Mental illnesses can be debilitating. They can affect our ability to work and function. I'm not talking about physical pain. The psychological and emotional pain is what causes the most suffering.
As my therapist, Jane, says:
"Acute physical pain, such as injury, is time limited by its nature. You KNOW it will end. Emotional pain, no matter how many times you've had your heart broken, seems to last forever. You've gotten over it before but, this time you don't KNOW when it will end. Or get easier. Or if it will ever end. Pain is always seen through the lens of your own perception. It is as big and bad as you BELIEVE it is."
The sadness, hopelessness, self-hate, self stigma, and many other symptoms can make you feel horrible.
Psychology Today presented their five reasons why emotional is worse than physical pain:
1. Memories Trigger Emotional Pain
There are many ways to trigger emotional pain. Remembering the person or events that caused it can bring it right back to the surface. Remembering that time you broke your leg won't make your leg hurt again.
2. Physical Pain Can Distract Us From Emotional Pain
This correlation only works one way. Many people practice self-harm (cutting, skin-picking, etc.) to distract themselves from their emotional pain. Some people would rather have physical pain than emotional pain.
3. Physical Pain Evokes More Empathy
I've written this before. Mental illness is not one of those "casserole" illnesses. People just don't come out and bring food or flowers when you are in the hospital for a mental illness. Many people can't empathize with emotional pain.
4. Emotional Pain 'Echoes'
If you got your heart broken at your favorite restaurant, you may not want to got there again for a long time. If you sprained your ankle on the softball field, you won't care as much about going there. This can be different if the physical injury was emotionally traumatic.
5. Emotional Pain Can Damage Our Long-Term Mental Health
Physical pain has to be pretty extreme for it to affect your mental health. A painful rejection can lead to avoidance.