The Side Effects of Chronic Pain Nobody talks about

It’s normal to talk about the side effects that everyone can see, but what about the side effects that aren’t seen.  The ones nobody dare ask because they are afraid of the answer (and then wish they hadn’t asked the question).

Chronic Pain is an invisible illness and this means hidden side effects.

Firstly, and sometimes obviously, is weight gain and loss. I’ve not met or spoken to one person with a chronic illness who’s happy with their weight.  Let’s face it none of us really are happy with our weight, but having all these medications just to be able to survive one day takes a toll on your weight.  Be it steroids, nerve pain drugs or even opioids, prolonged use has a big effect.  But because of our illness’ exercise barely exists, because let’s face it, if you can get or out of bed one morning you’ve basically just climbed Everest. Enough said.  But it’s a constant battle with medication and exercise, and certainly not a battle ANY of us are choosing to fight.


Mood.  Mood swings are a given, for any human being, it’s what we do as human beings, but add in severe and debilitating pain and medication, it’s like a ticking time bomb.  Everyone has off days, but when your are in so much pain, THE slightest thing can make you explode, and for no apparent reason.  Certain medications I have taken in the past have made me a raving lunatic at times, but not having control of your mood is scary.  You can almost see it happen, this switch inside you clicks and BOOM, look out! But in the next breath, you can be so delightfully happy, almost delirious, you forget about the bad moods, till that switch goes click. 


Patience.  Given that most of your time is spent waiting on doctors, surgeons, and everyone else, you’d think patience was a given.  No.  I have less patience now than I ever did, but not in everything I do.  I have less patience for faffing around, being down right rude, General BS and Stress.  Stress being the main factor of pain in my body, I try to avoid it at all costs – which in itself can be stressful (go figure!)  Of course it doesn’t always work, and I will get myself worked up which then causes a massive crash, but I’m learning to deal with things a lot better. But if we all had a little more patience with someone we know suffering from an illness, the benefit to that person is better than any gift. 

Mental Health.  Of course, this is a big side effect and one that’s very easily hidden.  Be mindful of the fact that that person has gone from being a healthy person, to having their life changed in an instant. It’s not an easy process, it never will be, you grieve every day for the person you once were, but how do you deal with the fact that that person has gone, and probably forever? Is it any wonder depression is a major side effect? Anxiety also comes in to play here, because not knowing how to deal with this “new” life is extremely new territory, and terrifying. Is it any wonder people can be anxious? 


Lifestyle.  What was once perhaps a care free life where you did as you pleased, has now resulted in a carefully managed routine, and is such a shock to the system.  Imagine having a successful career, and a  happy/comfortable life (as comfortable as it can be!) and then all of a sudden you become chronically ill, not able to work, or provide for your family, let alone yourself.  Not able to function without help, or do the things you used to.  All that taken away in the blink of an eye.  The lifestyle you once had has been swapped for something that you struggle to control, let alone get used to.  

Skin/Hair etc.  Now of course you can see skin (not all skin of course) and hair, nails etc, but through medication, tiredness, and other factors, our skin and hair can take a beating too. My skin has changed from relatively normal to extremely uber sensitive.  If something even brushes past my skin, I have a reaction.  My face is now full of spots, which come for a couple weeks holidays, then disappear, then re-visit like never before. Reactions to medications can cause terrible skin problems.  Hair can also fall out at a quicker rate than it grows.  


Intimacy.  Not everything is about sex if you are in a relationship, there are of course plenty other ways to be affectionate and loving with your partner.  But what if having sex is painful and hurts you, should that put you off ever having sex again? Should people who have chronic pain/illness’ never have sex again? Eh I don’t think so, just because we are in pain doesn’t mean we don’t have the same needs like any other person. It’s all about adapting and finding what works, and what doesn’t aggravate pain levels.  Just have fun experimenting! 


Finance.  I’m broke, like all the time.  The never ending medications, the lotions and potions, treatments, travel to and from appointments, everything adds up.  And if you can’t work it’s even harder.  Ok we aren’t all lucky enough to have won the lottery or be well off, but if you can help someone in need, do it!  It doesn’t have to be handing over money, why not buy some of the needed lotions and potions or medication? It’s a gift that will take pressure off.  It’s VERY hard for me to admit I need help financially, I do not like asking anyone for money or help, but that’s something I need to work on – my own pride.  Because worrying about money only adds to stress, and stress makes things worse. 

There are so many side effects, side effects that seem to be taboo.  But why? None of the above points need to be hidden or not spoken about!  All it takes is for a friendly and supportive ear to be there for a person, and have some degree of understanding what that person has to deal with.

Look beyond what you CAN see, and search for what you can’t. 

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16 thoughts on “The Side Effects of Chronic Pain Nobody talks about

    1. You are a great writer. You have put into words many of the things I think and feel and want to say to my family and friends. My husband and kids understand and one of my uncles my favorite I might add. No one else gets it. Of course I don’t talk about all the really personal stuff with my grown kids but they know a lot about what I’m going thru. My husband does too because he sees it but lets face it I don’t think even a husband can fully understand because unless you’ve experienced it they won’t. I am thankful I have my faith in God. At 65 you would think I had it all together but since the chronic illnesses turned into chronic pain I don’t know this person. I long for and pray for the real me. to be con’t ( phone is about to die)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you so much Carol for your
        Lovely comment! I completely understand and agree with you, it’s hard to explain to anyone how we feel, especially those close to us, and harder when nobody really understands unless they have been through it too. It’s turned my life upside down and is the same for every other person too. Xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh Kat… this is a great post, so much I identify with. I hear you lovely and you are doing so well, I’m proud of you every day. Just remember one thing, you have a beautiful kind and loving heart and that will never change, it won’t go away and you will always be you inside. Sending you lots of hugs and love, really really good post. xxxx

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  2. OMG the side effects–I read the medication leaflet that comes with a new med and proceed to have days of anxiety, thinking I’m going to die or something. Seriously, the last med mentioned death several times as a possibility. (The pharmacist explained that these are dosage and interaction warnings and don’t apply to me, but still….)

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  3. Feel better after reading this, I’ve been signed off work due to my MS, phoned them today to tell them the doctors advised plenty of rest and the stupid woman was asking if there was anything I could do to help it or maybe something I could do to speed up the recovery! I kept saying plenty of rest, was feeling pretty deflated but reading your article has helped. Thank you xx

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    1. I’m sorry to read his, and sorry to hear how unsupported you are! It’s a real struggle when you have to prove yourself in the workplace! I’m wishing you a good recovery, and I hope that things improve for you soon, but take as much time (and a little more!) as you need – it’s your health, not your work’s! Xx

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    2. I understand what you are saying. I had to resign from my job, I am still working from home for one more month and then I am finished. The chronic pain has forced this older woman to quit working. Of course I am expected to train and make the transition smooth. I told them I don’t know if I can do I will see what happens. What I want to say is are you listening, my body won’t do it along with my stressed out mind from chronic pain for 10 years. Did what I could but I know it made me worse. Never again for what time the good Lord has me on earth. At 65 I just don’t care any more. I am worse off now than before I became ill. Hang in there. What I have learned is that people will keep taking and it is up to us to know when to stop giving to others and take care of ourselves, in a selfless way of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this, Kat. I belong to several support groups on Facebook for my Ramsay Hunt Syndrome & postherpetic facial neuralgia. I will share it with all of them. It’s really good — and I was a professional reporter for more than 20 years, including at what was then the top-circulation newspaper in the USA.

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