Chronic Pain Diaries V

I am bored. Bored, bored, bored. I could write, but I need a break from that. I have played my ukulele. I have tuned my guitar. I learned how to play every Soko tab I could get my hands on. I am so completely utterly bored.

I need a job.

The worst part about waiting to hear back from potential employers is the fact that a lot of that sitting around turns into stress, both physical and mental. Sure, I go for walks. I’m going for one as soon as this is finished. But a person with chronic pain can only walk so much. Or sit so much. Or stand stationary in a lineup while they wait to see what everyone else is waiting for (hint: it was a strip club).

This isn’t unusual really. Last semester when I had a couple days off in a row I had to be very proactive about ensuring that I was doing things that were at least slightly physical to keep my body going. I’m no stranger to going for walks even when I have bad pain days. I can deal with that.

But the mental stress? That’s another matter altogether. I recently read an article that talks about the mental stress that comes with chronic pain and how the average person doesn’t tend to consider it. Oh, your body is falling apart? That’s bad. But at least your brain is all hunky-dory, right? The article made a note of saying that studies show people with chronic pain can suffer from an intensity of emotions that can be a challenge to deal with. It’s not so much because they are stressed because of pain, and that stress causes them to go hot and cold at random. It’s actually a physical reaction to the way the neurons fire off at random. People with chronic pain are often overly emotional because their brains are forcing them to be.

I always reasoned that whenever my emotions were playing up I would do a set of things to calm them down. I would work on my giant blanket. I would write. I would draw. I would paint. I would play video games. Mostly I listen to music at a rate that is far too loud (so sorry Dr. Epstein!) There is something about absolutely blaring my Hawksley Workman pain mix that just takes me away. My brain stops firing neurotic pistons and pauses to take in the sound.

The stress of being bored and not having a job and waiting for beta readers to get back to me is certainly causing my emotions to run hot and cold. I know it. Poor Alex has to deal with it, and I know it isn’t always easy. Thank goodness he is patient with me.

Writing hasn’t worked. Neither has knitting or painting or drawing. Even video games are out of the question. With no other option left to me, I turned on Spotify this morning and started up my saved music. Anger as Beauty, embodying my frustration; Oh You Delicate Heart, reminding me that there is always some vulnerability, even when you have a spine reinforced with surgical steel; Ice AgeSmoke Baby, We Will Still Need a Song. They make me feel something other than frustration and pain. There’s a new song, a single from his new album. We’re Not Broken Yet. It seems the most appropriate yet. No matter the pain, the frustration, the deepening sense of hopeless sense, we’re not broken yet.

I am still hopeful that I’ll get a call back from one of the many jobs that I’ve applied to. Until then, I’ll keep walking, keep listening to music and playing games and nervously bite my fingernails while I wait for beta readers to get back to me. Mental stress can be as brutal as the physical, which is a monumental shame because if I don’t have my sanity, what do I have? (Hint: two cats, a loving husband, and this sock full of quarters for slinging at zombies when the inevitable rise of the living dead takes place and we need to flee to the mountains.)

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