Transcript: Pain and Thoughts
Yeah well, when pain persists and nothing seems to help it gets very frustrating.
It's hard for the patient to understand why.
Um… We're brought up to believe that if you get a pain you go to the doctor and they give you something and it goes away.
And when this doesn't happen and you try lots of things then you do start to wonder.
And sometimes the doctor might say "Well look, I think you're going to have to learn to live with this.
"The trouble is they don't usually tell you how.
And people try lots of things but at the end of the day there's really no cure once pain becomes chronic.
And that's a very hard thing to accept.
Um… none of us can really accept having to live with pain, so the fact that you get… frustrated and depressed is not surprising.
Um… but it is something that you have to face up to.
It's a reality that pain can persist and it doesn't mean you're imagining it.
It's a real thing.
I was depressed because of everything, Like if… I was depressed not only because I had pain and I couldn't control it.
I was depressed because I had to stop working, I had to stop my job that I loved.
I was depressed because I didn't get out as much as I wanted to.
I was depressed because I was eating so much then I got depressed because I was putting on weight.
I was depressed because of expectations that were on me of being a religious sister that I should be different.
I was depressed because I couldn't do the things I loved doing.
I was depressed because I felt as though I was losing control of my grip on… on who I was.
Um… and all those things are… really difficult.
One is bad enough but someone with chronic pain experiences all those things.
The good news is there are actually lots of things you can do.
Um… there's no magic unfortunately.
Um… we would love to be able to get rid of the pain but at the moment we can't honestly say we can do that.
But instead we can teach you some strategies that we've tested with thousands of people that we know that if you practice these things they will help you to manage.
They don't take your pain away but they can reduce your pain and they can make life more livable.
In fact more bearable and in fact more meaningful.
Now this is exactly the same as anyone else with a chronic disease like asthma or diabetes, there's no drug or fix for them either.
There are drugs they can use, but they've got to do a lot of things too.
Well some of the most helpful self management techniques or strategies that we use regularly and we teach our patients are things like self calming strategies, like relaxation, meditation.
But also identifying unhelpful patterns of thinking and trying to change those.
Um… it's not about just positive thinking but also thinking about um… things that you can um… do that are not just thinking about problems.
Then there's modifying your activities, pacing activities that aggravate your pain.
That allows things to get done without aggravating your pain too much.
Um… sleep strategies, looking at the way you're sleeping.
There's a lot of things you can do there.
Your whole pattern of life changes.
It's not just… feeling the pain and not feeling the pain.
It's how you feel inside, it's how you feel about yourself.
It's what you put in your body, how you see your own body because once the pain takes over your body what do you have? You know, you feel as though you've got nothing.
But once you control that and you take control of your own life by doing things that are good for you um… then it works.
Dealing with other people, there's another problem.
They can't read your mind, they don't always know about your pain.
Only you can tell them.
But the trouble is that’s a, you know, that’s a vicious circle, and a, you know, double-edged sword.
‘Cause you don't want to bore them stiff by talking about your pain all day, on the other hand you want them to know you've got some limits.
So looking at the way you communicate about your pain, that can be very useful too, particularly with the people you're close to.
Well of course learning new skills when you've got a lot of pain or the pain’s bad is not easy and it is going to be a struggle but that's a reality.
However we find if you stick at it you can make a lot of progress.
Now in terms of which skills you need um… if you have trouble working it out then I think it's best to talk to your doctor or get a referral to a psychologist who knows something about pain.
Sometimes a physio can be very helpful there too.
But you… you’re likely to need help in developing a program for you.
But you've got to do a lot of this.
Your doctor, your physio, your psychologist they can't do it for you.
Now we call this self-management because it's gotta be done by the person in pain.
Teaching you how to take the negative thoughts out of your brain which… sounds easy to do but when you've got so many negative thoughts and you've got this hideous pain attacking you the whole… everything comes down on top of you.
Anything you just feel, you feel hopeless, you feel useless.
You don't think you can go on.
How am I ever gonna do what I used to do beforehand or… But um the psychiatrists and the psychologists help you get through that… and help you know that you're not useless and… you do have a purpose - you've just got to learn to do things differently.
If you find that you are feeling very depressed and you're worried about it and you've talked about it with your GP he or she may recommend an antidepressant as well.
Um… that doesn't mean the depression is causing the pain but it can complicate it and it make it harder to manage.
And it's appropriate in that situation to have some medication as well as the counselling.
Now the two actually work off each other and they can be very beneficial.
Not everybody needs it but some do and that's important to discuss with your GP.
Now… just like with the counselling it's important that the medication isn't just left and you carry on forever but you review it regularly with your GP and there should be specific goals you're aiming at um… for it to help you achieve.
Just like with the counselling, it shouldn't be open ended but should have specific goals that you would like to achieve within a certain time frame.
A time frame that's realistic of course.
But if you work with your GP on that then I think you could find that combination very helpful.
And your psychologist and maybe physio can be part of that plan.
And that will ensure you have the best outcome possible.
I've always been a car driver.
I’ve… I… I got my license on my seventeenth birthday and I bought a car two days later, this is back in… And I've driven a car ever since.
Until… until I had my accident with my femur and my feet were playing up and… I got… I got very sorry for myself ‘cause I thought well I can't drive because my feet are too bad et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
And um… and then I thought, I'll have a drive.
This is… this is another big thing.
Well why not? You know.
Don't say "I can't.
" Say "Well why can't I?"And I'm still a licenced driver, I've still got a current licence.
Um… So I sat in the car driver seat and it was like you know, falling off a bike and getting back on and you can ride a bike so I can drive a car, can't I.
That I went from thinking I'd never ever ever drive a car again in my life to, I can drive a car.
The upshot of all this things is you start doing these things and you think “I can do this.
There's no reason I can't do this.
I”… Um… so you do it and you really feel good.
And by feeling good, good about yourself and good about what you've achieved, your pain just sort of… so what.
It just goes straight into the background.
When you're down and you're just… thinking the whole time, pain pain pain.
Cranky, hate this, hate that, negativity, your pain does heighten.
But when you have a different, positive outlook about it and like… you know, ah… the sun's shining or, you know, just anything, anything positive that you can put on your life.
Oh you know, there's a new sprout in the garden, in the veggie patch or something.
It just really does make you feel so much better and you can, you roll from there.
It's not just the one positive.
It goes on and then your pain is not… you're not all tensed up and… you know, fighting against the world, fighting against yourself, fighting against your pain.
You're trying to go positive and… do the right thing and think happy thoughts.
[laughs] Now is a great time to fill out the Thoughts and Feelings section of your health plan.
If you haven't already done so, click on the Health Plan button below video and download the PDF.
Print it out.
After each video fill out the relevant sections.
You only have to fill it out once.
Take your completed health plan along to your GP or your health professional.
This is a great starting point to managing your pain.