How I Expressed Myself

It is really important when you are going through something as traumatic as this to find an outlet and a way to express yourself. I had always been good at art, but that year I really became dependent on my art. I was always drawing -- things I saw, things I thought, and things I felt. It always made me feel so good to draw out how I felt. Even now, I'm still always drawing and showing everyone how I feel through my art.

MY TIPS

There is a huge link between pain and mood because when our brain senses pain, our natural reaction is to get upset or distressed. Likewise, when someone dealing with chronic pain is feeling troubled or disturbed, it is not uncommon that they start to feel pain; possibly putting them in a worse mood. It is a cruel cycle that goes back and forth, causing your pain to increase and your mood to decrease.

I found that keeping a positive and open mind helped me stop the progression of pain and bad mood. As silly as it seems, being happy and laughing with friends can help relieve pain, as you might have noticed. Do things you have fun doing, like spending time with friends or family, listening to music, playing board games, or anything else you enjoy.

When we feel our pain, some of our natural reactions are to get anxious or to tense up. We also miss out on a lot of things when we are in pain, like going to school, playing sports, or hanging out with friends. Next time you're in pain, try to take time to notice what you are doing and what you are not doing, to better understand how you feel when you are in pain.

My biggest advice to someone going through chronic pain is, no matter what, do not stop your normal activities completely. That can result in depression and unhappiness. If you are in pain and are not feeling up to doing your regular routine, two alternative options are to pace yourself (doing things in short intervals and taking rests) or to substitute easier activities. An example of substituting would be if someone likes running, maybe go for a walk instead. That is much less strenuous, but also something you enjoy.

If you had to drop out of school, continue seeing your friends on a daily basis. If you had to stop playing sports, continue to go to some practices and games to support your team. That way you are still involved.

Stay positive and work hard and you will get better in time. In my opinion, that is the most frustrating part of chronic pain, not knowing when you will get better. If you break your leg, the doctor puts a cast on it and says it will heal in four weeks. With this illness, you never know when it will end, so it is very easy to get down on yourself at times. Use the support of your family and friends. Also use the resources available, such as the various therapies and treatments.

You are not alone in this, even if it may seem that way. Many teens are going through the exact same thing that you are, also probably feeling alone -- I know I was. It is so painful watching all your friends living their lives without a care in the world while you are stuck in bed not feeling well, but you will get through it and be a stronger person because of this experience.