Grief: Coping Strategies

This post is about how to deal with grief.  I will list what I do personally and what I had my grief support do during my internship.  I personally do the journaling because it is an outlet that I can take with me and I don’t have to share my thoughts or feelings with anyone.  I also draw or read while listening to my favorite music.  When I am really thinking about those that I have lost, I will look at pictures of them and remember the fun times that we had.  Yes I will cry, but tears can be healing.

Coping Strategies

  • Join a support group
  • Journaling
    • A way of expressing your feelings about certain subjects
    • How can you use a journal
      • Writing poetry
      • As a diary
      • Drawing
      • As a letter to the person you lost or for closure depending on the loss.
    • Tips for journaling
      • Keep it simple
      • Keep it private
      • Do it frequently
      • Banish the grammar police
      • Write what you know
      • Find the best time and place
      • Write for quantity, not quality
      • Try writing by hand
      • Keep the stakes low
      • Enjoy yourself
    • Some reasons to keep a journal
      • It brings me clarity.
      • I can weigh the pros and cons without hearing anyone else give their two-cent opinion.
      • It helps me focus.
      • For accountability.
      • It’s a safe place for all my innermost desires.
      • I can yell in my journal and no one will hear me raise my voice.
      • It increases my self-awareness.
      • It reduces stress.
      • It quiets my monkey mind.
      • I can track my own progress.
      • It becomes great source material for articles, programs, Eclasses, etc.
      • It’s a convenient storage location for thoughts, quotes and inspirational messages.
      • For to-do lists.
      • For done lists (I LOVE my done lists!)
      • For achievements.
      • A place to work through my struggles.
      • A place to freely complain and then release.
      • A safe place to face my fears and deal with them head-on.
      • Questions for the universe when I don’t have any answers.
      • It’s my own self-learning guide.
      • It gives me a peace of mind.
      • It’s a dream catcher.
      • It’s a vision illuminator.
      • For answers from the universe when I’m quiet enough to hear my “inner knower”.
      • It’s an idea incubator.
      • It is a judgment-free zone.
  • Other ways of coping
    • Acknowledge the loss.
      • Time alone does not heal.  It is what people do over time that matters.  To facilitate healing, people need to be able to acknowledge their loss, express their feelings, and feel a sense of connection with the person who has died as well as to those in their support group who are still living.
    • Express and share feelings.
      • The period following a loss is very sad and vulnerable time for people who are grieving.  Yet many people coping with grief have expressed that even though it can be painful at times, they also find it comforting to have opportunities to express and share their feelings in a safe and nurturing environment.  This connection provides a source of comfort and strength, thereby creating a foundation for healing to begin.
    • Encourage sharing and offering to listen.
      • We sometimes feel that tears or other expressions of feelings are signs of weakness or a reflection that we are not handling things well.  However, these expressions are a normal and healthy response to loss.  Friends and family can help by being supportive listeners and by encouraging survivors, when they feel ready, to share these heartfelt emotions.
    • Allow for differences in the needs of grieving people.
      • There is no designated timeline for how long the grieving process should last.  There are no “shoulds” with grieving.  It is important that people process and work through their grief in a way that feels comfortable to them.
    • Share memories of loved ones to help in healing.
      • Healing comes not from forgetting, but from remembering those who have died and the special time that were shared.  One way to do this is by creating a special ritual of remembrance, such as candle lighting, to honor and remember loved ones.  Lighting the candle during times of personal reflection or at gatherings with family and friends can help to create a sense of peace and keep the memories of loved ones alive in our hearts.
    • Using spirituality and religion
    • Remembering cultural considerations
  • Make a MEMORY BOX?
    • A memory box (or keepsake box) can mean different things to different people, but essentially it is a place to store your special keepsakes.
    • Most of us are in the habit of keeping memories. They might be photos, special letters we’ve received or mementos of places we’ve visited. As parents we are always collecting keepsakes of our children, whether it’s baby clothes, favourite toys, artwork and so on. No matter what we keep they are all something special to treasure and help us remember moments in time. And as your children grow into adults these treasured items can bring many warm recollections of their childhood past, and something to share with their own children.
    • Memory boxes don’t have to be hard work. For some it is as simple as choosing a box and adding keepsakes regularly. Others may choose to keep separate memory boxes based on themes, like newborn baby, school, birthdays and Christmas.
    • Keeping memory boxes can also help you organize your keepsakes so they don’t get lost in the clutter, making it easier to find items when you wish to share them in the future.
    • Keeping memories is easy. Simply choose a memory box and start filling it today so you can keep your memories safe.

