Can Chronic Pain Turn You Into a Bitch?

My father had a terrible temper. He was known for it all around town. But he was also known as a fun loving guy, fun to be around, would do anything for a friend. But there was that temper.

I inherited his great sense of humor. I love to laugh. But I also inherited his temper. So did my sister. I’ve always been a hot head. Short fuse. Easily irritated. But at the same time, in my own defense, I’ve usually been a person who can get over things quickly. Not one to hold a grudge for very long. Once it’s over, it’s over. No big deal.

Now that I’m 58 years old, and have carried chronic pain around in this body for 31 of those 58 years, I begin to look back over my life and I wonder…..has chronic pain made me a bitch? Have all these years of feeling like total shit created in me a monster?

Okay, maybe not a monster, but a person with an even shorter fuse? A person with bitterness and anger? Someone who finds fault in others? Someone who points out other people’s weaknesses? Someone who is still mad because she got the smaller piece of pie?

I often look at the past years of my life and wonder what I would have been like, had fibromyalgia and other health issues not come and barged in on my life. I wonder, would I have been more patient? Would I have been less judgmental, less harsh, more compassionate? Or would I still have been still lashing out at the world, trying to cover and protect my still-raw wounds from even more damage by continually constructing the “wall” inside myself?

Although I try not to, I consider myself a victim. Even though I tend to look down on weakness in other people, expecting them all to buck up and be strong like me….I still see myself as a victim in this world. If I were to be honest, I would realize, many of us are victims of this world….damaged somehow, by something. Struggling against the tide. Trying to heal from unseen wounds that keep getting opened by the difficulties of life.

I was in my middle 20’s when I first began having health issues. It went from Graves hyperthyroidism, to endometriosis, to fibromyalgia. Then later came diabetes, eye problems, intense tendinitis in my feet, osteoarthritis, and many other issues. Latest one is Sjogrens disease.

I look back over the years and wonder…..what would my psyche have been like if I hadn’t been hit with so many health problems, one after another after another? Would I have had anger issues like I do now? Would my temperament be more gentle? Would I still have my faith in God intact?

In this day and age of internet social networking, you can meet new friends in a matter of minutes. Develop friendships over the course of weeks, months, years. But at the same time, if someone says or does something you don’t like, you can simply press the delete button and that person disappears from your life as if they’d never existed. Sometimes the finality of a relationship is all in the press of a key on your keyboard. Poof. Never to return.

I am my own harshest judge. I see the flaws in me and I hate them. I hate myself for some of the things that I do. In my defense, I am tired of being in pain, tired of being tired and tired of seeing my body get even worse as I age. But that is no excuse to lash out. No excuse to treat others with harshness or disdain. I wish I knew how to reign it all in and not allow my own pain make me a person who brings pain to others.

I really do feel that the past 31 years has turned me into a bitch. I try hard not to be one, but I feel that most of the time, I fail miserably. Not only the pain itself, but all that came with the pain has affected me …..the dealing with doctors, some of which were unbelievably cruel, patronizing, mean. The medications, which all have side effects that have made me feel lousy. The stigma of having chronic pain, when so many don’t understand it. Don’t get it. Can’t figure out why I can walk through the mall one day, but be in bed all day the next. And on, and on.

Would I have been a bitch if chronic illness not invaded my life? Not sure. But yeah, I believe it has made me a bitch after 31 years. Unfortunately, yes….I do. And I don’t know how not to be one. I try hard every day but I always end up hating myself when I get in bed at night.

There is so much more to chronic illness than physical pain.


About teeks55

I'm a sleep deprived antique dealer with fibromyalgia, RA, diabetes & more. Love hubby, cats, books & humor! Avid tea drinker. Poker player. Pain fighter.
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23 Responses to Can Chronic Pain Turn You Into a Bitch?

  1. Kate Loveton says:

    This is a very insightful post, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I have a friend who suffers chronic pain, and she admits that the constant presence of it sometimes overwhelms her and gives her a short fuse.

