Chronic Pain and Chronic Frustration

In my support group yesterday, I said, “Chronic frustration is as bad as chronic pain.” I was told I should blog about it. So I am.

Chronic pain wears you down. It’s relentless, appearing day after day after day. Sometimes it’s a little weaker, sometimes a little stronger, but it is always there. You go to bed with it, you wake up with it.

Chances are you have tried lots of things to alleviate the pain. Many have not worked, or have worked for only a short time. Some dampen the pain but don’t eliminate it. Some work fine but have really bad side effects. Some are addictive. You did the very best you could, and you deserve the utmost respect

Nobody can see another’s pain. Crutches, wheelchairs, or slings may suggest that a person is – or recently was – in pain. But often the only outward sign of pain is a drawn expression – half-closed eyes, a pinched mouth, few facial movements. Another hint is slow body movements. Nobody with a bad back is going to walk briskly, let alone run.

All too often people dismiss another’s pain, figuring it can’t be all that bad. They assume the hurting person is lazy and is exaggerating the pain to use it as as excuse for not doing something they don’t want to. Or they are sissies, whiners, ingrates. Suck it up and get on with your life.

It would help if pain wasn’t invisible. Imagine having a green discoloration on your upper arms. Pale green from a little pain, forest green from excruciating pain. Perhaps it could appear as dots, one dot forming every week. The density of the dots would show how long you have been suffering. (I chose upper arms because they are easily concealed and easily shown if desired.)

Words like “malingering,” and “secondary gain”are used to shame the person with chronic pain. Don’t get me wrong, some people are malingering. They are faking pain to get worker’s compensation or lots of attention. It’s easier to fake whiplash, which doesn’t show up on an Xray than to fake a broken leg. However, if you spend a good deal time with such a person, you will see their act slip. It’s hard to be in pain, but it is hard to consistently  fake it, too.

I don’t remember constant pain as a child, but I may have dissociated it. As an adult though, I’ve had many a long year of relentless pain. First was what felt like aching in the bones of my arms and legs. It was so bad that I could neither write nor type for more than a few minutes. I couldn’t open doors and I had to get rid of my car, which was a stick shift, and get an automatic. The closest I came to a diagnosis was, “Sometimes middle aged women get that.” Thanks, doc.

I still don’t know what it was, although I suspect fibromyalgia. If I am right, I am one of the very few lucky ones that has achieved permanent remission. The flares got further apart and, over time, the pain lessened. I had a handful of pain-free years and then, bingo! osteoarthritis. And that is a life-long condition. I just have to manage it as best I can and live with it as gracefully as possible.

Interesting – I had meant to write about chronic frustration and I have gone on and on about chronic pain. It’s because I have been in a flare for about five days now and it was on my mind. Now that it put into words, I can turn my mind to frustration.


I have recently been trying to learn some new applications. I haven’t been very successful. As a matter of fact, I have had zero success all week. I try very hard – I also try to stop before I burst into tears.

Computers think in mysterious ways – even more so than cats. They cause a lot more melt-downs than cats, too. They don’t snuggle very well, although they do purr if you ask them nicely. I’m not kidding, go see for yourself:

I have been in a state of chronic frustration for an entire week. It’s not quite reached the point of becoming my baseline emotion 24/7, but it’s getting there. It’s not in my awareness when I sleep, except for the occasional dream. During the day, it’s constantly there, although I am often not aware of what is actually frustrating me. Little mannerisms of people I love seem to serve as triggers. and I find myself holding my breath and clenching my teeth. Trying to open jars serves as a trigger, as does mislaying my glasses, along with a zillion other little things. I figured out they were triggers when I remembered that normally I either don’t notice them or I shrug them off

My attention span has shrunk and my anger control skills are fraying at the edges. Plus which I have been EVEN more forgetful than usual. I worry that I have a resting bitch face, although I can’t tell because I manage a nice fake smile whenever I look in the mirror.

Pretty soon I shall either master one of those damn apps or give up. No guilt – if at first I don’t succeed, try, try again, and then delegate. This round of frustration is controllable.

There have been periods in my adult life when it hasn’t been so easy to end frustration. There were some things I simply would not allow myself to walk away from.

Take parenting. When my placid, smiley babies learned to walk and discovered independence, I ran around after them shrieking,” No! Don’t! Doooon’t!!!!!!” for what seemed like all day, every day, for ten years. Exhausting. Then things calmed down until the return of the terrible twos in their low teens. I understood that these were healthy reactions to emotional growth spurts, but it didn’t stop my frustration.

There were also long periods of frustration with important relationships and with things at work that drove me up the wall, like pressure to do something against my morals, discrimination against myself and others, or being taken for granted.

Long-term frustrations were like chronic pain, short-term ones like flare-ups. Now that I have figured this out, I will be more gentle with myself. I’ll also try some of my self-soothing techniques for pain and see what they do for frustration.


Upcoming Holidays

4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Partial solar eclipse visible in west South America and Antarctica.
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

5/1 Beltane
5/8 Mothers’ Day
5/15 Full Moon
5/15 – 5/16 Total lunar eclipse visible in south and west Europe, south and west Asia, Africa, much North America, South America, and Antarctica.
5/21 (?) Armed Forces Day
5/26 (?) Ascension Day
5/30 Memorial Day

6/5 Pentecost
6/6 (?) Whit Monday
6/12 (?) Trinity Sunday
6/14 Full Moon
6/16 (?) Corpus Christi/Feast of the Body of Christ
6/19 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve

6/24 (?) St John’s Day



7/4 Independence Day

7/13 Full Moon

7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God

7/27 Grand Climax

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

4/15-4/23 Passover/Pesach (Celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
6/4 – 6/6  Shavuot (Harvest Festival, Festival of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments)

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark andlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.


You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Candlemas –
Valentine’s Day –
Spring Equinox –
Easter: personal (for background, see Spring Equinox) –
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve –
Beltane –
Mothers’ Day –
Fathers’ Day –
Summer Solstice (corrected text) –
Lammas –
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 –
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 –
Fall Equinox –
Halloween (personal) – 
Halloween (background) –
Thanksgiving –
Yule/Winter Solstice –