For more information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

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Types and Myths about Grief

In my last blog, I posted about grief, mourning, and bereavement and briefly mentioned the stages of grief.  This blog is about the types of grief and the common myths and misconceptions concerning grief.

Types of Grief

There are several types of grief and they do include the following:

  • Normal Grief refers to the “normal” or typical reactions to loss in individuals at different stages of development.  Normal grief includes the following: Sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, numbness, shock, and even relief (in cases such as the prolonged illness of a loved one or the end of a conflicted relationship) are all feelings that are normal and expectable following a significant loss. Tightness in the chest or throat, lack of energy, and stomach distress are physical (or somatic) sensations that are common in response to loss. Confusion, inability to concentrate or remember details, and auditory or visual experiences that mimic hallucinations – such as seeing an image of the deceased person or hearing their voice – are not uncommon in the weeks or months following loss.Sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, and restlessness are also very common reactions.
  • Cathexis refers to the process of attaching emotionally and is crucial to healthy development since it is through attachments with others that the infant learns to trust and basic needs (food, protection, and love) will be met.
  • Decathexis refers to the process of letting go of an attachment as an adaptive response to loss of a significant “object” (person).
  • Complicated grief or complicated mourning is the difficulty coping with the loss and have prolonged distress long after the loss has occurred.
    • Occurs even when environmental or social support has been strong.
    • It is important to be attuned to this reaction, because counseling may help the grieving individual or family to work through the painful feelings of loss.
    • Four tasks of the mourning process
      • Acceptance of the loss.
      • Experiencing the pain of grief.
      • Adjusting to the new environment without the deceased.
      • Relocating and memorializing the loved one.
    • Delayed grief occurs when a loss is insufficiently mourned, because the loss is not acknowledged or the grief is not supported by others.
    • Masked grief occurs when grief is absent immediately after a loss but appears later in the form of a medical or psychiatric problem.
    • Exaggerated grief occurs when a normal grief reaction, such as depressed mood or anxiousness, goes beyond the normal grief to a clinical level of depression or anxiety.
    • Chronic grief is when the mourner is struck, sometimes for many years, in the grief process.
    • Disenfranchised losses are losses accompanied by stigma resulting in loss of support or acknowledgement for grieving survivors.
    • Anticipatory grief refers to the reactions of people who are dying.
      • Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1997) made major contributions to our understanding of the reactions of dying patients.  She proposed five stages that they go through.
        • Denial
        • Bargaining
        • Anger
        • Sadness
        • Acceptance

 

Myths and Misconceptions of Grief

  • The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
  • It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
  • If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
  • Grief should last about a year.
  • Moving on with your life means you’re forgetting the one you lost.
  • Friends can help by not bringing up the subject.
  • Time heals all wounds
    • Time alone does not heal.  It is what people do over time that matters.  To facilitate healing, people need to be able to acknowledge their loss, express their feelings, and feel a sense of connection with others who care.
  • People find it too painful to talk about their loss.
    • Many people coping with grief have expressed that even though it can be painful at times, they also fine it comforting and healing to have opportunities to express and share their feelings in a safe and nurturing environment.  This connection provides a source of comfort and strength, thereby creating a foundation for healing to begin.
  • Crying indicates that someone is not coping well.
    • We sometimes feel that tears or other expressions of strong emotions are signs of weakness or a reflection that we are not handling things well.  However, these expressions are a normal and healthy response to loss.  Friends and interested others can help by being supportive listeners and by encouraging survivors when they feel ready to share these heartfelt emotions.
  • The grieving process should last about one year.
    • There is no designated timeline for how long the grieving process should last.  There are no absolutes with grieving.  It is important that people process and work through their grief in a way that feels comfortable to them.
  • Quickly putting grieving behind will speed the process of healing.
    • Blocking out or repressing feelings can actually serve as a barrier to healing.  Rushing the grieving process is not effective either.  Others can help by supporting the need to grieve and actively listening to the thoughts and feelings of those who are grieving and sharing memories.

