she will witness mine. I feel connected and accepted. I can tell her about my five year old moments. I may not let her witness them. Luckily my only witnesses have ever been my husband, children, doctors (unfortunately) and mother. But she is fine hearing the stories and still respects me as ME. As I slowly recover I reach out to more. My husband is always the first person, then my mother, then my best friend (each one happening as levels get progressively lower) then either a doctor or another good friend, my grandmother and my children. These are all strings that hold me back on the earth until I can put down roots again.

Sometimes I will sleep if the levels are low enough to escape into the sweet bliss. I feel this is a superhuman achievement to level myself off enough to escape. I will concentrate on something sensory like my husband's arm around me or my child's laugh and I will hold it like a beacon, running over and over the fact in my mind, not allowing any other thought in with tenacious control until finally my brain is defeated and it falls into a restless pain riddled sleep. I remind myself I have survived 100 percent of my worst days and while that depressive part of my brain tells me with frank reality that one day that will not be the case, I try to remind myself that life IS. I am seared with the scars of yesterday and the scars throb when the pain comes back. Yet I KNOW that the little moments, the moments when I breathe without gasping, and live without fear or find joy in a cup of tea, or relief in a hot shower are the moments that make life so appealing. The sensory is both pain and joy. If I tether my soul to that sanity- the sanity of the ordinary ( ordinary love from people, ordinary sensory experiences ect.) I will slowly come back to myself.


How do you deal with pain? Either physical or emotional?
Today, when it was all over, and I was back down to a bearable pain level of four- this is the song that popped into my head and I had to honour- I know it's too early for christmas but I have warm christmas memories and this evoked the childlike part of me that was balanced, innocent and joyful:

7 comments:

nyssa said...

I deal with it with music if it's emotional. I will listen to the same song for hours until all the original emotion has changed, and as I change, the song and the tempo of the song changes. it's how i move the whole thing through my body. with physical pain, it's visual, movies that are familiar and I've seen a lot of times, pictures that soothe me or make me feel inspired for when I feel better or well enough to make a change etc. I feel for you. With Chronic Lyme, I know about the pain. That crushing pain, twisting, gripping pain and the breathlessness or heart palpitations etc. right now, I can't breathe again. I was fine for a day, now I need a puffer or I can't walk. So, for me, it's emotional and physical and they play off each other. I feel for you. xox deeply!!!! I hope you have a long spell of feeling better. Long enough that you forget it will come back. I had a full year pain free of lyme. No clue how that happened but it did. I hope the same happens for you. xoxo

Kmarie Audrey said...

I also deal with emotional the same way with music predominantly just like you said!!! I forgot you have Lyme - today I thought it could be also appendix...i never know...and I'm always in debilitating pain for awhile...and you explained it well. Im sorry you can t breathe that is an awful feeling- i know that in a different way from extreme anemia...

thank you:) I hope for that too...this time it was 6 months between the unbearable pain attacks- everything in between has been bad sometimes but manageable...i hope for that. thanks for your love and thoughts!!
xoxoxo.

S said...

I really took notice of how you rated pain from 1 to 10 while you were writing this article, which I am yet to do. Pain has been a constant part of my life -both mental and physical. While in pain, I talk a lot ! My husband is surprised as to how can I talk in pain. I talk ( rather I murmur or blurt out) about philosophical stuffs, about the meaning of life, etc.etc. I tend to philosophize a lot when I am in a bearable state of pain. I also read books when the pain is bearable- particularly mystery thrillers or something of similar genre to forget the pain. When it becomes unbearable I lie down with a blanket over me, try to sleep or just pray with eyes closed. But then too, I would talk irrespective of the fact whether or not someone is listening to me.
Maybe, I am yet to face real unbearable pain- which my parents have already faced in their lives and are still coping. Maybe, I will cry uncontrollably then. But I do not know yet. But I do cry when I am in pain.
In my case too, it is my hubby, then my mom who really can understand and soothe me and comfort me. Sometimes, my mom understands me better than my hubby but both seem to be have very similar mindsets while approaching pain -they are mentally stronger than me and are more resistant to pain and can cope better, if you compare me with them. Sometimes, their immunity towards their own pain, surprises and puzzles me. I am very sensitive, not like them at all. But as I am growing up, I am learning a lot.
Kmarie, thank you for sharing this post with us. Although I can empathize with you and understand what you are going through, I am also feeling sad to hear about your ongoing condition and about the ups and downs that you are going through now... it is an ongoing process, but I hope and pray that you will feel much better and be able to do the things you love, once again.
Yesterday, I watched "Still Alice". Did you watch it ? Although it does not exactly deal with pain as a topic but it addresses certain emotional issues that you have written here...and the different levels of illness ( in case of the protagonist, it was Alzheimer ) and how the family copes with it.
take care,

Anonymous said...

