The drugs have failed. Your willpower has crumpled. But have you tried…?

Posted Jul 30, 2019

As a twenty-year veteran of shakily humming “Amazing Grace” to myself chronic illness, I’ve worked out a few ways to be wildly uncomfortable while pretending I’m not. Allow me to share. 

1. Consider that moments of “extremes” are what make us most fully alive—ecstasy and pain are two sides of the same coin.

  • Are you literally clenched in a misery ball? Look at how much you’re seizing the day! No mediocrity for you, cowboy.

2. Braid your hair.

  • Sometimes the tactile sensation and fixation on a fine-motor project can distract you, slightly, for a few moments
  • Oh look, so pretty
  • Work off some of that pent-up angst
  • Pretty girls don’t hurt! And you are the preeeeeettiest.

Scott Fogel

Source: Scott Fogel



3. “Pain is weakness leaving the body!” yelled that gym coach who also taught Freshman History.

  • Didn’t he make us watch 2001’s “Gladiator” because, and I quote, “Russell Crowe is shredded”?
  • That was an American History course, right?
  • Just checking.


4. Not sure what to do with all the compacted frustration in your solar plexus? Consider starting a Fight Club in your neighborhood.

  • Fact: “College-Educated Women 25-40” are an under-served demographic
  • Creating new injuries diffuses the pain from the old ones
  • Adrenaline is a natural anesthetic

5. What movie was that where the guy trained for something by punching a hanging side of beef in a refrigerator? Was that Rocky?

  • Does anyone know where to find a fridge with hanging sides of beef?
  • Or pork? Pork might work. Definitely not chickens, though. Way too small.
  • Asking for a friend

Scott Fogel

Source: Scott Fogel

6. Starting a small, controlled fire can be a helpful way to make your inner state external, allowing you to relate to your pain in a different way while also doing some damage to your own property

  • In a time when you control nothing, fire is comforting in its predictability
  • Oh, crap, no–oh god! Crap. 
  • We are all made of ash and to ash we will return


7. Rend your garments

  • Wear garments worth rending.

8. Stuff a spare sock with rice, tie off the end, then put the whole thing into the microwave for a quick and cheap heating pad.

  • That should do…something.

9. Make a swear jar! Every time you curse in a frustrated whimper, put $1 in the jar.

  • After awhile, take your jar to a bakery and buy something gooey
    • A mouthful of pastry muffles the sounds of your anguish!
  • Careful, though: choking hazard, especially if you’re crying
    • (yes, obviously, death seems like a welcome release, but if you die from frosting-related suffocation, think of what your obituary will say)

10. Close your eyes. Breathe. Hold one hand over your heart, and one over the source of your pain.

With every inhale, imagine fresh, clean energy pouring over each of your internal organs.

With every exhale, envision black smoke, heat, and disarray leaving your body.

Resist the urge to whimper, squirm, or cry.

Alright, you gave that a shot. Now you have permission to hit dishes with a hammer.


Scott Fogel

Source: Scott Fogel

Caitlin Caven writes Better Living Through Snark about the involuntary fiesta of chronic illness. You can follow us on Instagram.

Thanks to Scott Fogel for the illustrations, though, really, why didn’t he just try fish oil, Motrin, and Lamaze?

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