For more information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

Grief:  Introduction to What it is and How to cope with it…

Have you ever lost someone or something?  How did you feel at the time?  Did you get angry, cry, scream, feel guilty for being alive, shame, or just shut down?  Most people think that we can only grieve if someone dies, but this is wrong.  We can grieve if we lose a relationship (divorce or friendship), lose a job, a house or possessions, and an animal.  

During my counseling program I took classes on Grief and Death & Dying so that I could help my clients.  And I even created a Grief Support Group during my internship and that is what I am using for this blog.  Sometimes we confuse grief, mourning, bereavement and I wanted to give you the definitions of these three words so that they can be used in the proper context.  I will cover what grief is, the characteristics of grief, causes, types, and coping strategies.

What is Grief? Mourning? Bereavement?

Grief is the emotional, psychological, and physical reactions to loss, the mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp, sorrow, painful regret or cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.  Mourning is the process of grieving that an individual goes through in adapting to a loss.  Bereavement is described as the state of having experienced a loss through the death of a significant person.

Characteristics of Grief

Some of the characteristics of grief are as follows: somatic (bodily) distress, preoccupation with the image of the deceased, guilt, hostile reactions, loss of patterns of conduct (inability to function as before the loss), and developing traits of the deceased in their own behavior.  Basically, grief include a person’s feelings, physical sensations, cognition, and behaviors.

Every person will deal with grief in their own unique way because of the following: How the bereaved perceives the loss, the age of the bereaved, the age of the person who died, the degree to which the bereaved was prepared for the death, the bereaved’s inner strength and outer resources, and the nature of the relationship with the person who died.

Stages of Grief

These are not in order nor must you just hit it once and you are done with the stage, you can be in each stage multiple times.  Shock and disbelief, developing awareness, restitution, resolving the loss, idealization, and the outcome.

Causes of Grief

There are multiple causes of grief including the following: death; symbolic losses which include: Loss and grief are experienced in reaction to divorce, foster care placement, children leaving home for independent living, unemployment, and changes in health status. Often symbolic losses go unacknowledged by others and therefore the grieving individual does not receive the same kind or amount of support that those grieving a death may receive. Other symbolic losses: Loss of the type of future one imagined for a child if the child is born with, or acquires, a disabling condition; Loss of one’s biological family after adoption; Loss of the family life when divorce occurs; A pet dying; A child starting school for the first time; Going into a nursing home or assisted care facility.

If you or someone you know is dealing with grief seek professional help.  You can email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com for more information.

Bullying: What Is It?

I got the following information from stopbullying.gov.  I choose this topic because a lot of kids, adults are bullied and they decide to end their lives because of it.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious lasting problems.  Adults can be bullies as well, not just kids.

Types of Bullying

There are three types of bullying:

  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm
  • Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
    • Leaving someone out on purpose
    • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    • Spreading rumors about someone
    • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking someone’s things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Other Types of Aggressive Behavior

There are many other types of aggressive behavior that don’t fit the definition of bullying. This does not mean that they are any less serious or require less attention than bullying. Rather, these behaviors require different prevention and response strategies.

Peer Conflict

It is not bullying when two kids with no perceived power imbalance fight, have an argument, or disagree. Conflict resolution or peer mediation may be appropriate for these situations.

Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence is intimate partner violence that occurs between two young people who are, or once were, in a relationship.

Hazing

Hazing is the use of embarrassing and often dangerous or illegal activities by a group to initiate new members.

Gang Violence

There are specialized approaches to addressing violence and aggression within or between gangs.

Harassment

Although bullying and harassment sometimes overlap, not all bullying is harassment and not all harassment is bullying. Under federal civil rights laws, harassment is unwelcome conduct based on a protected class (race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, religion) that is severe, pervasive, or persistent and creates a hostile environment.

