One of the things I’ve noticed in all that I’ve read about Endometriosis, whether it be a medical journal article or a blog from a fellow fighter, is the hard topic of a struggle for someone who lives in chronic pain, is the dependency that you develop of prescription pain pills.
On a side note, being dependent and being addicted are two completely different things. Being addicted is to use, in this case, pain pills in a non-prescribed way. To take them when they’re not needed, to use them abusively. To be dependent is to depend on these drugs to function normally – in our case, to take a pain pill to get through a day full of pain. Being a dependent can lead to addiction and if you feel like you may have an addiction I strongly urge you to seek medical help from a doctor you trust. They in turn may send you to a counselor, which I again strongly urge you to do.
I’ve been thinking about this topic lately because of something that happened to me a few weeks ago.
A few weeks ago was my bridal shower, I am getting married at the end of this month. The shower was on Saturday. Wednesday I started having a lot of very bad pain. I spent Thursday in a haze of pain and a slightly drugged feeling from the pain killers I had the night before. By Friday night when my fiancé got into town I was knocked out on the couch on pain pills. Saturday I spent the day taking pain pills every 4 hours and kind of being lead through my shower by my mom and fiancé. Not the way I had always pictured spending my wedding shower. I looked through the pictures and even though my mom assured me no one could tell I was struggling to make it through the shower I could see myself in those pictures and see the effect of the pain killers.
As the weekend went on Sunday was much of the same, taking pain pills till I spent more of the afternoon very much out of it. In that weekend I took more pain pills than I have since surgery because I had so much to do and it was things I had to be present for. I mean you can’t exactly skip out of your own wedding shower because you feel terrible. Then came Monday, I felt better. Very sore from the pain but not hurting like I had been. Then Tuesday, I felt weird that morning, very edgy and panicky. By that afternoon the withdrawals from the heavy doses of pain pills came hard. I was very sick at my stomach, I had panic attacks, my heart rate was extremely fast and my whole body shook. I’ve heard of withdrawals but I had never experienced them myself. They are completely horrible. You feel like you are going crazy and at times you wonder if you already have.
I know I am not the only Endo fighter out there that has done this. Take pain pills around the clock to get through a big event. So that’s why I want to know why the dependency and the withdrawals of this kind of living is never discussed. I think maybe it’s because we feel like if we admit we’re dependent on something we feel weak. I know I talk a lot about how weak this disease can make you feel, and how you feel like you struggle to be strong, the reason I do is because I know it’s a huge battle when dealing with chronic illness. For me it’s a huge thing because feeling weak and dependent takes a huge punch on your self esteem. You can feel like your worthless and alone.
Being dependent on prescription pain pills does not make you weak. It means you are fighting a very real battle with your body and that sometimes you need some help to get through it.
That being said I think the hard part is when being dependent on pain killers to get through a bad day and the line of feeling like you have to have them everyday regardless if your having pain or not gets blurred.
This is hard for me to talk about because I don’t like admitting being dependent anymore then anyone else does. But after I went through the withdrawals I think it’s very important to talk about.
The thing I noticed during the withdrawals and for probably up to a week afterward is that my body was craving that medication. I wasn’t in enough pain to take anything but I knew if I did that the withdrawals would stop. I’m not happy about saying that I was very tempted. The withdrawals were terrible but I also knew that there was a line that could be crossed, and if I started taking that medication just because my body was craving it and feeling like it had to have it that I would cross the line into addiction. This is where the hard part is. For me I hate taking pain medication. I hate the way it makes me feel and I hate knowing that if I don’t take something when the pain reaches a certain level that I will never make it through the day, but on the other side I hate withdrawals. So this is where the battle comes in. When you take a lot of pain medication to make it through a big event and now you’re going through the withdrawals and your body is craving, begging for the medication. This is a very very hard fight and I would never tell you its something simple and easy to deal with because it’s not. I can understand how you can become a prescription pain medication addict. I understand and for someone with Endo that lives in constant pain, I would never judge them because I know exactly how it feels.
But I know how prescription addiction can ruin your life and if you cross that line, eventually it will.
So what do you do during withdrawals? I prayed. A lot. I cried, I slept, I drank a lot of water and when my body was shaking my mom held me like I was a little girl again. At that moment I felt like I was. I felt like screaming “Someone please help me!” I felt like I was going crazy but I didn’t take the medication. I kept the bottles out of sight and stayed away from where I had hidden them. I know this sounds like extreme measures to take when I’m not an addict and have never been one but I want you to see how important it is for me to never cross that thin line between dependency and addiction.
Being dependent on prescription medications when you live with Endometriosis and you’re in pain almost every day of your life, this is not something to be ashamed of or to feel weak or embarrassed about. This is just another hard thing we learn to live with and it’s a part of our battle. Don’t ever feel that you’re not a brave, strong woman because you have to take a pain pill to get through a big day.
But if you ever feel like you’re starting to wobble on the line of dependency and addiction I’m begging you to seek help. If you are struggling with withdrawals please find someone you can talk to. It can be your spouse, your parents, a close friend, your doctor or the sisters here on Fight Like A Girl. We are all in this together and every single part of this battle is important and you should never have to go through any of it feeling alone. You are a brave, strong woman because you are still going. You haven’t let this disease beat you. You will get through today and tomorrow, I know this because I know that you are strong.
Much love and pain free wishes ♥
The informational content of this article is intended to convey general educational
information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.