Eyecatcher For adolescents

18-year-old young woman

My chronic pain began when I was 11. Today I’m almost 19... When I think back it’s a really long time that I have put behind me and an equally long time in my life that left its mark on me. My pain began in both knees. At first my parents and I assumed it had to do with growth, but it simply didn’t get better, so we went to the doctor to finally clear up the matter. Instead of the hoped for clarification and getting rid of the pain, though, we were sent on a marathon, we ran from one doctor to the next. They couldn’t see the pain I felt in my knees at all. I wanted to give up, no doctor could help me, and nothing we tried to relieve my pain was effective. Some doctors even felt that I should move as little as possible, so I was excused from physical education at school for several years and I also hardly moved in my free time. This brought not only further physical problems along with it but also emotional ones. However, the pain and the countless things I tried in vain are not the only thing that made me suffer. Much worse were the reactions of the people around me. I often had the feeling that not one doctor, not one teacher, not one classmate believed I was in pain. At some point I even began to doubt that my friends and my family believed me at all.

I stayed home from school very often so that no understanding could be summoned for me as my school performance kept worsening, since I was seen by teachers and classmates as someone who skipped school, and I also wasn’t spared hateful comments. After a while I didn’t want to go to school at all anymore, I was afraid of the lessons, simply afraid of going there, and the missed school days couldn’t be made up anymore. At some point the doctors started to react similarly, as if I simply didn’t feel like going to school and had created my pain for that purpose. It also came to the point that my pain gained the upper hand and I gave up my hobbies and didn’t meet with friends anymore. I thought the pain was holding me back from that and to be honest I just wanted to be alone, for things weren’t  so rosy for me in my family anymore, since my four siblings suffered a lot with the situation, since I was apparently the one who received the most attention from our parents. The only solution for me: withdrawal, batten down the hatches, just me and my beloved room, totally alone. I already felt alone with the whole situation, so why not withdraw completely and really be alone?

Because I am not alone!

In 2008 for the first time I heard about the Children’s and Adolescents’ Clinic in Datteln, where they focus on treating pain. To be honest, I was a little afraid of my first appointment there, since I thought from my whole previous experience that I would be turned away again and no one would believe me. But, contrary to all my expectations, it went differently: I was treated very warmly and with understanding and soon after this consultation I was admitted to the inpatient ward in Datteln to begin my pain therapy.

One thing I can say about my time in Datteln and my fight against pain is: it wasn’t easy but it was certainly worth it.  I met new people who shared my experiences, I learned how to deal with difficult situations better and how to get my pain under control, if I want to. The time after my stay in Datteln shouldn’t be portrayed as too easy since after all I was now confronted with the old, hard reality and had to show what I had learned on my own. Definitely a difficult thing which still required a lot of work, but I knew where I could find help if everything went badly. In the end I had to prove to myself that I could master the whole thing. I have done it.

My pain is still there, to be sure, but only slightly and weak and only very, very seldom does it get bad again. I am often so busy that I forget all about it, which means nothing other than that it isn’t there for the moment. How did I manage it? Every day I practice the exercises that I learned in Datteln, it doesn’t take long nor is it hard. I listen to music and relax while doing this. This is incredibly important for me. I try to get through the rest of the day with a lot of discipline and so I often write agendas that sketch my day from beginning to end. Furthermore, I have taken up my old hobbies again, meet with friends regularly and do things that are simply fun, so my pain hardly has a chance to appear.

The support of my parents, the knowledge of where I can always ask for advice (Datteln), the knowledge that I’m not alone with my pain and the insight that you can manage everything if you believe in yourself -  all have helped me very much.

Meanwhile I have achieved other things; for instance, I’ve just written my Abitur and was partly very successful in it so I’m now waiting to be able to go on to further education.

I have no doubt that you also can manage it. Believe in yourself, give yourself a chance and your pain none!

Warm regards, Sophia