Chronic pain, anxiety and relationships
I'm on the Gold Coast and looking for professional help.
My wife has chronic pain (fibro&cfs - mainly stomach, nervous system, fatigue) going on for almost 2 decades. She is a little better than house-bound, but not by much.
Neither of us have a support network. She needed to separate from her family. My family are not supportive people. She can become very anxious and often feels hopeless.
She has undertaken ~8 of psychology sessions recently that has helped with reframing her pain and looking for hope (RAIN)
Sometimes our dynamic causes breakdowns. I put in a lot of effort to get this right, but it's too complex and too big.
I am looking for a psychology recommendation to work with chronic pain and couples. Gold Coast, if possible. She doesn't like CBT and says it does nothing for her.
Hi - I really want to say how amazing you are to stand by her and seek help for both of you. It is truly to be admired. I have rheumatoid arthritis and my partner didn't understand. It's very difficult for everyone. I understand your wife's aversion to CBT. Have to say it did nothing for me either. Narrative therapy can help especially as it sounds like there are other factors that are impacting on both of you. I can't give you any specific recommendations but I would suggest that you research Chronic Pain first. Most specialists who work with chronic pain have had patients in the same situation as yours. You might want to look at getting some separate counselling for yourself. I know that there is a lot of confusion and angst and even anger when you are trying to deal with a person who has complex needs. You might need your own 'safe place' to blow off some steam and reset. I wish you and your wife the best of luck, and again, I can't express how encouraging it is for me to see someone so supportive of their partner
Hi Ferry Keene,
I'm so sorry for your challenge, it must be so hard for you and your wife. But you've done so much, which is simply amazing.
Sorry that I don't have lived experience to share but I think MaddieT's advice is very practical. Moreover, as you don't have support from family, maybe your can turn to community support. Have you had some study to the resources out there in your community? Including social support workers, mental support workers, peer programs, etc.
I developed fibromyalgia 34 years ago. I’ve tried therapy in the past but its efficacy was limited. I do not like CBT either and it definitely didn’t help.
However, I’ve spent the past few years researching fibro, especially the way environmental factors can set epigenetic processes in motion that lead to certain genes being expressed, which seems to be a driver of fibro, cfs and a range of autoimmune diseases. Things like trauma, specific viruses (especially Epstein Barr), car accidents etc can all activate epigenetic shifts in association with chronic dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. I had complex trauma in childhood and also a virus they couldn’t definitely diagnose at the onset of fibro. In my research I learned about an approach called Somatic Experiencing that helps the body heal unresolved trauma by resolving incomplete trauma responses. I recently found a good psychologist who practices this method. For me it is working and shifting chronic patterns of being stuck in fight-or-flight and even more so a freeze response. As I’m starting to come out of these, fibro symptoms of over 3 decades are starting to alleviate.
Does your wife identify anything in association with the onset of fibro? What helps me may be different from what helps her, but I just thought I’d explain my situation in case it helps. I did have to try a few other practitioners of the above method before I found the right fit.
I feel CBT doesn’t work for many because it is a top-down approach, whereas with implicit autonomic nervous system responses you have to start with where the body is at (bottom-up approach) and allow processing at that somatic level before you can bring cognition online.
It’s lovely you are supporting your wife. I hope you can find some good support that helps both of you.