    • teeks55 says:

      Thanks Kate, for the comment. I try not to be so hard on myself, I try to imagine if I was someone else, and how I would feel compassion for what that “person” has been through over the course of literally a lifetime of daily pain. I sometimes try to remind myself that anyone….anyone….who had to live with constant pain would be changed by it. Their personalities would almost have to go through changes because of it. I try to have compassion on myself, but mostly I have a short fuse with myself more than anyone else…..and that’s unfortunate. I appreciate your willingness to consider what your friend is enduring and why she might be touchy or angry or moody. I applaud you for caring enough about her to understand why she may be struggling with these issues. If she does have chronic pain, I can certainly understand. Thanks for your comment, and for taking the time to read.

  2. Trisha says:

    Overall, I feel like my illness has taught me to be more patient, more compassionate, especially with myself. But when the pain gets really bad, the bitch comes out. Severe pain is such a hard thing to live with. Don’t beat yourself up over not always handling without anger or bitchiness. I doubt there’s anyone who could say they haven’t gotten bitchy as a result of pain.

    • teeks55 says:

      Thanks Trisha…. it really is hard. Sometimes I get so mad and so bitchy and forget for a minute that my pain level has been through the roof for weeks. Anyone would go a little crazy, I think, if they were subjected to raw pain for a very long time. I appreciate your comment, thanks so much for reading and taking the time to respond.

    • teeks55 says:

      Also, it’s true that when I meet someone else who has suffered a great deal, I can definitely relate and I guess that makes me more compassionate on their behalf. Something I probably would not have as much of if I had not suffered myself.

  3. It’s pretty hard to keep your cool when you’re in pain, even harder when the pain is excructiating and lasts for days on end. I think unleashing the “bitch” is inevitable in those circumstances. Not to worry, I think most of us find ourselves in this position at times 😉

  4. suzjones says:

    I believe illness of any kind creates a persona that is not the norm for a person. When a person is ill, they become hyper-sensitive to all sorts of things. So yes, there is every reason to believe that pain has made you more sensitive (but I won’t say bitch because let’s face it – all women have that tendency lol).

  5. joynpain2 says:

    It’s a hard question. But I believe that things happen for a reason. The way you are now, bitch or not, is how you’re supposed to be. However, if you don’t like the way you are, at least by realizing it, you can more easily change it. I personally think you’re great just the way you are. Oh, btw, how did your visit go?

    • teeks55 says:

      Hi Joy, and thank you for the response. My visit with the new NP went really well. She was extremely personable…very nice. I got my meds, no problem. I had to sign a pain med contract, I think they are all starting to do that more now….they are all so freaked out about addiction. They obviously don’t understand that most chronic pain people do not get addicted per se….but oh well, whatever….I will sign my name if it means I can get what I need to be able to function….which is all I want to do. Anyway, she was very nice and I am relieved. Thanks for asking!! Hope you are doing okay. xoxo

      • joynpain2 says:

        I’m doing good, thank you. I had a pain contract with my doctor before I started going to the pain clinic. There, they just drug test me lol. Anyway, I don’t know how yours was worded (but it might be a good thing to call and check on) but with mine I could still get pain if I had any dental problems or surgery. I just had to call and let one of the nurses know before taking it. Also, they would get a list of any narcotics from my pharmacy before any appointment and compare notes to make sure I called it in. Once I got in trouble for not calling in a cough syrup, but at the time I couldn’t even breathe from the severity of the coughs, much less remember to call. They just simply reminded me that I should have called them and that was it. They’re really not bad, plus with people like us, we don’t usually go looking for more as long as that edge is taken off the pain,,so it’s not that big a deal. I am so glad that she was understanding to your needs.

