1) We may be unreliable. Sometimes when you feel good, you make plans you have every intention to keep, but when the pain hits, you might not even be able to show up. When we make a statement of intention, replace our 'promises' with 'wishes' because we really do want them to be true.
Ex. I promise to make it to your party. = I wish to make it to your party.
2) Actions or situations may result in pain hours or days later. Delayed pain is confusing to people who have never experienced it. Some of us can act perfectly normal for an entire day (leaving you wondering why we claim to be sick). What you don't see is the next two or three days, which we might spend in agony or even bedridden.
3) Pain can inhibit listening skills. The effect of pain on the mind can seem like attention deficit disorder. You may have to repeat yourself multiple times, or write important things down.
4) The senses can overload while in pain. Noises become too loud; lights become too bright.
5) We seem impatient. It's painful for us to wait in a long line and it's hard to pay attention in a long, drawn-out conversation. Keep it simple and short.
6) Don't ask "how are you" unless you are prepared to listen.
7) Pain can trigger bouts of depression or anxiety. A normal task may suddenly seem monumental and hopeless. Allow us some personal space to work these episodes out; if you lend a hand do so quietly and maintain a little distance. These are usually quite temporary and very normal for chronic pain sufferers. Wait to see if it persists before seeing if further assistance is needed.
8) Pain can come on quickly and unexpectedly. Pain sometimes abates after a short rest. Chronic pain people appear to arrive and fade unpredictably to others.
9) Much like a bathroom, it is important to have a refuge available. A person with chronic pain may not want to go anywhere that has no refuge such as a couch, bed, or comfortable chair to sit in if needed.
10) Small acts of kindness can seem like huge acts of mercy to a person in pain.
11) Not all pain is easy to locate or describe. This can be frustrating when trying to communicate.
12) Medical science is still limited in its understanding of pain. Many people have pain that is not yet classified by doctors as an officially recognized “disease”. That does not reduce the pain – it only reduces our ability to give it a label, and to have you believe us.