Fighting depression and chronic pain is one of the most courageous things you can ever do.
I remember when I was in the depths of depression. I didn’t even know I was depressed. I raged. I argued with everyone who tried to help me. I lost my job.
How did I overcome depression, and the constant, chronic pain?
The pain is not the injury
I separated the pain from the injury.
Before I continue, let me state that what you are facing is in a way, a good thing. In overcoming this, you build stronger confidence than you ever had. In overcoming this, you build self esteem and strength – you’ll have overcome one of the most terrible mental blows that can happen to a person.
There are many steps to this process, but the most important is recognising that you are suffering from chronic pain and depression. By reading this, you’ve already taken the first step.
So what’s next? What’s the vital ingredient?
Separate yourself from the pain. There is the injury, and there is the pain.
The injury is what happens to you. The pain is what you feel and how you react to it.
A physical example
It’s a simple concept, but can be hard to implement. Let me give an example.
I used to be an amateur boxer, and one day I was sparring one of the toughest guys in the gym. I was a lot bigger than him, and I was hitting him with shot after shot. He kept coming – he wouldn’t give up.
After the session I asked him for his secret. “Simple,” he said, “I just don’t react to it. I acknowledge it, I realise I made a mistake, but that’s it. I don’t feel the pain.”
And that’s it. The pain is still there, but instead of saying “I am in pain”, he thinks “There is pain in me.” It might seem a subtle difference, but it means the world.
Does that mean he’s invincible? No, he’s been knocked out before, but the injury was what stopped him, not the pain. He never quit. And that makes him a winner.
Apply it to chronic emotional pain
The same principle applies to any chronic emotional pain. Why are you in depression?
What are your injuries? Your boyfriend or girlfriend might have dumped you. You have lost your job. A loved one passed away. These injuries are undeniably real. You’d be a monster to be unaffected.
But the pain is talking about it constantly, moaning and complaining far more then is “normal”. The pain is cutting yourself, or using drugs or alcohol to numb the emotions. The pain is losing your confidence and zest for life. These are all within your control. It will be hard at first, but remind yourself that these are two separate things, and it becomes that much more manageable. You won’t fall into depression, and you will no longer suffer from chronic pain.