“I got up to go to work and I wasn’t feeling great. I got sent home. I was really ill, my body just shut down. About four times I tried to go back to work and eventually I just had to walk out. The illness got much worse and the pain got much worse and consistent. The remissions stopped. The discs in my back swell up, the cartilage in my chest is swollen. I experience different kinds of pain. I’ve had a headache for 20 years.
I’ve got inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain and chronic pain too so managing the illness has always been really hard and my body doesn’t tolerate medicine well. Five and a half years ago my GP sent me to Pain Association Scotland and I went with very low expectations. I went on a five week intensive course with ideas on how you can manage pain. The big change was when we did a deep breathing visualisation. I went away and practiced it and by the end of three months it was like a lightbulb moment. It turned things around.
I met quite a few people on my journey so we decided to go for lunch every couple of weeks and it turned out to be brilliant. It’s a whole group of people who aren’t judging and who understand each other even though everyone’s illness is slightly different.
Self management works really well for me. I don’t spend time being frustrated and angry anymore. Self talk has improved all aspects of my life. I move through the pain as much as I can. Years and years of being told to rest wasn’t working, this new way is better. I do things that naturally produce endorphins like relaxation and I try to live more of a balanced life.
I’ve learned so much and concentrate on what I can do. I focus on being really positive and it’s helped the folk around me, particularly the lads from the pain group. These strangers are now my friends and my journey has given them a lot of hope too. I’m no longer just existing, I’m living my life to the full.”