      • Shirley’s Say 20th March, 2014 at 10:30pm

        As a chronic pain sufferer since 1988 I have learnt a lot about myself. I absolutely hate pain and supress it by doing as much as I can turn my hand to..sewing, knitting, quilting, cross stitch etc and at the moment sanding back a hutch. Probably not the best thing I can do for myself but I am standing in one place and it is doing wonders for my stomach muscles! lol! At least I will see an end result for my pain. It is hardest at night when the pain and spasms wake me up screaming!
        Does my doctor understand what I go through? Absolutely not and doesn’t want to know because he cannot get a result for the treatment that he gives me, -pills! I function each day because I choose to. My belief in God has a huge bearing on my battling on. I was totally wheelchair bound for 3 years and went to a faith healer and very slowly my legs started to work! This was unacceptable to my doctor so his answer was that I had a wrong diagnosis! After two spinal operations to remove spinal canal stenosis! Leaves me wondering! I can totally understand suicidal tendencies. How much can a person bear after so many years! I take each day/night as it comes and have the attitude that I have to get through this day to get to the next and it may be better….one lives in hope! May God bless each person who has chronic pain of whatever cause. We need the blessing to exist in a tortured body!

  6. tlohuis says:

    Julie, you are NOT a bitch. Can living with all these chronic illnesses and pain cause us to get “bitchy” sometimes, yes. It’s very difficult living life this way and it’s even more difficult for others to understand our pain. Most days we don’t look sick and that makes it even more difficult for anyone to understand. I know plenty of people that have no illnesses and they, too, get “bitchy.” No one’s perfect. One thing I’ve gotten much better at, since I’ve been so damn sick for so damn long now, is saying I’m sorry. We’re already frustrated and mad as hell that we’ve been dealt the hand we’ve been dealt and have to live with every single day of our lives, that it just doesn’t take much to set us off. My family has learned to accept me the way I am. When I go on a rampage, they’ve learned to just let me be, to let me have my fit, kick the wall, or whatever other lovely ways I deal with my pain. I do what I need to do and they walk away or keep their mouths shut. This makes it much easier on all of us. That also helps me to get over it much quicker because I don’t have to have it out with anyone along the way. I would love to find one person that lives life in pain, the way we do, that doesn’t ever get “bitchy.” I feel it’s one of our rights as a chronically ill person that also suffers with chronic pain. And, when others keep quiet when we get into this “bitchy mode” it prevents things from escalating. So, on that note, if you feel the need to be “bitchy,” you go girl. It’s ok and it doesn’t make you a bitch!
    Peace, love, and hugs,
    Wild Thang:)

    • teeks55 says:

      Hi my friend, and thank you for the comment. You are absolutely right in the way you have helped your loved ones learn how to “deal” with your outbursts….this is EXACTLY what I have told my husband to do…..just back off, walk away, don’t try to talk to me….just back off and don’t fuel the fire…..and things will settle down much quicker. I appreciate you confirming this because it’s the best way for all of us. I do find myself “going off” at the drop of a hat sometimes, and 99% of the time it’s when my pain has been horrendous or if I’ve had a day with lots of activity and I’m tired. Most of the time when I have had a lot to do, I am stressed because of the added stress on my body and my mind. When you throw pain into the mix, you are right, anyone would become volatile. I appreciate you saying that I’m not a bitch…I can’t say that I agree but I don’t mean to be one. You know how hard it is….I know you do. Anyway….we try our best and sometimes we fail but we do try, don’t we?? I’ve missed you too….I just haven’t been on WordPress much because I just haven’t felt like writing anything…..just going through a dry spell I guess. I was glad to see your comments….hope you are behaving yourself, you Wild Thang. Love U. xoxo P.S. And thanks for telling me I’m not a bitch. 🙂

      • tlohuis says:

