Disclaimer: I am no pain expert, all that I am summarizing below is out of my own experience of handling pain for over 12 years now. Let’s say since I have learn to do it the “shoulder’s straight and chin up” way, I always strive to help people to find the same road to self acceptance and smiles.

There’s no running away from pain I believe. My survivor story stands a witness to that. After 12 years of no medication, of being tagged of having it all in my head, of refusing any more pain killers because I was scared that if my disease didn’t kill me my failed liver would, when I discovered fibromyalgia, the shock was not much, but the realization humongous.

How did I deal with it? I learnt to tackle different things, I set out on a journey to know my own physiology and yes stick by my mantra of self belief and least medication. I have a 10 pointer theory when it comes to pain, I hope a few of the pointers help you.

1. Finding a doctor
Never believe in a doctor who doesn’t believe in you ~ this is a mantra I stick by. Hear me out man/ lady, do yourself a favour, find a doctor who respects your pain, as much as you respect his profession. Find a doctor who has a knack of research and is willing to explore uncharted waters for you – mind you this is different from a doctor who wants to use you as his guinea pig.

2. Knowing your own body
I am sure we all take pride in one unique trait that makes us different from others, yet then why do we forget to be humble towards the tendencies that makes us different from others? How many of us strive to know our body? How many of us strive to know what alcohol base suits us and what doesn’t? The same lessons we teach our kids, we forget it ourselves when it comes to knowing our own body.

3. Appreciating your own limit
Remember it is not a war that you are engaging in with pain here. There’s nothing macho or uber courageous about doing things which will make people go “wow” on your face and “how stupid” behind your back! Also learn to joke about the limits, a lighter heart always makes a good warrior.

4. Drawing up a priority list in life
I am glad that I learnt the importance of priority list, from my mother. It did me oodles of good! Nothing bothers me till spoken by those on my priority list – they keep me grounded, they keep me sane, they make me feel like a human. It also makes you realise that living with a person with pain is just as difficult as for the person who is suffering – makes you appreciate relationships and stick by them.

5. Appreciating little milestones, that you achieve
I hold a small note pad close where I note down a goal I need to achieve to move ahead in life and the goal is often as minuscule as writing a chapter for my manuscript, but whatever be it, when I achieve it I pat myself on the back and treat myself to a Mac Donald strawberry sundae (my favourite treat ever!)

6. Making a wish list, that is all about yourself
Who said we have to conquer all peaks in this life that is too short? I never thought I could put on my running shoes again when fibro and TMJ hit me, I never thought I could remember my dance steps when fibro fog was discovered. Know what? I am running Mumbai Marathon 2013 and once I do that I have put it down in my wish list to resume Salsa Professional Level 3, who says dreams can’t come true?

7. Believing in the world beyond medicines
I have a condition where I do not even know what condition I shall wake up next morning leave aside knowing what pain killers will work for me. I have discovered a fascinating world beyond medicines through music therapy, yoga and color therapy. It does work but, all it requires is a little bit of faith and a good healer. I am lucky to have both with me.

8. Acceptance and the confidence it brings
I was born with this and I shall die with this, when the universe that created me did not judge me, why should people? I live with mantra. Acceptance of a condition doesn’t make us weak. In fact I have realised that it does just the opposite, it helps us gather oodles of confidence and face the world. Gives you a “Big deal, I have got it. Looks like you have got to learn to live with it and not me!” attitude that helps you protect your own fear and insecurities and be respected for who you are and what you stand for.

9. Love, for yourself and the life you have got
My mother told this to me when I was 16 – “Remember if you don’t love yourself, no one else will” I stick to it. There’s no greater comfort in loving the skin you are in. Have you ever wondered why are you in awe of all those bohemian styles which someone carries off with grace, you crave yet know you can’t – simple they are comfortable, they are confident and they love the reflection in the mirror.

10. Talk about it and help others
We are lucky to be born in an era of resources and yet we choose to ignore the blessing. Truth being told, we all hide skeletons in the cupboard yet when we start talking about our own fears and diseases and meet others, we realise how small a heap of problems we have compared to others. There’s so much to read, to know and to talk about. The onus of taking the first step forward however lies on us.

Sagarika is a corporate lawyer-cum-policy researcher, turned MBA in strategy and marketing, an author, a nation builder, a thinker but most of all a true self lover, a pampered daughter and sister and a humanist who believes in cuddling babies and loving dogs to make the world a better place. All about her and more here!

She holds a special space for all those sufferers who suffer from chronic pain and through her self help group The Purple Pact she is trying to set up India’s first registered chronic pain support group.