I don’t talk about it often, but I have been in pain (of varying types) for over 5 years. 5 fucking years. It makes me incredibly angry sometimes and probably hard to be around, as I’m sure my husband could attest to. I try not to let it affect my life in too negative of a manner, but I know that it creeps into every action and reaction in my daily life.
We all have pain. Of one kind or another. The question is: how will we deal with it?
Well, I’ve been pretty shitty at dealing with it. In fact, I believe that the pain I have had for the past 2 years is quite simply a result of the tension and anxiety that I experienced over the original trauma of physical maladies. My whole body is tense ALL THE TIME. I have to consciously tell myself to relax my muscles. Afterall, I don’t need my jaw muscles to write a blog post for me or my shoulders to create a lesson plan. And chronic tension of course leads to chronic pain which of course causes us to tense even more because it hurts so much and it’s so goddamn frustrating!
So I’m trying something new. Last summer, I stumbled across a TED talk about building resilience to overcome difficult situations, and I even showed it to the students in my high school classes. But for some reason, I never actually investigated the “game” that this woman made to help people combat chronic pain, anxiety, depression, terminal illness etc. Until now, of course.
Jane McGonigal is a video game designer who suffered a traumatic brain injury. After being told that she needed to “rest her brain” and not do any of the activities that she previously enjoyed, she fell into depression and became suicidal. Luckily for us, though, she decided to create a game to help fight her depression and her brain injury. And it worked!
After being told that she needed to “rest her brain” and not do any of the activities that she previously enjoyed, she fell into depression and became suicidal. Luckily for us, though, she decided to create a game to help fight her depression and her brain injury. And it worked!
It’s pretty simple, really. The game is customizable and at its most basic level challenges you to stay on track with doing things that you know will make you feel better. Most of us know the things that will make us feel better, but when we feel like shit, it’s hard to do those things. We even tell ourselves that “it doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll never feel better.”
For me, I know that I need to retrain my muscles to relax when I don’t need them. After the car crash that caused my initial pain, I spent so much time trying to have “perfect posture.” And I obsessed over it and sat up straight with my chest up and shoulders back essentially every hour of the day. Turns out when you are obsessed with your posture (and trying desperately to avoid pain), you very well might be tensing your shoulders and neck. So I fixed one problem just to cause another…. and now I need to train my body to just have “good posture” and not tense muscles that I don’t need to tense. Easier said than done, but I’m hopeful that the SuperBetter game will help me stay focused and optimistic about the goal!
If you are challenged with chronic pain or really any difficult issue in your life, check out the SuperBetter website and the app. Part of the game is getting people to be your allies – and I would love some more allies. If you would like me to be your ally, you can add me by putting my email address in the app: firstname.lastname@example.org Please comment to let me know if you are planning to play the game and want to add me as an ally. 🙂