I really took notice of how you rated pain from 1 to 10 while you were writing this article, which I am yet to do. Pain has been a constant part of my life -both mental and physical. While in pain, I talk a lot ! My husband is surprised as to how can I talk in pain. I talk ( rather I murmur or blurt out) about philosophical stuffs, about the meaning of life, etc.etc. I tend to philosophize a lot when I am in a bearable state of pain. I also read books when the pain is bearable- particularly mystery thrillers or something of similar genre to forget the pain. When it becomes unbearable I lie down with a blanket over me, try to sleep or just pray with eyes closed. But then too, I would talk irrespective of the fact whether or not someone is listening to me.
Maybe, I am yet to face real unbearable pain- which my parents have already faced in their lives and are still coping. Maybe, I will cry uncontrollably then. But I do not know yet. But I do cry when I am in pain.
In my case too, it is my hubby, then my mom who really can understand and soothe me and comfort me. Sometimes, my mom understands me better than my hubby but both seem to be have very similar mindsets while approaching pain -they are mentally stronger than me and are more resistant to pain and can cope better, if you compare me with them. Sometimes, their immunity towards their own pain, surprises and puzzles me. I am very sensitive, not like them at all. But as I am growing up, I am learning a lot.
Kmarie, thank you for sharing this post with us. Although I can empathize with you and understand what you are going through, I am also feeling sad to hear about your ongoing condition and about the ups and downs that you are going through now... it is an ongoing process, but I hope and pray that you will feel much better and be able to do the things you love, once again.
Yesterday, I watched "Still Alice". Did you watch it ? Although it does not exactly deal with pain as a topic but it addresses certain emotional issues that you have written here...and the different levels of illness ( in case of the protagonist, it was Alzheimer ) and how the family copes with it.
take care, S

Kmarie Audrey said...

S: I talk a lot too when I am at a certain stage ( not when it gets higher) but when it is enough to really hurt and on my way to being anxious...
I am glad you also have people who can understand you - I am sensitive too and sometimes though I have a really high pain tolerance and then low to sensory things...it depends:)
It is really hard. I have to say no to a lot more of life experiences and it puts a strain on relationships..but those who get it- it is worth it...
I have not seen that movie...it sounds interesting!:)
I hope you are also doing better in your health issues!
xoxo

Ashe said...

Sound. I control myself with sound. Even though sound is what puts me on the brink of overwhelm, overload, and shutdown faster than anything else, and also the sense I struggle with the most since verbal communication often seems so garbled, it's also my best weapon at bringing myself back under control. Music specifically. Instrumentals when I need to get at the deepest and most primal recesses of my emotions, and anything with voices in it when I need to connect with or manage my more "human" emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, and love. Ever since my emotions greatly numbed and lessened with the onset of vile adolescence, it seems music is the only way to feel emotions at the level I used to, and from there also try to redirect any energies pooling up in strange places in my body. Maybe it's the repetitiveness of the notes that anchor me?

My other alternative is my mother. I talk to her to make sense of my thoughts. Verbalizing them when I'm alone don't seem to do the same trick.

If I'm really allowed to indulge, I need physical movement and resistance, like some form of exercise with light weight training.

Kmarie Audrey said...

Yes I use all those things when I need emotional outlets...but when I am in severe physical pain I can not deal with any sort of sound...Only when I am moderate does it help...

When I am in emotional pain I DO use music too and the lyrics get me through....my mother is also accessed a lot or my best friend and husband to verbalize physical pain that is worrisome but only moderate...and my bestie and hubby are for verbalizing emotional stuff. Also if its emotional pain dancing like crazy with my kids or wrestling with hubby ( ha ha) helps!:)