Stalking

Stalking is repeated harassing or threatening behavior such as following a person, damaging a person’s property, or making harassing phone calls.

Workplace Bullying

The term bullying is typically used to refer to behavior that occurs between school-aged kids. However, adults can be repeatedly aggressive and use power over each other, too. Adults in the workplace have a number of different laws that apply to them that do not apply to kids.

Early Childhood

Young children may be aggressive and act out when they are angry or don’t get what they want, but this is not bullying.

Young Adults

Behaviors that are traditionally considered bullying among school-aged youth require special attention and different strategies in young adults and college students.

 Young Adults

Behaviors that are traditionally considered bullying among school-aged youth often require new attention and strategies in young adults and college students. Many of these behaviors are considered crimes under state and federal law and may trigger serious consequences after the age of 18.

Is it Bullying?

Although media reports often call unwanted, aggressive behavior among young adults “bullying,” this is not exactly accurate. Many state and federal laws address bullying-like behaviors in this age group under very serious terms, such as hazing, harassment, and stalking. Additionally, most young adults are uncomfortable with the term bullying—they associate it with school-aged children.

How Young Adults Can Get Help

  • Encourage young adults to talk to someone they trust.
  • Determine if the behavior violates campus policies or laws. Review student codes of conduct, state criminal laws, and civil rights laws.
  • Report criminal acts to campus or community law enforcement.
  • Consult the college’s Title IX coordinator to help determine if the behavior is sexual harassment.
  • Many college campuses also have an ombudsperson or similar person who handles a variety of concerns and complaints. He or she can help direct the young adult to appropriate campus resources.
  • Young adults may be reluctant to seek help for cyberbullying, although they do recognize it as a serious issue for their age group. Encourage young adults to report cyberbullying.

What is Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

 Why Cyberbullying is Different

Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.

  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

 Effects of Cyberbullying

Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs
  • Skip school
  • Experience in-person bullying
  • Be unwilling to attend school
  • Receive poor grades
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems

 Frequency of Cyberbullying

The 2014–2015 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.

The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) also indicates that an estimated 16% of high school students were bullied electronically in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Prevent Cyberbullying

Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online

Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
  • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.
  • Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
  • Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.

Establish Rules about Technology Use

  • Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, cell phones, and other technology. For example, be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.
  • Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Once something is posted, it is out of their control whether someone else will forward it.
  • Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Should complete strangers see it? Real friends only? Friends of friends? Think about how people who aren’t friends could use it.
  • Tell kids to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends. Sharing passwords can compromise their control over their online identities and activities.

Understand School Rules

Some schools have developed policies on uses of technology that may affect the child’s online behavior in and out of the classroom. Ask the school if they have developed a policy.

Report Cyberbullying

When cyberbullying happens, it is important to document and report the behavior so it can be addressed.

Steps to Take Immediately

  • Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
  • Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.
  • Block the person who is cyberbullying.

Report Cyberbullying to Online Service Providers

Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers.

  • Review their terms and conditions or rights and responsibilities sections. These describe content that is or is not appropriate.
  • Visit social media safety centers to learn how to block users and change settings to control who can contact you.
  • Report cyberbullying to the social media site so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.  

Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement

When cyberbullying involves these activities it is considered a crime and should be reported to law enforcement:

  • Threats of violence
  • Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos
  • Taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy
  • Stalking and hate crimes

Some states consider other forms of cyberbullying criminal. Consult your state’s laws and law enforcement for additional guidance.

Report Cyberbullying to Schools

  • Cyberbullying can create a disruptive environment at school and is often related to in-person bullying. The school can use the information to help inform prevention and response strategies.

In many states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.

