Party Of One

IMG_0196Can we just be candid here for a bit? The truth is nobody really Wants to talk about how lonely it can be for people who don’t fall in step with society, especially the chronically ill, for instance those of us who aren’t able to work, or socialize as we once did. Loneliness is a bit of a taboo subject really.  After all it’s the popular, well-liked people who are surrounded by never-ending invitations, and to admit that even a fraction of that is no longer happening in your life requires you to swallow your pride. Every once in a while the loneliness will bubble over and someone will feel moved to write about it, either perhaps in a blog, or on social media, but it’s not a normal topic of conversation, even in the support communities.  But let me tell you something folks, when people get to that place where they are confessing or expressing loneliness, they aren’t writing that from a place of happiness.  Nobody that I know wants to talk about how lonely they are or how isolated they feel.

Recently I stumbled across an article on the relationship between loneliness and addiction. I was shocked, I guess I didn’t realize loneliness could lead to such things as addiction. Since then I’ve read several more articles about how the two go hand in hand. Here’s one. As someone whose family seems to be riddled with addiction I found this fascinating and as I mentally scanned through people I have known who grappled with the worst of addiction, I saw it, I saw the loneliness.  I saw the parts of them they hid from the world, from themselves, the parts they drowned in drugs and alcohol.  Clear as day for all the world to see, a sadness in their eyes where the world had kicked them a blow that was insurmountable.  And maybe in my mind’s eye, I can see that loneliness now because of how in touch I am with my own. But had I known back then, could I have helped? Perhaps no, perhaps yes.  On all accounts it’s too late, they’ve all lost the battle. Some of my favorite people in this world I’ve lost to addiction, and now I know it was actually to loneliness.

Speaking of addiction, as a fibromyalgia and CFS sufferer I’ve been offered more opioid prescriptions than you could likely imagine, seriously. As a person who took a little spin with Vicodin almost 30 years ago and had a hard time giving up that beautiful tango I’ve politely declined all offers of pain medication since (with the exception of a C-section).  I guess the silver lining of having addiction in the family is that it taught me to do better’ and battle addiction by not starting at all.  (If you’re currently battling addiction, please reach out, if not for yourself, for those around you that love you.) My most recent opioid offering came from my rheumatologist.  My frozen shoulder was excruciating at times but I told him that I have a history of addiction and need something with no opioids that isn’t addicting and he said, “Tramadol isn’t an opioid. So it’s not addictive.” So I filled the prescription, brought it home and researched it and sure enough folks…it’s an addictive opioid. Why would the doctor mislead me like this? Why doesn’t he care? What if I’d have believed him? Why on earth are pain pills pushed like candy in this country? I guess that’s another post for another day.

So where am I heading with all this? Well here’s where I’m not heading.  I’m not saying don’t take opioids! I’m saying I don’t take opioids for personal reasons.  I’m not saying all doctors are deceitful.  I’m saying mine was, although I don’t know if it was intentional. I’m also saying if you have a chronic illness and you are lonely, please I beg of you, be careful.  Having a chronic illness and chronic pain is such a struggle and to add an opioid addiction on top of that seems very challenging.  In the US, doctors I’ve come across don’t seem to want to fix problems, they want to medicate them.  That makes you a returning patient, which feeds their bottom line. Other countries where the doctor doesn’t profit from your every visit seem to have a different philosophy on handing out medications vs. trying to fix illnesses from the root. I’m in no way against medications, when necessary, but there are so many other alternatives available which, I believe, are significantly underutilized.

So the truth is, given that I’m a shy introvert, loneliness doesn’t come that easily to me. As a child I was surrounded by friends and family. As a young adult, lots of friends and less family and as an older adult, less friends, very little family. Now, the people I communicate with regularly fit on one hand. I’m not pointing fingers or blame, life takes many twists and turns and evolves as it sees fit.  Had you asked 10 years ago if I would have this little contact with the outside world I would have said absolutely not, but it’s my reality. Some days, like today, loneliness wrestles me to the ground in a choke hold, and most other days I don’t even think twice about it. To admit to yourself that the people around you were only there out of convenience or need is as hard to swallow as saying you’re lonely.  So instead you smile with thankfulness at what each day brings and try to let go of the people who walked away when you absolutely needed them the most. And you appreciate the hell out of the people who stayed.

I wish I could wrap this up with a solution.  A solution to loneliness. A solution to addiction and chronic pain. Unfortunately, I don’t have any blanket solutions. I can share with you how I handle my pain without opioids:

  • My diet is ridiculously particular.
    • If I add sugar, I add more pain, like hand to a glove
    • No dairy
    • No caffeine
    • No gluten
    • Low carb
    • Lots of fruits and veggies
  • Stress, physical and emotional = pain
  • Sitting too long in one position = pain
  • Listening to music or painting can dull the pain away for a while
  • Mindful meditation has taught me to embrace my pain as a loving part of my body. My brain doesn’t seem to process pain anymore like it used to. Pain sits somewhere in the back now, it’s a part of me but for the most part, an accepted part.  This works unless you add stress or overdoing it then it becomes crawl-out-of-your-skin unbearable so I just remind myself that it will get better soon, it isn’t going to last forever

354Loneliness isn’t so easy to handle, not that pain is, but you can’t solve it by avoiding sugar. Nobody wants to feel left out, or like they are missing out, especially on life as a whole.  Social media is an amazing resource for loneliness, it’s there 24 hours a day and if you find a good fitting community it can do you a world of good. If you have a pet, they too are usually up for a good cuddle.  I have two kitties, Lily and Rusty, and a dog, Kaiser (Kaiser and Rusty pictured here).  If you know someone with a chronic illness and you are able to reach out to them even once a month, it will mean the world to them. If you know an elderly person who is housebound, and you have time, reach out.  I know that if/when I get better I will make it my mission to reach out more to those who are alone, or feeling lonely, but won’t necessarily reach out.  If you know someone who has an addiction, maybe when you approach them next time try to keep in mind that at the root, they are lonely.  If you are battling an addiction, please reach out for help if you can…if you are reading this, there’s still time.  Loneliness, addiction, chronic illness, chronic pain, and isolation aren’t fun things to talk about, but life is not always fun…or fair.

Thank you for reading along.  It’s been a rather rough day and I probably won’t make another post like this, as I like to keep things as positive as possible, but none-the-less this is weighing on my heart today and so I’m putting it out there. {Just in case you weren’t aware, the red, bold text are hyperlinks.}

 

 

5 thoughts on “Party Of One

  1. Thanks for sharing this – it can’t have been easy to write. I honestly can’t understand the medical system’s current relationship with opioids and other addictive substances. There are those who engage in drug seeking behaviour and get pills thrown at them by every new dr they visit, and others who are in genuine need and would use medication responsibly are denied substances that might make a serious change in their quality of life.

    Loneliness is a killer with chronic illness. I struggle now, but I don’t know how people managed before social media.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, society does not embrace folks with challenges. Thanks for sharing and wishing you feel better. Animals can be a great source of joy. Unfortunately, I am allergic to cats and dogs. Best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your input and well wishes! It’s so true what you say, society seems to have a bit of a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality as a norm. Thankfully there are some really neat people sprinkled into the mix with hearts and compassion the size of Texas. I’m sorry to hear you’re allergic to dogs and cats. That would be tough in a variety ways. At least there are always books, they are a great joy too😊

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.