Take the Pain Away

Pain Pain Pain

Over the course of my journey and some of the series that I’ve run, I’ve talked about how I use self-harm and pain to break out of the numbness and emptiness of depression.  As a sure-fire way of feeling, it’s almost 100% guaranteed to break through that abyssal void and bring me back into a place of feeling.  Sadly it works, even though it’s something you should never have to go through.

You hurt yourself on the outside trying to kill the monster on the inside.The pain I inflict upon myself is intentional.  What about the unintentional pain, though?  The innermost pains caused by depression or anxiety, the ones that just don’t seem to go away no matter what you do?  See, people always tend to think of it as a physical sensation, something caused by physical stimuli such as a broken leg.  You do get headaches caused by that sort of mental fatigue but you wouldn’t normally associate it with depression or anxiety.  However, according to the American Psychological Association, pain is something that can be caused by emotional, biological and psychological factors.  It is possible to be feeling hurt from your mental illness.

But what do we, as friends and family, do with that?

The Drive to Wellness

As a friend or a family member, we want nothing more than to alleviate the suffering of our loved ones.  We hate seeing them hurting, we want to make it better.  For some, they would move mountains if they could make it better, doing whatever is possible.  From taking on the burdens themselves to simply being there to reduce the pain, it’s something they would do.

My parents are one of the best examples of this that I can think of.  They would tell me that they are “fixers” and they want nothing more than to fix my problems and make me well again.  If they could take the problems upon themselves, they would.  They would do anything to make me well, even if it was detrimental to themselves.  I know not all parents are like this but I am lucky to have parents who would do that for me.

There are friends who would love to help me in similar ways.  One or two people I can think of want to take the pain away so that I can be well again.  Sometimes they have expressed that desire directly but, more often than not, they ask what they can do to help.

Sadly it’s not always possible, though, is it?

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No Solutions

Recently, I had my godchildren to stay and, at some unearthly hour, the toddler woke up crying.  In short, she was in pain.  Her leg was hurting as though she had cramp in it, though it wasn’t cramp.  I did my best to soothe her and to settle her back down but she was in too much pain to go back to sleep so easily.  As I cuddled her, trying to calm her, I had a realisation…

There was nothing I could do.

Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It's always there, though. - Jeffrey EugenidesNothing that I could do would alleviate that pain.  I had no magical balm, no soothing touch, nothing that would take the pain out of her leg.  That translates over to mental health and the pain felt as a result of that.  Sometimes there is absolutely nothing that we can do to fix it.  It’s just something that we have to cope with.

So, as I sat there cuddling my goddaughter, I was thinking that sometimes the only thing we can do is simply be there for that person.  If they’re hurting, sometimes our presence is the only thing that we can do.  How much worse would her problem have been if there had been no one there to give her that cuddle, comforting her.

When no solutions present themselves, our presence is the only thing that we can offer that will bring them some measure of support or comfort.

Over to You

Is there someone suffering from some kind of pain due to mental health?  If you know someone going through that perpetual darkness, offer them your presence.  You might not be able to fix it but that’s alright, you don’t have to fix it.  Sometimes your presence is enough.  Sometimes that’s all they need.

See what you can do.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Author: Alex Davies

Alex Davies is the creator and writer for Pushing Back the Shadows. Find out more about his journey here and connect with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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