Fall Tips for Mental Health

With the fall season upon us and Halloween around the corner along with the year in holidays I thought I would post some tips to stay healthy this year.  It is hard to believe that 2017 is almBrain Exercise. mental health tips. Brain Character design and iost over we have less than 90 days until 2018.  So some of the tips are:

  1. Value yourself.  Avoid self-criticism.  Make time for your hobbies.
  2. Take care of your body.  Eat healthy. Drink water. Get enough sleep.
  3. Surround yourself with good people.  Strong families or social connections are generally healthier, support groups, or church groups.
  4. Give yourself.  Volunteer your time and energy.
  5. Learn how to deal with stress.  Good coping skills can help with stress management, play with your pets, journal, listen to music, read a book, and most importantly SMILE & LAUGH.
  6. Quiet your mind.  Meditate, practice mindfulness, prayer, do relaxation exercises.
  7. Set realistic goals.  What do you want to achieve academically, professionally, personally.  Write down the steps that need to be done.  Be realistic.
  8. Break up the monotony.  Change of pace.
  9. Avoid alcohol & other drugs.  Alcohol use to a minimum and don’t self-medicate.
  10. Get help when you need it.  Seeking help is a sign of strength, treatment is effective.
  11. Start taking Vitamin D supplements.
  12. Take time for yourself.  Journal to track moods.
  13. Stay active.  Research has shown that physical activity does increase hormones that are in control of feeling good.
  14. Get some books to read or pick out some shows to watch.
  15. Keep a schedule.
  16. Be kind to yourself.

 

There are many more tips I could give, but it is up to you to find what will help keep you mentally healthy this fall.  I felt that the 16 tips above were the ones that would be the most helpful.  If you need someone to talk to please either talk to a trustworthy friend or family member or you could even seek professional help.  Email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com for more information.

The Effects of Chronic Pain

Last week I posted “Lichronic pain 2ving with Chronic Pain” so this week I thought I would let everyone know what the effects of chronic pain are.  And since September is Chronic Pain Awareness Month, I thought about sharing my story and how a counselor can help you with your chronic pain.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in Michigan, I am a mother, daughter, granddaughter, friend, girlfriend, but I am also someone that suffers from chronic pain.  I have my good days and my bad days, days where I can do anything and everything and days where I can barely get out of bed in the mornings or move throughout the day.

I know my that my family rely on me to get up and get things done and work during the week.  And I do get up and move, but slowly.  Let me fill you in on my story of chronic pain.  About 12 years ago, I was a full-time student working part-time in a medical office raising three children.  I have had back issues my whole life, so here I am bending, walking, pushing and pulling carts and my back starts to ache.  I alternate between ice/heat and rest.  I go to urgent care and they give me muscle relaxants since I pulled my muscles.

Fine, go back to work, start a new job and I start to notice that I am having problems walking, my hip is giving out and I eventually lose my job.  I had surgery, still going to school full-time, on pain medications (missed a whole year in my kids lives), barely living.  My pain lessened to the point that it wasn’t really there, but then it came back, I had another procedure and it went away for a minute and now it is back full force.  On the days my back is so bad I can barely walk from my bed to the bathroom let alone take care of the house or anything else that needs to be done.  So what can I do?  I muddle through, beg my kids to help with household chores, beg my mother and fiance to just give me a minute to walk to where they are.  Avoid stairs at all costs, but unfortunately can’t do that as my work is either upstairs or downstairs.

Even getting in and out of my vehicle, bending down, sitting down, walking, rolling over in bed hurts.  I take Tylenol and Aleve for the pain.  With my pain I feel depressed, not good enough, like a failure, like I am doing the best I can and it is not enough.  So I understand how other people that are dealing with pain feel.  Because when you feel depression it can trigger more pain, and it is a vicious cycle.

Some of the effects of Pain can be broken up into two categories: Psychological Vicious Circle and Physical Vicious Cycle and their effects are as follows:

  • Psychological Vicious Circle
    • PAIN
    • Anger, Anxiety, Fear, Distress etc.
    • Impoverished mood
    • DepressionChronic-Pain-Cycle
    • Increased perception of pain
    • PAIN
  • Physical Vicious Circle
    • PAIN
    • Activity avoidance
    • Progressive deconditioning
    • Pain with decreasing activity
    • Further activity avoidance
    • Further deconditioning
    • PAIN

You can see by both circles that it starts and ends with PAIN and it will continue over and over all day and everyday.  Yes, you can take medications that can help ease the pain, but there are side effects of most of the medications: drowsiness, upset stomach, etc.   

