How I learnt to say "yes" to my neck pain
I can't remember a time in my adult life where I didn't have something going on with my neck.
In 2005 I was in a car accident that took my neck pain to a new level, I've been having physio and massages ever since.
During 2014 I was typing a blog post on the couch (while freezing cold) and something twinged in my neck. It didn't feel good. I had an instant headache and dizziness for the rest of the day. The next day, I was in THE WORST pain I'd ever been in.
I couldn't move my neck at all and I had a headache that prevented me from thinking straight.
Somehow I managed to put clothes on and drive my daughter to kindy. When I got home, I was written off. I cancelled my work for the day and went to sleep on the couch.
When I woke up, I couldn't move. I managed to rummage through my bag and find my phone so that I could call my physiotherapist. I booked an appointment for later that day.
I found an apple and some pain killers in my bag which which got me through the 3 hour wait until I could see the physio. (sometimes it pays to carry random crap and snacks around with you in your bag, you never know when you might need it… like when you're at home and you can't get yourself to the kitchen, haha)
I made it to the physio and she asked me what was wrong…. and I just cried.
I tried to explain the pain but I just wailed through unstoppable tears. It had taken all of my strength to get through half a day feeling like this, and all of my strength was gone. She looked at me and she said "You've got a headache right?" I sure did, but (in my usual way) I was refusing to accept it.
All I could think about was the work that I wasn't getting done today and how I couldn't afford this appointment.
My heart sank when she told me that I needed to come back tomorrow AND the day after that.
I was fighting fierce. I did not want this. I did not like this and I was not going to accept it!
So… months went on and I still refused to say "yes" to this pain. I struggled through it and moaned about it. I let it get me down.
Despite my pushing and fighting, my neck pain gradually went away. I felt as though I had beaten it and I got on with my life.
But I recently had a relapse.
One day, a headache rocked up out of nowhere and I was completely knocked over by it. I couldn't do anything except lie still. I remembered how bad it used to be to feel like this all the time.
Straight away I was back into my negative thoughts about how I hated feeling this way and I was instantly miserable.
I reminded myself of my quest to make peace with my life in 2015, I wanted it to be different this time.
Usually I would grumble about my pain until it became unbearable at which point I would drag myself to the physio. This time I decided to put myself first instead of last, so I rang the physio straight away. Even though it was Friday afternoon, she was able to fit me in and was more than happy to see me that day.
In the past I would have spent the whole weekend in pain and denial, but because I honoured the pain that I was in, I was able to take action to fix it easily.
Here's the process that I went through:
1) Acknowledge the problem
Don't pretend that it's not there and just trudge on through it. Notice it, honour it, let it be there. The problem doesn't have to get you down or change your mood, but if you're anything like me and you avoid acknowledging the problem until it's (nearly) too late, then you need to start by honouring its existence.
Talk to your problem and say "I see you. I don't like that you're here but I see you for what you are and I allow you to exist."
2) Take immediate action
Is there something that you can do right now to improve your situation?
If it's easy and not too expensive then maybe you should just get on with it!
In my case, the physiotherapy really helped, but I used any excuse to put it off. Similarly, I know that I feel much better when I do some yoga but I kept telling myself that it was too hard or that it might make my neck worse.
When I finally got around to looking after myself, I wished that I had done it sooner.
Don't put off doing something that will improve your situation.
3) Stop fighting it and start accepting it
If you've done step 1, then this step becomes much easier. Whenever you notice any resistance creeping in, whenever you start fighting with your reality, bring yourself into the here and now. Follow your breath, accept your feelings, feel grateful for what you have and notice your thoughts.
Connect with your true values and become the person that you truly want to be, regardless of your pain.
How do you cope with pain?