The Indescribable Redundantness of Chronic Pain

The thing that I find hardest to describe about chronic pain is how redundant it is.

Of all the lines in Allie Brosh’s last post about depression, the one that resonated most powerfully with me was when she described wanting to commit suicide as being like wanting to mute an unbearably repetitive noise. I get emotional reading that line every time I look at that post.

I wish I had a metaphor of some sort to describe what it feels like having dealt with chronic pain for a decade. I find it impossible to describe the feeling in writing, because I can’t think of a way to describe it that isn’t incredibly boring. Interesting written narratives have variation — unexpected things happen, changes happen, and if they don’t your story is boring. The problem with the story of chronic pain is that it is boring.

I have woken up with some amount of pain in some part of my body almost every day for the last 10 years. Every day that pain is just as real, just as visceral, and just as distressing as on any of the other days. It isn’t like a montage, where you get to watch a few isolated scenes of the months or years over which you’ve dealt with it. It isn’t just there when you talk about it, or write about it. It is there, with you, as real as anything else in the world is, for every single one of the days you’ve had it. Every. Single. One. It gets really old, and then it gets old again, and then it gets old thinking, “This is really getting old.” Then thinking that gets old. The day after that happens, you wake up with pain again. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that. For hundreds, and then thousands of days in a row.

It’s like being around a friend who has that completely unfunny joke they like to tell for reasons that utterly escape you, but instead of just being annoyed by it at social events, that friend is there with you every morning when you wake up, telling that same stupid fucking joke, “Ha ha, good morning, you’re in pain again!” and chortling to themselves as though they’re the cleverest human being in the universe. And you want to smash their face against a wall. It’s not funny, it never was funny, but they don’t care, and it keeps happening, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

For ten years.

It is unbearably repetitive.

Some days you try to pretend it’s funny, grin and bear it, try to “Well, that’s life” yourself into some sort of Zen-like acceptance of your circumstances. Others you rage, but there is no real life person you can blame, whose head you can satisfyingly smash against the wall until they apologize, over and over again, for making you this way. There’s no one you can punish.

Other days it just strikes you depressively dumb, and you just sit and wish it would all go away.