1. “To anyone living in persistent pain: it is possible to overcome chronic pain. You do not have to learn to live with it, or manage it. You can treat it and change it. No matter how out of reach this may seem, know that it is true. ‘You can if you think you can.’ “
2. “Positive self-talk is to emotional pain as a pain pill is to physical pain.”
This short but very apt quote about the power of how we perceive our pain, comes from self-help writer Edmond Mbiaka.
3. “I don’t believe in pain management anymore, I believe in trying to cure persistent pain.”
From Dr Moskowitz, a doctor turned pain specialist, who became completely free from his own chronic pain.
4. “100% of the time, pain is a construct of the brain.”
5. “Chronic pain is not all about the body, and it’s not all about the brain – it’s everything. Target everything. Take back your life.”
From Stanford’s Sean Mackey, MD, PhD and his lecture “Pain and the Brain”.
6. “Upon getting up each morning, we can reflect on how we can’t be certain if the day will unfold as we think it will and then resolve to greet it nonetheless with curiosity and wisdom. Greeting the day with curiosity means being interested in what each moment has to offer. And greeting it with wisdom means not turning away in aversion from our experience, even if it’s unpleasant and even if it’s not what we had hoped for.”
From Toni Bernhard’s book ‘How to Wake Up’. Toni speaks about her own chronic pain journey and here reflects upon the uncertainty that living with chronic pain can bring.
7. “You can change your brain. This is not wishful thinking, it is science, and we know people can do it even in the most difficult times, when pain is at its most severe.”
From Dr Neil Pearson, a specialist in pain management.
8. “The longer you have pain, the better your spinal cord gets at producing danger messages to the brain, even if there is no danger in the tissue”
Dr. Lorimer Moseley speaks about how our brain and nervous system ‘learns’ to keep producing pain. This brings hope because they can also learn to stop producing pain.
9. “With determination, it is possible to block out the negative things and enjoy the positive ones, despite the cons. Most importantly, it is possible to dance through everything pernicious.”
From the book ‘Determination’ by Sarah Todd Hammer, a story of her own journey with a rare chronic illness.
10. “Healing severe or chronic pain, I believe, includes transforming our relationship to the pain, and, ultimately, it is about transforming our relationship to who we are and to life.”
From Sarah Anne Shockley’s book: ‘The Pain Companion: Practical Tools for Living With & Moving Beyond Chronic Pain’
11. “You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other and you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.”
From Elizabeth Taylor.
12. “I can easily forget that I’m in control of my life and return to feeling like a victim of my chronic pain. I may start asking myself again why this has happened to me, what I did to deserve this, etc. However, one of the gifts of pain recovery has been freedom from victim-thinking. This comes about over time, but it does come.”
From the book ‘Pain Recovery: How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain’.
13. “I believe we must press on while giving ourselves permission to feel disheartened at times. Living with chronic diseases is hard enough–there’s no need to pressure ourselves to be strong all the time. It’s not an easy situation, so it’s OK to feel overwhelmed.”
From Emily Orwell, a biology student at Harvard University
14. “Pain is always accompanied by emotion and meaning so that each pain is unique to the individual. The word pain is used to group together a class of combined sensory-emotional events. The class contains many different types of pain, each of which is a personal, unique experience for the person who suffers.”
From Patrick Wall’s book, ‘Pain: The Science of Suffering’. Patrick Wall was a neuroscientist and pain expert.
While having a positive outlook towards your chronic pain is important, it’s also so important to acknowledge negative feelings and how tough living with chronic pain can be. Sometimes humour can be a great way to do that!
15. “That was exactly what Molly’s arthritis was like: as if some big old cow had got into her house and wouldn’t go away. It just sat there, taking up space in her life and making everything more difficult, mooing loudly from time to time and making cow pies.”
From the book The Last Resort by Alison Lurie.
16. “Laughter truly is medicine. Though this won’t fix everything, finding ways to smile and laugh more will change your body’s chemistry in many positive ways. This is not just distraction: it is an effective way to find some respite from your pain. It’s okay to have fun when you’re in pain. Smiling and laughing may be difficult, but it’s both okay and possible. Keep trying!”
From Dr Neil Pearson, a specialist in pain management.
17. “I remember being able to get up without making sound effects….good times.”
18. “I’m not an early bird or a night owl, I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon”
19. “Some days, I amaze myself. Other days, I put the keys in the fridge.”
This quote references the cognitive fog which often comes alongside chronic pain. Source unknown.
20. “All my spoons must be in the dishwasher.”
This quote (source unknown) references the spoon theory, which you can read more about here.