How can counseling help with Chronic pain?  Well it can give you someone to talk to without judgment or feeling judged.  Your counselor can give you some strategies to help you manage or retrain your brain if needed.  They can work with your PCP and other physicians to best help you in your situation.  For more information please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.

Living with Chronic Pain

What is Chronic pain?  There are two types of pain: Acute pain is defined as a normal sensation, triggered by the nervous system, alerting you to possible injury and to take care of yourself, and it lasts a few weeks to 3 months.  This pain reqchronic-pain-causes-and-solutions-s20-photo-of-pain-word-collageuires short rest and then ease back into your normal activities. Chronic pain last for more than 3 months and is not from tissue damage but from nerve damage.  Chronic pain has a variety of causes, ranging from an initial injury or an ongoing illness, but there may also be no clear cause.  Because of this, chronic pain can be very hard to treat and can have negative impacts on the patient’s lifestyle.  Many Americans view pain as a misfortune and a sign of weakness.  Therefore, they believe it’s best to just keep going, as the pain should be dealt with by toughing it out.

 

1 in 5 people suffer from chronic pain.  Most common types of chronic pain: 27% low back pain, 15% headache/migraine, 15% neck pain, and 4% facial pain.  Chronic pain is the number one cause of long-term disability in the Unites States.  Women are twice as likely to suffer from severe headaches or migraines and facial pain than men.

7% of persistent lower back pain cases develop into chronic pain.  77% of people report feeling depressed due to their chronic pain.  51% of chronic pain sufferers feel they have little to no control over their pain.  20% of American adults report that pain disrupts their sleep at least a few nights a week.  88% of people with chronic pain say they sometimes feel like a burden asking others for help.  This is the #1 reason they don’t get the help they need…And loved ones DON’T always UNDERSTAND.  39% of family and friends say that their loved one had severe pain in the last week…while actually 73% of people with chronic pain say they had severe pain. And 22% of family and friends say they sometimes doubt their loved one’s pain…while actually 50% of people with chronic pain say family and friends sometimes doubt how bad their pain is.

 

The cost of chronic pain is about $2,000/year.  In the United States, pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560-635 billion annually, or equal to $2,000 for everyone living in the US.  36 million is the number of Americans who miss work due to pain in a single year.  $299-325 billion in lost productivity due to pain, based on factors including days of work missed, hours of work lost and lower wages.

 

According to the Sleep in America poll, approximately 20% of American adults, or 42 million people, report that pain or physical discomfort disrupts their sleep at least a few nights a week.  Nearly two-thirds of people with chronic pain report problems sleeping, which often makes the pain worse; thus resulting in a frustrating cycle of pain and sleeplessness.

Some of the ways to get relief from pain is as follows:

  1. Medication.  Your primary doctor may be able to prescribe something or send you to a pain specialist.
  2. Maintaining positive thoughts and emotions.  YES it is very HARD to do, but it can be done. You may want to see a counselor for assistance.  In my experience, when you are negative or stressed you have more pain and then more stress, it is the never-ending cycle.  You can see a mental health provider to help with managing the anxiety and frustration you feel when you are in pain.
  3. Change your diet and lifestyle.  Keep a record of your daily activities and foods you eat along with your pain level and type.  If you notice a pattern with certain foods you might want to cut it from your diet and the same with your activities.
  4. Maintaining your physical activity.  Again YES it is HARD to do.  If you are in chronic pain the last thing you want to do is move, but if you move you are making the effort to get better.  It used to be if you pulled or strained a muscle you were told to rest and elevate for 2-4 days, now it is rest and elevate 1-2 days and then moderate activity as much as you can stand.

Please if you or someone you love is dealing with chronic pain please seek counseling to help.  If you are not dealing with it but know someone that says they are, please believe them.  Chronic pain is invisible, and if we deal with it 24 hr/day, 7 days/wk, 52 wk/yr, we are going to become good at faking feeling good, but there will be days that we just can’t fake it anymore, so please help your friends and loved ones that are dealing with chronic pain.

If you want to set up a counseling appointment with me please email me at darlacarmoneyllpc@gmail.com.  Thank you