3 Mental and Spiritual Ways to Cope With a Pain Flare

When you’re stuck in a pain flare, it’s hard to envision the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are some small (albeit unorthodox) ways you can keep your head above the pain for perhaps a little while.

I’m keeping this list short due to the nature of pain flares. Some of you might be frustrated with all the multitudes of things you think you have to try to get out of a pain flare. I will tell you that some of these might help for only some of you, but these are generally good practices. There are no magic wands to make pain flares go away, but there are ways to make us feel more comfortable.

Why I’m Using Spiritual and Psychological Techniques

Generally, pain flares affect your mood, and your mood affects your pain flare. It’s like a dog chasing its tail that catches it and devours itself. Without cultivating positivity, escaping your pain flare is postponed.

Using Your Mind and Spirit to Escape a Pain Flare

  1. Write down (or tell Siri) 3 things your grateful for.

Each day you’re in a pain flare, take out your journal, your phone’s notepad app, a video or voice recording app, or if you can’t move, tell Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant 3 things you’re grateful for. Pain flares are tiring, and 3 is all you need right now. No need for pages of gratitude to cultivate it.

2. Read your favorite book with a character you relate to the most. Let yourself cry.

If you relate the most to Jane Eyre and her suffering, read it. Relate to how tragic her life is. Throw a pity party and sob. You need the emotional release, but above all else, you need to relate to someone on an intimate, internal, mental level. Your friends may not understand, but you can make a fictional character understand.

3. Connect to a higher power.

This can be your version of God, the Buddha, Jesus, or the Universe. Connect with the energy around you with meditation, prayer, bed yoga (you can find videos on YouTube), coloring mandalas on your phone, or reading holy texts. Knowing there is something bigger than you gives you the peace that you are taken care of and that the pain flare will go away.

This is a little list, and I wanted to keep it small – pain flares can be overwhelming, and someone on the internet screaming at you to do 12 things might make you upset because you can’t get out of bed. You’re most likely phone surfing from your bed. But pain is cyclical, and this too will pass. Hugs to you.

The Safe Man

I’m going to be writing about trauma therapy and marriage again today, because that’s my life right now. This is not a Whiner McBabypants post where I talk about my specific trauma, rather, these are my reflections on life, love, and marriage as a disabled woman.

You know when you just feel sad, and you just want to be sad? Your husband will cook dinner, do the dishes and watch romcoms with you but you don’t want any of it, you want to feel your own pain?

When I look back on my former life as an able-bodied model, I would call myself ungrateful. This lack of gratitude drug into my life as a disabled person, and later as a disabled married person.

Part of this led to walls-up mode. Most people think I wear my heart on my sleeve, but really this is an act of pushing people away by oversharing. If someone really wanted my honest opinion, they’d probably have to cross Jurassic Antartica with added volcanoes to get it.

I finally revealed this to my husband today, with the caveat that for most of my life, I didn’t think people were safe. But when I put his wedding band on his finger, I marked him as someone who was safe. It was my job to get out of Jurassic Antartica and place him in the sunnier meadows of my mind so I could hear him out, and ultimately communicate with him.

I really don’t have anyone or anything I’m more grateful for than him. He finished building a 4 ft tall aromatherapy garden for me today. It’s that tall so I don’t hurt myself by bending over.

Remember, learning to love is just as hard as accepting it!

List of all the ways I’ve been loved TODAY

When a person comes around to recognize their blessings, they need to record them. It’s like taking photographs of favorite destinations, making a collage, and displaying it teenager-style like your soul anthem on your bedroom wall. There, your memories wait for you each time you go to sleep.

I’ve been suffering on multiple fronts lately and I want to acknowledge the ways people have loved me TODAY, even if it was part of their job description:

  • The librarian who showed me Convenience Store Woman, recommended it to me, and had a conversation about it with me after she noted how much I read in a short amount of time. Thank you for your book love that is a part of your job description but still needed.
  • Sayaka Murata, for writing Convenience Store Woman, so that I could find it today and laugh my ass off when I asked the librarian for the happiest book in the library
  • Bear, for buying me books, queso, and enchiladas. Money can’t buy you love but they can buy you comfort. Thank you for loving me in this dimension today.
  • Bear, who shows genuine love and concern by answering all of my phone calls at work despite our current living situation, who truly does care, and won’t let me forget it. Thank you for loving me genuinely and unconditionally.
  • Bear’s friend, who was asked by Bear to check up on me, and did even though she didn’t have to. Thank you for being a friend of Bear and consequently, of mine, even if you may have gotten more than you bargained for.
  • My friends, for periodically checking on me, texting and calling throughout my day.
  • Random person on roll20 who noticed my distress at being unable to dungeon my dragons, thanks for reaching out to a freaked out person going through a DBT skills breakdown.
  • Mom, for driving me to DBT and the library because the doctors say I can’t drive right now.
  • Mom and dad, for driving me to meet Bear tonight for our date.
  • Dad, for trying to fix the record player so I could experience vinyl and not rely on digital technology to listen to music.
  • Indoor plumbing, for giving me a hot shower and a soaking bath. You do you man!
  • Me, for taking time out of my day to try to learn some new ukulele songs, devote time to music when I haven’t in years, and feed my brain. Learning to love you too boo.

Feel free to share ways that you felt loved TODAY in the comments! I would love to feel the love, and I’m sure you would too!

Recording the Moment

When you feel happiness, it’s just as important to write it down as sadness.

Sometimes we’re all too tempted to stand out in the rain and put it down as inkblots on a page than let the sunlight bathe our journals in warmth.

Life as newlyweds has been uncharacteristically hard for Bear and I. We have both been grieving my illnesses. It can be hard to forget that my sickness is just as hard as him as it is on me. But Bear is a strong and mighty bear, and he fights for me. He may not fight in all the ways I thought he would, but he does so much more than I expected.

In the morning before I wake up, he kisses me. While my hair is still crazy and he changes out the coffee filter for me as I’m standing in my completely unsexy pajamas half awake, he worships me. From my head to my toes he caresses me, telling me how beautiful I am, how smart I am – this translates to me, how worthy I am to be on this planet even though I can’t do all those wife things and we’ve only just started. In the corner of my eye I notice a dozen of red roses, one of my favorite flowers, on the kitchen table he bought for me last week.

There’s a bag of oatmeal in a recyclable bag on our white Formica countertop in our lovely sea-foam green newlywed kitchen he claims he bought for me but he picked out himself. The large bay windows over the breakfast table bathe us in pure morning light as we flirt with each other.

Moments like these make me realize that life may be full of pain and anger, but it’s also full of love and hidden rainbows at 7am. If I’m going to live fully, not just survive, I need to continually take mental photographs.