When I think about my own personal relationship with daily pain, I can break it down into a very simple metaphor. My pain is a toddler at the supermarket throwing a complete tantrum in the busiest aisle of the store. Now, we’ve all seen something like this at least once, a parent frantically trying to finish their shopping, while simultaneously attempting to reason with a screaming child… It often doesn’t work. We’ve all had a moment where we walk past that parent, give them a sympathetic smile and continue on our merry way; forever thankful that it wasn’t us who had to deal with the mutiny in aisle six. But that parent was left feeling embarrassed and frustrated.
How does this relate to chronic pain? You can’t control it, and like that toddler from aisle six, sometimes it’s hard to figure out why it’s manageable some days and not others. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, but that doesn’t negate the frustration that pain can bring. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it, and no way is better than others, just different. I personally don’t take medication for my pain; I handle it using a mix of creativity and mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about being self-aware and taking the time to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. That screaming child in aisle six was definitely causing a scene, and I’m sure every parent who has experienced this has asked themselves at one point or another, “why are they behaving like this? What is going on?” Through being mindful, I’ve learned the importance of listening to my body, and I use meditation to allow my pain to have a voice for a while. I give it the space it needs in order to release some of the tension in my muscles, usually right before going to sleep to end the day as peacefully as possible.
I find that being able to create through music or writing allows me to express myself through art, as a way to handle my frustration towards my body’s lack of cooperation. I struggle with feeling limited by cerebral palsy at times, but when I’m working on a new song, poem, blog or script, I’m able to work through the pain and focus on my craft. Now, sometimes my disability gets what it wants, just like a child having a tantrum. As a parent, you are often able to reason with your child about their behaviour, but sometimes in necessary moments, a parent may choose to compromise more than normal in order to diffuse the situation.
My relationship with pain is a work in progress, but I feel that it is important to touch on the fact that I work with it, not against it. Through the power of art and the ability to create, I’m able to work through the challenging days and shift my attention to the tasks at hand. I often wonder what my work would be like without the pain in my life. I believe that everyone has the ability to be creative, purely based on the fact that we all have different perspectives and bring something new to the table. So, would I change anything about my disability? Do I wish I didn’t have to deal with it? Sometimes. But in truth, I see it as an opportunity. Cerebral palsy has given me the gift of perspective, the chance to see the world in a different light than others do. I was always taught that the best art makes people think, ask questions and feel something. How do you feel now? What questions did this raise for you, and what are you going to do about them?
Want to know what I would do?