        I only said it because it’s the truth. I haven’t been on WP as much lately either because I’ve just been so damn sick, as always. I don’t know if I’ll ever get caught up on all these notifications. Not gonna stress about it because they will still be there when I get to them, right? You take your dry spell and then you better get back in touch with Wild Thang because I really, really do miss you. I miss our chats, our venting sessions, our 2 wonderful, humorous minds getting together is pretty funny you must admit. I just miss you, already, damn it. So, please hurry up with your dry spell before I go into another one. You know Wild Thang doesn’t behave if she can help it, but she’s been so damn sick lately, she hasn’t really had it in her to get out of line. Haven’t even been able to get up and kick another hole in the damn wall, can you believe that? You know I gotta be sick. We don’t have to behave, that’s another one of our rights, just sayin………………… I love you, girl and you are NOT a bitch, got it? I hope you get to feeling “better” soon. I’m going to start taking Sundays off from doing anything, but resting. Considering I don’t do much other than rest, it’s going to be super duper easy, but I’m not going to even open my laptop. Just an idea from another friend and thought I would give it a try. So, we’ll see how long Wild Thang can do it. I’ll be back on Monday, though, don’t you worry.:)

  7. savannah120627 says:

    I actually found this post by googling the words, has pain made me a bitch…. It has. I really appreciated your honesty here. I, too, wonder what I might have been if… I understand the only part of my pain I can control is, how I deal with it…. Right now..? Pretty poorly… I hope to come back to me… I dream of it…. Actually I do dream of being happy and pain free… Sleep is such solace… I am losing faith to dream it while awake. Thank you. You have given me a lot to dream of. Good luck feeling lighter, happier, and more tolerant… Those are three words I cherish for myself…. Gayla in Missouri.

    • teeks55 says:

      Hi Gayla…thank you so much for taking the time to write. I am glad you found my post and that it resonated with your own experience. Pain can definitely change us, it has even been proven that pain can actually change the neurotransmitter pathways in the brain if the pain has been severe enough and been around for a long period of time.

      I feel like sometimes, I am being pushed way beyond my capacity to endure…and when it gets that bad, a person is bound to erupt in some way. I get angry and withdraw into myself. I get angry at the pain, at the way it’s changed me, I get angry at the people I am closest to, and the people that walk around, carefree, without a thought as to how lucky they are not to be hurting every moment of every day. It’s hard not to resent those people for all that they have, and how they take it so for granted.

      Anyway, thank you for writing and I look forward to more exchanges regarding our pain issues in the future! Take care.

    • savannah, I googled something very similar that led me here! I like what you say about the only part of your pain you can control being how you deal with it. Some days I’m a hero, others I rate a zero… but yes, I would say pain has made me more tolerant and compassionate towards others; I have no idea what they may be going through. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” -Philo

      • teeks55 says:

        Thank you so much for your input, Meredith. Good luck and may we both keep these things in mind as we walk through life. I need to keep my husband’s needs and his feelings in my mind as well as my own. He has to live with me and that can sometimes be very difficult. I don’t want to alienate him or cause him grief or emotional pain. He’s a good guy, he has a heart of gold. He’s been so good to me. I’m glad you wrote this comment because it brought to mind all the things I need to remember as I walk my journey. He is the most important person in my life and I need to try to be more of a positive force in our marriage rather than “the one who suffers”. If the roles were reversed I would be miserable. And that is a sobering thought.

  8. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that seeing ourselves as victims leads to the negative attitude. I have only become acquainted with chronic pain in the last few years, but my husband remarked that I have changed. I don’t want pain to be the controlling factor in my life. I need to stay positive and realize I do not have to be a victim.

    • teeks55 says:

      Me too, Meredith. I agree. But trying to do that on a day to day basis is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. You have to be mindful every single minute, and when you are tired from only getting three hours of sleep a night and in severe pain, it’s so difficult to actually do. I pray that we both have the internal fortitude to be able to handle our pain without losing ourselves in the process. Good luck!! And thanks for the comment!

  9. teeks55 says:

    Reblogged this on The Nocturnal Laundress and commented:

    I originally posted this on January 23, 2014. It got some responses so I thought I’d re-blog.

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