Do you suffer from chronic pain or fatigue due to illness or injury?
Is the pain or fatigue so bad that you find yourself simply trying to get through the day instead of fully living your life?
Are you so on edge from the pain, or exhausted from battling illness, that you often find yourself in a bad mood and at times lash out?
Are you tired of talking about your pain or illness and find yourself feeling isolated and suffering alone?
If you or someone you love is experiencing some or all of these challenges, you know first hand just how extremely difficult and debilitating chronic pain and or fatigue can be. To some, it can feel as if the very fiber of your being were being tested on a daily basis. If the condition is degenerative and there is no known successful treatment, the suffering is multiplied. Simply managing your condition and your pain, without the hope of someday getting better, can be utterly exhausting.
Why Don’t They Get It?
What is often as equally frustrating as having a chronic condition, is how little some physicians understand about the psychological effects. These can include such things as hopelessness, questioning one’s identity and purpose, depression, and feeling utterly drained from the immense stress of the daily struggle. Also, since most doctors have little psychological training and severe time constraints from heavy caseloads, they often are unable to sit down with a patient, really get to know them, and connect on an emotional level. This can result in a lack of adequate support for a chronic pain and illness patient. Furthermore, sometimes if a doctor cannot find a clear physical reason for the pain he or she might imply “It’s all in your head,” which can increase the psychological and emotional distress by causing the patient to question if their condition is “real” or not. This is the bad news.
Help is Available
The good news is that there is expert support available in the form of chronic pain specific counseling. There are also things you can do right now to begin transforming the psychological suffering of chronic pain. Counseling can, in a relatively short amount of time, begin to transform much of the psychological pain and suffering of a chronic condition. Sometimes this also translates into the experience of reduced physical pain.
You Do Not Need to Suffer Alone
A chronic condition can also make you feel very isolated. It can seem as if the rest of the world got it easy and for some reason you were left out of the party. This can lead to blaming yourself, feeling punished, lonely, and disconnected from other human beings.
Though you may feel alone in your pain, you actually are not. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, there are currently 100 million sufferers of chronic pain in the U.S. alone! This is over four times that of diabetes, the next most common condition in the U.S. It can be heartening simply to know just how many chronic pain sufferers are out there, probably struggling with many of the same challenges and feelings just as alone as you are.
Common Concerns & Questions
Can psychotherapy help my physical pain as well?
I have found that a decrease in psychological suffering often leads to a decrease in physical suffering. This is not because “the pain is all in your head,” but because in situations of chronic pain a feedback loop is created where the physical symptoms create psychological symptoms, which in turn make the physical ones worse. When you begin to reverse this feedback loop through counseling astounding changes can, and do, take place.
Is therapy expensive? I already spend a lot of money on healthcare
I charge $125 per 55-minute per counseling session and offer several sliding scale spots on a need basis. There is no guarantee that your physical symptoms will lessen, though they can. However, experiencing psychological and emotional relief can change everything. It is important to ask yourself, “What it would be worth to have some of my old self back?” That person who could truly enjoy life and regularly experienced simple joys and peace of mind.
What exactly will we be doing in therapy?
Though you are a part of a group of people 100 million strong, you are also unique. The road that brought you to where you are is yours and yours alone. Because of this, your experience in therapy will be unique to you. One common method I use as a counselor for working with chronic pain or fatigue is The Psychology of Symptoms, ” . . . a dynamic body-centered process that helps you embody ways of being that are more balanced and afford you the opportunity to secure getting your emotional needs met.” As a result dramatic changes can occur in your physiology, and oftentimes within the very first session you can begin to experience relief.
My Own Journey with Chronic Pain and Illness
Chronic illness, pain, and fatigue have all had a tremendous impact on my life. Since an early age I have had chronic and mysterious gastrointestinal problems. In my early twenties I began to suffer from intense fatigue and chronic tendon pain in my arms and hips. Years later I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which I now deal with on a daily basis.
My mother was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which she struggled with for seven years before miraculously overcoming it, only to go into kidney failure a few short years later. In the nine years that she struggled with kidney failure and dementia I spent a lot of time taking care of her. In this time I was able to see that somehow she was learning and growing immensely, even in the midst of all the suffering, and that miraculously she seemed to be a happier person each and every day.
I am still amazed at how my mother walked the path of her chronic illness. It inspires me everyday to treat my own chronic condition as a path for discovery instead of simply a burden. Needless to say, working with chronic conditions has been a long standing passion of mine, which I have both studied and applied extensively. However, more than any book, class, or seminar, my time with my mother during her illness influences my work as a counselor and helps me to bring more kindness and compassion to each session.
Now is the Time for Healing
Though perhaps you have been living with chronic pain for many years, it is never too late to begin to reverse the cycle. Your suffering can be eased and old wounds can be healed. I encourage you to take action and reach out.
Though support groups are very helpful and I do recommend them to most, nothing can replace the personal one-on-one support of a therapist. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation, or have any questions, please click the CONTACT tab to do so. Your initial consultation is 100% risk free, meaning that you have the opportunity to meet me and see if you feel that both, psychotherapy is right for you and we are a good fit. If you choose not to continue you will not be billed for the consultation.
If you would like more resources in the area of working with chronic pain and illness please check out the related articles at the top right of the page as well as the links and resources section. I also welcome any questions or concerns and will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.
I wish you all the best on your journey towards healing,
Dan Entmacher MA, LPC