What is pain? I know that it is a feeling, and I know that it is dependent on a stimulus such as getting hit by a car or finding out that your loved one died. When you think of pain you are probably thinking of physical pain, not emotional.
But really what is it?
Physical pain is easy to see. You have a bruised knee after falling. Your body reacts to chemotherapy resulting in hair loss or other symptoms.
Physical pain is also not so easy to see. Headaches or Fibromyalgia, for instance. You can't see this pain but it still hurts.
Emotional pain can be seen. You are crying and flush from failing a test. Emotional pain is easier to hide. Staring blankly at walls, or shoving all your emotions so deep that you appear to be in no pain at all.
Okay, what about how it feels?
Physical pain can be burning, stinging, dull and achy or sharp and stabbing.
The emotional pain feels like the inability to move because your brain says "what's the point" or "it's not safe". It is the burning behind your eyes trying to bury the tears. It is the dull achy pain of not being able to close your eyes at night or the sharp stabbing pain of a panic attack inside a grocery store that hits you like a heart attack.
How do we even measure "hurt"?
When you go to the doctor from a torn muscle, they will assess the damage and give it a degree. If you go to the emergency room they will have you rate the pain on a 1-10 scale for everything that hurts. They will come up with a plan to heal your pain, whether it's physical therapy or something else as an intervention.
When you are in emotional pain, you don't get to go to the emergency room because you are feeling emotional pain. They will ask you if you are harming or thinking about harming yourself. They look to place physical symptoms to an emotional problem in order for it to be serious. Emotional pain cannot be measured unless it has physical amplitude.
How do other people validate your pain?
After a car accident, people look at the damages and the first thing they ask you is "are you hurt?" The adrenaline in your body is in overdrive and you are going to be okay. The airbag was there. If you were physically injured, an ambulance will come and take you to the hospital to be evaluated.
After a car accident, people look at the damages and tell you that you are lucky you didn't get hurt. But you can't explain to them the pain that comes from being disappointed or ashamed that it was your fault. You were going to fast. You did not slow down. You totaled the vehicle. You are hurt...
What about the stigma?
No one tells people with cancer to "shake it off". What about people who have major depression? Or other mental health issues? Why aren't they given the same courtesy.
Which one hurts worse?
It is up to you to decide.