Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Pain Is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional.




Meet Tom. 

Just a few months ago, after some unsettling health problems, he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition which will mean a big change on how he lives his life from now on.


He was devastated. He'd hoped that it would be something treatable but it turns out that his condition will only be manageable and that he'll spend a large part of the time in pain.




He hasn't been sleeping well. He's constantly worrying about the future and has become a little withdrawn. He's probably living with reactive depression too. Unfortunately, while his family is trying to support him, he's becoming increasingly difficult to live with.


On occasions he opens up to his wife, Anne, and expresses his frustration.


Life wasn't meant to be like this”, “Why me?” and even sometimes, “It's okay for you” are some of the things that Vic says which both hurt and upset her.


She's already concerned that he isn't the same as a few months ago and that he's using much energy in blaming other people for how he's feeling, for example that friends haven't rung to see how he is.


He's complaining an awful lot about his pain too which Anne understands on the one hand but, on the other, finds very wearing. She feels awful that she has these thoughts because she sympathises with him greatly and wishes she could somehow take the pain away but she's also very conscious of the impact of his mood on family life.


I'm worried,” confides Anne.


I don't know where we're going to go from here. Things are becoming fraught between us and he doesn't seem to understand that we're suffering too.”


So Anne has started reading about limiting life-long conditions in order to help Tom and the whole family. She has been particularly interested in how other people respond to major challenges. As she has read, one thing, more than any other, has struck her.


Tom is becoming a victim.









Now let's meet Tim.


Tim was diagnosed with a chronic illness many years ago and has developed a different attitude it.


When I first realised that I was ill and that it was something that was going to stay with me for life, I wasn't happy believe me. It was at a difficult age too. Other kids didn't get diagnoses like I had. At least that's what I thought. I was angry when I realised I couldn't do sport like other children my age. I made life difficult for those around me, my family particularly and my friends too and I probably lost some of them as a result.”


Tim admits it took him a while but he had an epiphany which changed his life.



I was on holiday with my parents when I was 19. We were renting a holiday cottage and there were lots of books there. Call it fate if you like but I took a book from the shelves and opened it and the first thing I read was a quotation. 'Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.'

It rocked me back on my heels. I realised that the pain which I had endured - the physical effects of my condition – was not the same as my response to the pain.

I'd made a choice and allowed myself to be dominated by my illness. I'd allowed my condition to have power over my life which I did not want.

From that day on, I resolved that I would not allow myself to suffer any more and would not allow others to suffer because of my response to my illness either.

"I do still have moments where I feel down and where I feel sorry for myself but I deliberately put a limit on how long I'm going to allow myself to feel like that. So far, it seems to be working."

Tim's family are supportive and very proud of him for how he deals with his illness which they know would get the better of a lot of people. They know he feels ill a lot of the time and he's very often in pain so they give him the space he needs to get over these periods and help him as much as they can.

His elder son, Josh, puts it like this. "Dad never seems to be in a bad mood despite his problems. He always manages to stay positive and realises his condition is a part of his life and we accept it accordingly. He's still our dad and has always done a lot for us. We've always been able to feel that he loves us."






What do you think of Tom's and Tim's story? What do you think of the quotation as a potential turning point in someone's life? Do you think that Tom is behaving like a victim or is his reaction entirely understandable? Do leave comments below or on Thrive's Google+ page and join the debate.


If you don't want to miss the next post in this series, you can subscribe to the Thrive blog by email, RSS feed or add Thrive to your Google+ page, all in the sidebar to the right of this post.



This article is not meant as a substitute for obtaining qualified medical advice for any health condition you may be concerned about. If you believe your health to be affected then please see your general medical practitioner as soon as possible. 


photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/67272961@N03/6123892769">laptop and stethoscope</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29712408@N02/4265928877">Hi Contrast Bro</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

The origin of the quotation "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" is disputed but is most often attributed to M. Kathleen Casey 1983.

 

No comments:

Post a Comment