Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. It could be a lingering injury, a genetic flaw, disease, infection, or cancer. Many believe that pain can be a somatic experience, the residue of long buried trauma. What I can say is that pain is an extremely hard thing to describe, as every person comes from a distinct perspective, where one person’s reaction to a hangnail is akin to another’s neuropathic pain syndrome. Some people have a higher threshold for pain than others, and can therefore cope with it easier. There’s burning pain, dull pain, aching pain, tender pain, neural pain, it goes on and on.
My name’s Neal Kearney, I’m thirty-two years young, and have been living with severe chronic pain since high school. My story is that of a downward spiral, from a fit, competitive surfer, to a depressed, anxiety and pain ridden and self-consumed wreck. That is a hard sentence to share to the world, especially for a grown man such as myself. Historically, men have been valued as the strong, stoic members of society who can shrug off practically anything. This is, of course, bullshit. To express yourself and your story from a point of weakness, one must accept and acknowledge the problem with a willingness to explore feelings or emotions that you may have bottled up for years.
How to Heal with Neal is a way to share my own personal experience, to use my gift of writing to inspire others to find treatment and therapy for their chronic pain– using my fifteen years of highs and lows to inform those who are seeking support. I will detail my journey, where I’ve come from, and where I’m headed, with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, I could help even one person who deals with chronic pain.
Again, this is my experience, and I’m no expert. Being struck down with disease or injury at a young age is scary, confusing, frustrating, and exhausting. I’m devoid of hope; waking up every morning feeling like I got hit by a truck. In this modern world, especially in the United States, one’s value is inextricably tied to their ability to complete tasks that generate profit. These expectations of being independent and dependable weigh heavily on my conscious, day in and day out.
To most, I look like a healthy young man on the outside. Inside my head however, there’s a constant specter of misery trolling my neural pathways. Concentration is a tall order, with the myriad of pain signals scrambling my circuitry. I’m in relentless, exhausting pain throughout most of my body. Relationships, career aspirations, my sense of self-worth, my romance with riding waves…all have become compromised. Even one’s sanity can be compromised by a life filled with pain.
As I said, this blog is an outlet for myself, a way to help others, and a reminder that no matter what is happening to you, in whatever stage of your life, you can’t give up! Other than checking myself into a looney bin or blowing my brains out, there can be no waving my problems away with a wizard’s wand. This is my reality and I have only one shot to live with dignity and grace despite a million reasons to check out. I hope you can find solace, affirmation, support, and information and therapies I’ve found effective in my efforts to tread water with what seems to be concrete boots.
I offer you this outlet no matter what your relation to pain may be, for, as all can attest to, there are painful struggles and battles that everyone must overcome in their lives. I hope that everything I share can be useful to those in need.
~You ALL Mean so Much to Me~
To share your story, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org